waste management

Waste Management and The Importance of Practicing 3Rs

Waste Management
3Rs practice | Photo by Hamza Javaid

3Rs practicing is the fundamental element in the hierarchy of waste management, which stands for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This practice plays a vital role in reducing wastes, helping to minimize the negative impact on our environment. While you might not remember, this approach has been introduced several times during our primary or high school period. Do you remember the event at school last year when kids were trying to collect unwanted items and turned it to something useful?

More surprisingly, this practice sometimes does not have to come in the form of activities or movement, but rather it exists in our habits. Think about one of your friends who ride a bicycle to school every day. More or less, we practice 3Rs every day, unconsciously on different motives. However, whether or not that motive is for a good cause toward the environment or just merely a personal preference, it is still a good practice.

The 3Rs waste hierarchy and its story

waste management
The waste management hierachy | Photo from theenvironmentalblog.org

While we only hear this term within a few decades back since the United Nations introduced its sustainable development goals, it has been around for centuries. The term first appeared in the environmental movement in the 1970s. On April 22 in 1970, the first Earth Day, 20 million Americans united to share their common value for protecting our planet, which ultimately led to the creating of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the same year. Today, this 3Rs practice of waste management is one of the most effective approaches to help cut down on wastes.

The first “R” as in reducing.

Reducing is the first element in the waste hierarchy, and its concept is rather simple and logical. We reduce waste by cutting on the amount of trash we disposal every day, or we produce less. Consequently, less waste means less to reuse and recycle. This first step requires an examination of the value of the items that are being used.

The second “R” as in reusing.

Reusing is simply to find a way where you can use again that old and unwanted items for another purpose. As we are living in a consumer culture, it is very easy for us to discard things we don’t like and find another alternative. We can always find things that have less value to us but more to another. Thus, this second practice gives those items a second chance but bring benefit to us in the long run.

The third “R” as in recycling.

Last but not least, recycling is the final step of waste management, in which we recycle the item after disposing of for another purpose of use. Things that we reuse from the previous step can also be recycled. These three steps work together as a whole to cut on our daily carbon footprint on the environment.

Why do we need 3Rs?

The effect of waste on our environment is a cause and effect chain that occurs intertwiningly, leading to environmental degradation. To understand why the 3Rs practice helps, you need to know how we manage our wastes.

Have you ever wondered how we handle our disposal trashes?

In case you don’t know. They all go to the landfills. Every landfill can only hold a certain amount of trash, which means we need to burn the garbage continuously to make more room. However, the more we burn, the more carbon dioxin and methane will emit into the air, causing harm to the ecosystem. Landfills are significantly responsible for climate change because of their dangerous gases.
The 3Rs practice focuses on reducing the amount of waste produced that goes to landfills. However, it is our habits that create more and more burden on these dumping grounds every day. Practicing 3Rs is more simple than you think. In most situations, it’s about choosing between one’s self-interest and environmental wellness.

Featured Image by Марьян Блан | @marjanblan



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