10 Tips for Reducing, Re-using, Recycling & Recovering

Reduce, re-use, recycle…there are many ways to consume less!

The 4-R method is a highly effective and very responsible way to manage and reduce waste matter… but what does the acronym stand for?

Reduce: You can reduce waste by consuming less. You might avoid over-eating, as an example. Before buying something, ask yourself if you truly need it. You’ll save money, too!

Re-use: We should use and re-use things until they no longer serve a purpose. Before discarding an object, think first if someone else can use it, or if it can be recycled. Think of ways to re-use items, such as keeping leftovers in empty yogurt containers, or using empty jam jars for drinking glasses. Be creative!

For the past two years now, and as part of Quebec’s Waste Reduction Week, Cascades has organized its own “Barter & Exchange” program. Everyone living in and around Bois-Francs is invited to swap items that they no longer use, in exchange for items they do. People enjoy great finds, good fun, and a moneyless way to refresh their lives! If only more exchanges were organized this way, right?

Recycle: Glass, paper, cardboard, plastic… recycle everything possible! Paper and cardboard can be re-used to make more of the same, which is what we do here at Cascades. Glass can be ground into powder and reconstituted for new uses, too, and rubber can be broken down and given a second life in tires.

Recover: Make gold out of garbage with composting. If your community doesn’t offer central composting services or sites, you can easily buy a composting unit from a local hardware store and keep it in your backyard. Some municipalities offer training and discounts on composting materials.

1. Use recycled copy paper in your printer, and set your printer default to print on both sides.

2. Use the blank side of printed pages to take notes or for other uses.

3. Find other uses for empty cardboard boxes and/or packages.

4. Swap any clothes you no longer wear with family and friends, or donate them to places that resell them for charity or offer them to shelters.

5. Make rags out of discarded clothing items.

6. Use the water collected by your dehumidifier to water your plants.

7. Buy in bulk when possible to avoid excess packaging waste and/or avoid buying over-packaged items.

8. Wash and re-use plastic containers for leftovers and food storage.

9. Avoid over-consumption of bottled water and plastic beverage containers. Is there a water fountain nearby? Buy a permanent water bottle and keep it filled and handy!

10. Before discarding your old computer, laptop or smart phone, consider donating it to a local organization for use if it is still running. If not, dispose of it properly at a local eco-center for recycling, or at a store such as Staples, which is set up to recoup used electronics.

At work

Organize a group to form a “Green Committee.” The more people you can involve, the more successful it will be. Make sure you have management’s permission, of course, and hopefully you’ll get their support as well.

What about you? Any tips to share for consuming less on a regular basis?

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About the Author
Marie-Eve Chapdelaine

Marie-Eve Chapdelaine is a specialist in sustainable development and has worked at Cascades since 2006. She is particularly interested in building public awareness and changing attitudes regarding social and environmental issues. In her role at Cascades, Marie-Eve uses her expertise to inform, guide and support her colleagues in maintaining the company’s leadership position in sustainable development. She has earned an undergraduate degree in public communications from Université Laval and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environment at Université de Sherbrooke. “I’ve always been interested in environmental causes, but also in social issues. Sustainable development allows me to pursue both interests at once. What better than to work at Cascades, a beacon in this area, and a company that is open to implementing all sorts of measures to improve performance and maintain its leadership position.” Because she believes every citizen needs to take responsibility for improving their living environment, Marie-Eve is also socially engaged, sitting on several community boards and committees.

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  1. Pete at 12:22 pm

    2. Use the blank side of printed pages to take notes or for other uses. Haha, I always do this! Mostly because I’m almost always out of paper to write on, so I just find the first thing that comes to hand, old documents or old study notes. But I can’t say that it helps me to have less mess in my room. At least I’m saving the environment in a way. I also read about using glass jars as lamps. Not sure how safe this is, but it sounds practical. And also, do not throw away old yoghurt cups, you can use them as normal cups, or they can hold your toothbrushes in the bathroom!

  2. Suzanne Holt at 7:46 pm

    I am right there with Pete. He took the words right out of my mouth. Using printed paper for notes is a great way to cut back. I have been doing this for years now.

    Reusable containers is also another one of my favorite recommendations here. Although paper products are convenient, they really are a big waste.