Ever since our new servant arrived (I’m so thankful for her lending her energy to keeping this household clean!) I’ve been actively weeding out a lot of old junk from our shelves and cupboards in the apartment. Looking at the (shameful) piles of unused toys, clothing, books etc. got me thinking about how my family is currently practising the 3R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recyle — and how we can do more. We’re not just talking about a once-off spring cleaning exercise, but as a sustained part of our lifestyle.
So in this blogpost I’d like to share with you some of the things that we do in our household in an effort to lessen our contribution to landfills, and also our impact on Nature itself. What’s important was determining what worked for usÂ realistically, given that we live in an apartment in the city, and the lifestyle that we currently have. Some ideas here could work for you too. Or perhaps you can chime in with your own experiences with making the 3R’s a part of your life — I’d love to hear your stories!
Separate Your Rubbish
Paper, glass, plastics. I find that our kitchen is the place that generates the most of the latter two, so I put out a shopping bag just outside the kitchen in the yard as a designated catch-all for used containers. Newspapers go on a pile in the yard for me to grab whenever I need some space-fillers for packaging my soap, or wrapping up soiled diapers before tossing them in the bin to lessen the smell.
Identify Your Nearest Recycling Station
If you’re Malaysian and haven’t already spotted yours, visitÂ this page to help you locate the nearest recycling station in your neighbourhood (the website’s search function is horrible, unfortunately — but I suppose it’s better than nothing at all). Ours happens to be extremely convenient — it’s right on the front porch of my son’s playschool, which is at the bottom of the hill from where we live. Go Educare!
Designate a “Recycling Day” Every Week
For us, this would be Friday, where I grab the shopping bag on the way to fetching the kids from playschool. I plonk the bag in front of the recycling bins while waiting for them to come out to the front door. I do this because if they see me carrying the bag, a tussle to see who gets first dips is sure to ensue!
If You Have Children, Get Them Actively Involved
Most young children love to emulate what mummy and daddy do, so getting them to help you out in your recycling chores could be really easy! In my case, they usually get very excited about placing the glass and plastic containers in the correct recycling bins, sometimes literally falling over themselves in the process. :p The beauty about how children think is that they don’t distinguish between ‘work’ and ‘play’. We’re taking advantage of this to cultivate good habits in them while they’re young.
Use A Kitchen Disposal Unit
We had our Insinkerator installed before we even moved in to the apartment, some 4 years ago. Here’s why:
- No dripping mess from wet refuse leaking through punctured rubbish bags from bin to front door, and from front door to rubbish room. Cleaner home, and it’s being considerate to other residents.
- We end up using fewer rubbish bags.
- Our rubbish bin area doesn’t stink of kitchen refuse (but diapers, ah, that’s another ball game entirely. Hence wrapping them up in newspaper before tossing them!)
Donate Unwanted But Useable Items
Old clothes and toys in good condition are usually welcome at places like orphanages. If you have good reading material that you won’t need anymore, you could suss out a nearby old folks’ home or library to contribute them to.
Or if you’re a fashion junkie and you want to clear some space for your next collection of skinny jeans, why not cash out on last season’s fashion by putting them up for sale as second hand goods on places likeÂ Ebay?
Or how about organizing a jumble sale with some of your friends as a fun way to part with your old clothes, furniture, books and magazines? You’ll meet old friends, make new ones, and it’s a chance for you to check out each others’ wardrobe contents. I have yet to organise one myself, but these events can yield amazing pre-loved finds. My best purchase at a jumble sale was a genuine DKNY leather jacket — for just RM30. I walked away from the sale feeling like a million bucks!
Find new uses for items around your home. For me, I found that the kids love their plastic yoghurt tubs as water play toys! It saves us a little bit of money this way. For novel ideas in this arena I usually head over to Real Simple’s website for a browse, which can turn out to be quite entertaining and inspiring.
These are just a few ways we are incorporating the 3R habit into our family life. It takes a little conscious effort and a playful approach to the serious issue of conservation. How do You do it?