by: Leslie Jones


Historically, the phrase “The 3 Rs” meant Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.  The basis on which all other schoolwork, and life for that matter, was going to be based.

In more recent years the 3 Rs became the 4 Rs as awareness and emphasis on recycling, preservation, and conservation grew. Not to say, however that the original basis doesn’t still hold some validity.  Reading, writing, and math are still stressed in school systems, as well they should be.
As the 4Rs make their debut in the everyday language of Americans, “they are commonly summarized as... reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery.*

The WasteNot Society, however, chooses to look at the 4 Rs from a little different perspective. It believes that the 4Rs stand for Rethink, Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce.  The WasteNot Society is an educational organization with programs that teach the public about current waste handling and reduction practices.  Environmentally acceptable alternatives and suggestions on improving consumer practices are also offered.  All summed up, the philosophy of this organization is to proactively educate the public and encourage active thought about the impact of decisions made.  Whether these are buying decisions, alternate uses for household items, or simply which container to put discarded materials into.  

The order of these “4 Rs” seems a little. well...out of order. There is specific reasoning for this, however.

Rethink how you purchase. Purchase items that are made from recycled materials and items that can be recycled. Also, rethinking your waste habits and the impact or “footprint” left by your decisions. "The ecological footprint is a measure of the load imposed by a given population on nature. It represents the area of the Earth's surface necessary to sustain levels of resource consumption and waste discharge by that population."**

Reuse items more than once before discarding them.  Find alternate uses for things previously thought of as trash.  Storage containers made from old glass jars, bottles made into candle holders, and newspapers doubling as wrapping paper, just to name a few. This constitutes a good basis for preservation.

Recycle items that can essentially be made into new products.  Paper, plastics, glass, aluminum cans and tin cans are among the most popular recycled materials.

Reduce what you discard by following the first 3 Rs.  Reduction begins with conservation in the home.

The wasteNot Society was founded in 1989 by six Northern Indiana waste-related companies.  BORDEN WASTE-AWAY GROUP, INC. (residential and light commercial waste transporter), EARTHMOVERS, INC. (municipal solid waste land disposal facility), HIMCO WASTE-AWAY SERVICE, INC. (commercial and industrial waste transporter), MECHANIC, INC.(specialized equipment maintenance support company), and RECYCLING WORKS, INC. (full-service state-of-the-art recycling center for residential, commercial and industrial post-consumer goods).

The premise of the WasteNot Society lies in the simple concepts of conservation, preservation, and the education of consumers as to the impact everyday decisions make on every day ahead of us.

*http://www.iisd.org/business/tools/bt_4r.aspx
**http://www.evfit.com/footprint.htm