Reducing means reducing waste before you purchase it, or purchasing products that are not wasteful in their packaging or use. Reusing means just that: reusing materials in their original or modified form instead of throwing them away, or pass those materials on to others who could use them too. One man's trash is another man's treasure! And recycling is the art of separating, collecting, processing, and ultimately re-using or re-manufacturing a material that would have been thrown away, and making it into a new product.
Environmentally aware and green consumers help the environment by practicing the 3-R's system and therefore produce less waste. They are buying products that are less toxic to the environment, are made of recycled materials, and contain less packaging. They are re-using purchased items for lots of other purposes. They are maintaining and repairing products instead of adding them to landfills. And, they are participating in recycling programs all over the country.
So how do our dogs play into the reduce, reuse, recycle 3-R's process? Lots of ways. So lets get started:
These are just a few suggestions of how you can reduce and reuse items for your dog. There are of course thousands of ideas, and they are only limited by your creativity! Just think before you buy and think before you toss :)
- When you're out and about purchasing products for your pups, take into consideration the amount of packaging associated with that product when selecting which green product you want/need to buy. Many green dog product companies are shifting to less packaging. You can help the process by supporting them if the product meets with your green dog standards.
- When you're pup de-stuffs one of their favorite plush toys, you can save the stuffing to use in a new toy that you can make with old clothing or towels. Oh, and be sure and get that squeaker before it's destroyed so you can use it in the new homemade toy, too!
- Is it time for a new collar or leash? Donate the old one to a local rescue or shelter. You can also donate some of your newspapers, old towels, baby gates, and other unused items to your local shelter or rescue. They always need help.
- Got some old towels and washcloths lying around? Use them for door mats to soak up the dirt your pup may drag in from outside. Or, rip them in strips and braid them for a super cool dog tug toy. See more ideas!
- Take your reusable bags every time you go shopping for your dog! And help save those landfills from the dreaded plastic :)
What about recycling? Many of the products and packaging associated with a product are potentially recyclable. Earth911.com has a great website to help you learn all about recycling, what you can and can't recycle, all about the recycling codes and numbers, where there are recycling and curbside pick up in your community, and more. So before you toss it, check and see if you can recycle it!
Here's a little widget we picked up to help you find resources in your community for recycling!
Now, what about those prolific pet food cans and bags? That's the biggest question we get about the 3'R's relating to dogs. And it's one of the ways us dogs have the most impact on the amount of waste that goes into landfills, besides our doo.
So what do you do with the food bags and cans? Here's what we do!
Dog Food Bags - most dog food bags are made with multiple layers designed to keep the dog food fresh. These layers are both paper and plastic. Sadly the plastic layers of these bags are most usually not recyclable. So what can you do? Pull apart and separate the layers of the bags, and recycle the paper layers. You can then reuse the plastic layers after cleaning for quite a few things, like packing items for water tightness, or using them as floor savers when painting.
You can also reuse complete dog food bags for a few things. Turn them inside out and use them for shipping items. Or you can use them as containers or barriers for certain messy items, like used paint stirrers, or to put under your car when changing the oil. You can even use them as knee savers for your Mum when she's out in the garden digging away. And if you just have to throw something out, they make a super trash bag.
Dog Food Cans - most pet food cans are made out of aluminum now-a-days, some may be made of steel. You can tell which by putting a magnet to the can, it will stick to steel, but not aluminum. And many times it will say on the label. Both aluminum and steel are recyclable materials, so make sure you rinse them out, and we recommend taking off the label before adding to your recycling bin.
One more thought. By adding in or feeding raw and home cooked healthy foods to your dog, you can really reduce the amount of dog food bags and cans you bring into your household. Just make sure you do your research on raw and home cooked meals, see our post - Let's Talk Food!
Now sit back and enjoy this nice vid from Green Guy Jack Johnson and his pup, teaching the 3-R's to students of Sunset Beach Elementary School. Happy reducing, reusing and recycling!