We've all heard it before - it's important to recycle whenever possible. You care about this big blue planet we call home so you carefully and dutifully sort your papers and plastics, your glass and your metals. You faithfully lug that recycling bin out to the curb each week (for those that have curbside recycling) and you pat yourself on the back that you've just done your part for a cleaner, healthier environment. And make no mistake, you HAVE! But remember the three R's are REDUCING, Reusing, and only then Recycling. Reducing comes first, and that means you bring less into your home to start with - I call it PREcycling. Let's take a look at a few examples.
Your new recipe calls for a bell pepper so you're doing your grocery shopping for ingredients. And then you see it... a 2-pack of the most beautiful peppers you've ever seen in your life - One red and one yellow, perfectly matched in size & screaming vibrant colors. Oh man how the sight of it entices you... But what's THIS?? You notice that those beautiful peppers are sitting on a styrofoam plate and entombed in several layers of plastic.
Time for a reality check - step back & think for a moment. Do you really need two peppers anyway? That bin of bulk bell peppers is right next to this bright 2-pack display - make the choice to pick up that single bell pepper being sold without any wrapping at all and you can really pat yourself on the back for your environmental savvy! You can usually find whatever produce you desire sold in bulk bins, from peppers to beans, apples to pears. Chose to shop from those bulk bins and leave that excessive packaging behind. See how easy that was?
Or how about this? Many years ago I was doing all I could to recycle yet I was dismayed to discover that my favorite yogurt was sold in the type of plastic that was not accepted by my city's recycling program. Oh man how it tugged at my heart to be so diligent with my recycling efforts yet be forced to simply throw those yogurt tubs into the trash each week. But what's a girl to do? I love to enjoy my daily yogurt at breakfast. Then I got to wondering if I couldn't make my own Homemade Yogurt in those same convenient single-serve sizes by making it in 1/2-pint glass canning jars. As it turns out, YES! (and it's easier than you think) Now I'm still enjoying healthy yogurt for breakfast but those glass jars holding my yogurt are washed and reused again & again. There you go - Precycling!
So next time you're in the grocery store considering a purchase, think about PREcycling. Do you really need a plastic (or paper) bag to hold that tiny purchase or can you just as easily carry it out yourself? Can you chose the bulk bins for your produce instead of all the shrink-wrapped perfection you're seeing lining the shelves? Would it be just as easy to make that item yourself instead of buying it premade with all the associated bold-advertising packaging? Choose PREcycling first, it's easy and you can be confident that you've just made our world just a little bit cleaner.
Tammy Taylor is owner of the Taylor-Made Homestead blog. Tammy lives and works on a Northeast Texas ranch and writes about home cooking, gardening, food preservation, MIY, DIY and living as gently as possible on this big blue planet we call home. You can visit her blog here or follow her on Facebook here.
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