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From the Spring 2011 Conservationist for Kids

family sorting their recycling

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost

By Gina Jack

Reduce! Cut back what you use every day.

Do you really need to make that purchase? (Isn't a book you borrow from the library and return just as good as a new book you may only read once?) Turn lights off if they're not needed and reduce the amount of energy you use. It takes energy to get clean water to your tap, so turn off the water while you brush your teeth; don't just watch it go down the drain. Cutting back on driving reduces your energy use and cuts back on air pollution, too. Consider walking, taking a bicycle, taking public transportation or carpooling to get around.

Reuse! If you can't use it (whatever "it" may be), perhaps someone else can. Clothing, shoes, household items and books are great things to donate to neighborhood sharing centers if they're still in good shape but you no longer need them. What about organizing a game, sports equipment or book swap at school?

Recycle! It's something everyone can do.

Paper, glass, metals and plastics: the more we recycle, the less ends up in landfills. Which items are accepted for recycling varies across the state, so find out what you can recycle at home or school and do your part. Your municipal office or your garbage hauler can help you. Garden and yard waste are accepted for municipal composting programs, sometimes even food scraps!

Composted food scraps are used to enrich the soil to grow more food. Composting is a great way of reusing. (Kaity is working toward a Master Composter Certificate. Master Composters teach others the hows and whys of composting.)

Have you taken a close look at the recycling logo? There are three arrows chasing each other in a loop. It's not enough to put your recyclable items in the recycle bin. To close the loop properly, you also need to buy products made from recycled materials. (Conservationist for Kids is printed on recycled paper.)