Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Everyone knows the iconic green arrowed triangle. Next month we’re celebrating America Recycles Day on Nov 15 and we want to help and empower you on ways of becoming more aware of your plastic and waste consumption.

I can’t believe I’m going to tell you this but I only recently bought reusable produce bags and you know what, I absolutely love them. I can’t see myself ever going to the store again without them!

Here’s where I bought mine.

Before covid, the grocery store would charge you for your plastic bag, I loved that that was happening, it really started to have an impact on people bringing their own bags in. And now, they don’t charge and everyone is using them! Eeks! When you bring your own bags, employees aren’t allowed to help you pack them and I feel it really encourages people not to bring their own. (I’m not complaining about the rules I just think there is a better way to handle this. If the employees are already wearing gloves, what difference does it make if they pack the bag or not?)

I get a sick feeling in my stomach every time I think about how many bags are going out in a day.

I’ve continued to bring my own reusable bags and I actually enjoy the slowing down process of the grocery store line. However, if I feel like I’m holding back the line too long I just put the groceries back in my cart and load my bags when I get to the car.

Recap, that’s the first R - Reduce.

Rethink and become mindful of what your actual usage and consumption is.

Reuse! My favorite R!

A passion that I’ve handed down to my kids is thrifting, going to garage sales, estate sales and flea markets! If you’ve ever been to my house it’s an artistically eclectic mix of new and vintage. Some of my fav’s are vintage glassware and lighting.

Another way to reuse and another one of my favorites is composting!

What’s an organic garden without the use of your own kitchen scrapes going back into the earth (or fed to the worm bin) to create ‘black gold’ or perfect soil!

I bought my collection bin from, but you truly can use anything with a resealable lid, and believe me I’ve used old yogurt containers and whatever else was on hand.

Also, don’t forget to donate your unwanted items. Your trash is another persons treasure!

I think another word for reuse is repurpose! I’ve turned bookshelves into plant stands, broken mugs into plant vases, old spaghetti sauce jars for juicing, newspapers in the green beds, old pillows for dog beds, you name it, my family has repurposed it.

Recap - Reuse! Don’t jump into throwing it away. Ask yourself, can it be easily fixed or used somewhere else?

And finally, Recycle!

I hope by now you separate your trash in your kitchen refuse and recycle. Recycling is easier to do when there’s a designated canister nearby to collect your recyclables.

Helpful tip: Make sure the item you are putting in the container is clean!

The waste management company for Orange County is Solag Disposal and the nearest landfill is San Juan Capistrano. That facility is now owned by the County of Orange. is a great resource to use for finding out what happens to your waste, their greenwaste composting program, a downloadable recycling guide and so much more! They even give tours of the facility, but due to COVID it is closed for now. is another great resource to help you with bigger items. Tip: Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, will take working appliances.

The big WHY!

Maybe you’re asking; why do we need to be mindful of the 3 R’s.

Well, I’m glad you asked! Not everyone is as passionate about trash, waste and the environment as I am, so here are 50 facts to get you thinking.

1. Nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled.

2. Landfills are among the biggest contributors to soil pollution – roughly 80% of the items buried in landfills could be recycled.

3. Although 75% of America’s waste is recyclable, we only recycle around 30% of it.

4. A single recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours. It also creates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than would be created when making a new bottle.

5. Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as it takes to burn it.

6. It only takes 5 recycled plastic bottles to make enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket.

7. Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty and it can be recycled!

8. The U.S. recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we’re able to get the rate to 75%, the effect will be like removing 50 million passenger cars from U.S. roads.

9. Over 11 million tons of recyclable clothing, shoes, and textiles make their way into landfills each year.

10. The leading cities for recycling in the US are (#1) San Francisco, CA (#2) Boston, MA (#3) Chicago, IL (#4) Denver, CO and (#5) Portland, OR.

11. The leading countries for recycling rates are: (#1) Switzerland [52%] (#2) Australia [49.7%] (#3) Germany [48%] (#4) Netherlands [46%] and (#5) Norway [40%].

The United States comes in around 31.5%.

12. 9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier”.

13. Studies indicate that women on average typically express more concern for the environment and are more likely to recycle than men.

14. The United States throws away $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year.

15. In the United States, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour – about 42,000 per minute, or about 695 per second. 16. It takes 500 years for average sized plastic water bottles to fully decompose.

17. The amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the state of Texas.