Enviro Girl grew up aware of the “3 R’s” of environmentalism: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But the celebration of “America Recycles Day” seems to fall short of encouraging people to be true environmentalists and shrink their environmental impact. In fact, it encourages just the opposite, greenwashing single use products by telling people to “Recycle them!” You see, recycling would be a useful concept if people really did it–but they don’t. Recycling waste is no different from throwing it away when piles of “recycled” paper and plastic and metal loom beside landfills and manufacturers still turn to virgin materials to make their products.
Super Eco-Warrior Beth Terry makes an excellent point on her blog Fake Plastic Fish in the post “The Truth About America Recycles Day.” We’re forgetting about the other option, the FOURTH “R,” if you will: REFUSE.
Just say no–say no to bottled water, plastic shopping bags, single-wrapped servings of snack food, Happy Meal Toys. Demand better use of our natural resources by consuming less and supporting only those manufacturers committed to reusing recycled materials. Being a modern environmentalist means more than tossing your plastic bottles into the recycling bin. It means connecting our waste stream and our consumption and committing to making both smaller. It means crying “Foul!” when corporations try to sell us on goods that only pad their pockets while increasing our collective environmental impact. It means recognizing wasteful behaviors and addressing them with more efficient solutions.
Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. In that order.
Tell the Eco Women, what do you refuse in the name of environmental activism?