Recycling and Waste


Audeliz Matias, Center for Distance Learning, SUNY Empire State College writes:

“One of the most well-known themes of sustainability is the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. These actions, written in order starting from that which has the greatest impact on the environment, are the cornerstone of a sustainability plan.

Unfortunately, all too often people jump to the third “R,” recycling, with the thought that recycling the old will make up for the indulgence of purchasing new materials. There is no doubt that recycling reduces the amount of waste we sent to landfills, saves energy and creates new jobs. However, if we only focus on recycling, we are ignoring the effects of manufacturing new materials in the environment. Normal, everyday manufacturing operations include activities that could increase greenhouse gas emissions and wastewater pollution as well as the use of natural resources and energy. For instance, the manufacturing fabrics for clothing could potential create gasses more potent than carbon or realize hazardous chemicals to water bodies depending on what they are made of. Reducing the amount of clothing we buy and reusing items by handing down clothing can make a big impact on our environment.

Below is a list of resources on this topic. Find a more complete list of resources and links for learning and teaching about this topic on our Pinterest site:
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The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change, Annie Leonard

Web Resources Sustainable Apparel Coalition Reduce, Reuse, Recycle– Story of Stuff Project