What are the 6 “R” of sustainability?

By Bikram Singh, the ambassador of Clean Coast Sardinia with the Erasmus+ program

Reduce: Reduce your waste through different means; pack your lunch, reusable non-disposable, learn to compost, biodegradable options, refillable options, store food without using plastic, eat more whole foods and package-free options, buy second-hand products, shop ethical brands, reusable bags. This will help to protect valuable resources. Manufacturers can design products that need less packaging during transportation, less energy to manufacture, and fewer materials in their products. While transporting the products straight to the customers can reduce carbon emission, too.

Refuse:The consumers have the right to refuse to accept unethical or wasteful designs, use cloth rags or napkins rather than paper. Strictly refuse the things that you think are not appropriate to use such as plastic straws for drinks. Do not buy fruit that are packed in plastic or wrapped because they are already naturally covered. Also, some fresh vegetables do not need unnecessary packaging. Refuse it when the supermarkets ask you to take a plastic bag. Take your bags in this case.

Repair: Repairs the products that are broken or damaged rather than replace them. Save your money for something good. Do not throw them away the things instead think about giving them another life. Try to fix and mend it. Use the product properly and worry less about it. This will help extend the product’s life.

Recycle:Recycle the materials that are already used. Use the parts again in a different way such for decoration, paint it and keep in the garden, etc. This saves natural resources and stops material from being wasted. A few examples of recycling include making drainage pipes and clothes from plastic bottles, aluminium cans are melted down to make new products, etc.

Re-use: Re-use the products. Reuse the items you already have. If you do not need then donate them. Make someone happy. This lowers the material waste. It also lowers energy consumption as no machines are used to reprocess any material. For example, a broken clay pot can be used as a flower vase or for any sort of decorative purposes. So as for the plastic bags and carrier bags, which can be used for many daily things. Another example, taking the screws off a broken product and using them in a new product.

Re-think: Re-think our attitude to our environmental impacts. An example would be piazza cardboard or the fast-food trays, are waste of products as it requires more energy and money to recycle. One could ask himself/herself “Do I need to replace my mobile phone every year?” – No, you do not have to if it works efficiently and accurately.

The manufacturers and designers need to consider these 6Rs into account when designing new products. Most of us are familiar with 3R but only a few of 6Rs. Always look for items that are recycled, recyclable, reliable, repairable, refillable, and reusable. Consumers could question themselves before making any purchases:

  1. Reduce – do we need all these things? Can we simplify? Or should we not buy?
  2. Re-use – Which things can I use again? Does it have another valuable use? Be creative.
  3. Repair – Is it easy to repair and continue to use? Give it a try.
  4. Rethink – How can it do the job better? Is there a better way to reduce environmental damage?
  5. Refuse – Is it necessary? Will it last?
  6. Recycle – How easy is it to take apart? How can the parts be used again? Are the products recycled?

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