The basics of reducing and reusing products


As more and more people, businesses and governments have embraced eco-friendly lifestyles and practices, it’s never been easier for men and women to make a positive impact on the planet.

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to make such an impact is to look for ways to reduce waste, which often involves reusing materials and products that otherwise might be discarded. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, producing new items requires substantial amounts of materials and energy. Such products may require the extraction of raw materials from the earth before they can be fabricated and transported to places where they will ultimately be sold. By resolving to reuse products, consumers can greatly reduce the impact their purchases have on the planet.

Why reduce and reuse?

A reduce and reuse lifestyle preserves natural resources and reduces waste, but there are additional benefits to such a lifestyle as well.

• Reduces pollution: Harvesting new raw materials oftentimes contributes to pollution of our airways and waterways. By reusing items, consumers can decrease demand for new products, thereby reducing the pollution created when harvesting the resources necessary to produce those items.

• Emissions: Once harvested, raw materials are then turned into products. The process of transforming these materials into products can produce greenhouse gas emissions. According to, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat and warm the globe, producing a host of potentially harmful consequences for the planet and its inhabitants.

• Finances: Reducing and reusing has financial perks, namely the low prices of recycled items compared to brand new items. In addition, reusing everyday items, such as coffee mugs, instead of buying new items each day can add up to sizable savings over time. Repurposing clothing, such as using once fashionable T-shirts as workout gear, also can be a great way to save money.

How to reduce and reuse

Just like there are myriad benefits to reducing and reusing, there are many different ways for consumers to reduce waste and reuse items.

• Shop for previously used items. Whether consumers are shopping for items for their homes or for new wardrobes, their options abound in regard to previously used items. Homeowners can work with contractors who have experience in working with reclaimed materials, while also visiting antique shops or used furniture stores when furnishing their homes. When clothes shopping, consumers can visit consignment shops that sell like-new items at reduced prices.

• Pay attention to packaging. One of the biggest contributors to unnecessary consumer waste is packaging. Packaging is often made of raw materials, and heavily packaged items therefore require the use of more raw materials than items with less packaging. Packaging typically finds its way into landfills, so consumers looking to reduce can favor items with less packaging when making their purchases and/or look for items packaged with reused or recycled materials.

• Maintain existing products. Reusing items does not always require repurposing them. By taking care of their existing products and possessions, consumers can get more mileage out of them, reusing them for far longer than they could if the products were not better maintained.

Reducing waste and reusing items go hand in hand. Embracing a lifestyle that emphasizes reducing and reusing can have a significant, long-lasting and positive impact on the planet.