3R is sometimes called the waste hierarchy. Here’s how that hierarchy might apply to computers:
A. The concept behind the first R, reduce, is that you should limit the number of purchases that you make in the first place. So, for example, you might limit your household to a single computer.
- Purchase Fewer Items
- Before you buy something, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If the answer is “no”, don’t buy it.
- Purchase Items that Use Less Packaging
- Shop smart by purchasing items in earth-friendly packaging. Look for products that use minimal packaging, and when possible, choose products that are packaged in recycled materials. Another way is to buy bulk items. For example, less packaging is used in one large bag of potato chips, versus single serving bags of chips.
- Use Items Sparingly
- The longer you make items last, the less often you have to buy them.
- Lower Your Carbon Footprint
- Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), or greenhouse gases, you release into the environment through your daily activities.
Natural gas, electricity and transportation are some things that contribute to your carbon footprint.
B. The concept behind the second R, reuse, is that you should reuse items as much as possible before replacing them. For example, it generally makes more environmental sense to update your computer rather than get rid of it and buy a new one. However, if you do replace your computer, you should ensure that it, or its components, are reused. Many charitable organizations welcome donations of second-hand computers.
- Craft Ideas
- Get the kids involved! Gather up old boxes, scrap paper, magazines, newspaper, cans, bottles and cloth material from around the house, along with some scissors, glue, paint and crayons, and you have everything you need to have some fun. Paint and decorate old cereal boxes and turn them into pretty jewelry boxes. Make unique birthday cards by cutting out magazine photos and gluing them to cardboard or paper. Painting or gluing pictures onto old cans or bottles is one technique to create a vase. Kids have great imaginations; you might be surprised on the unique creations they make out of old stuff from around the house.
C. The concept behind the third R, recycle, is that you should ensure that items or their components are put to some new purpose as much as possible. If your computer is not fit for reuse as is, you can donate it to one of several organizations which will refurbish it or recycle its components.
- Recycling centers melt down cans, bottles and other items to create new materials to manufacture new products. Recycling is the third best way to conserve and be earth-friendly. It conserves landfill space and saves energy because it takes less energy to manufacture products out of recycled materials than it does to manufacture them out of virgin materials. For example, it takes 95 percent less energy to make aluminium cans out of recycled aluminium than it does to use virgin aluminium, according to the Car Manufacturer’s Institute. However, even though this process saves energy, it still does use energy, which is why reducing and reusing are preferable to recycling.
- Sometimes a fourth R is added to the three basic ones, generally standing for either “rethink” or “recover.” Rethink is sometimes added to the front of the hierarchy, meaning that we should consider our options and think about their impact on the environment. Recover, which is the last R, refers to the practice of putting waste products to use. For example, decomposing waste produces methane gas (one of the greenhouse gases), which some landfill sites recover and burn for energy rather than letting it dissipate.