The 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) is no longer simply a mantra for environmental activists, it’s a ticket to saving you money while you consider the planet. The 3Rs ask you to buy less, reuse more, and recycle products at the end of their useful life-wonderful guiding principles for reducing our environmental footprint and bringing our lifestyles into balance with nature. But in practice, how many of us are really willing to cut back on the stuff we want to own, to reuse what we’d like to throw out, and to recycle when doing so is often incredibly inconvenient? Fortunately for budget-conscious Lazy Environmentalists, the 3Rs are receiving a twenty-first-century facelift, making them easy to implement and even easier on the wallet.
Reduce, the first of the 3Rs, releases you from the hassle, expense, and waste of unwanted stuff while helping you use less energy and create less trash. And while most of us can’t imagine life without our most prized four-wheeled possession, the first place to embrace Reduce is with our cars. That’s because our automobiles generate about half of our personal greenhouse gas emissions-the other half comes from our homes.
Today, you can enjoy the freedom of being in the driver’s seat while eliminating all of the expense of owning-or leasing-and maintaining a car by joining a car-share service. Zipcar is leading the way. Available in more than 40 U.S. cities, Zipcar lets members locate cars conveniently parked at designated spots around the city and reserve them for an hourly fee (typically between $10.50 and $16.50). Members arrive at the parking spot, swipe their membership card over the windshield sensor to unlock the door, hop in, and go. There’s no need to pay for gasoline or insurance; Zipcar has got you covered. You won’t sacrifice your ride either; Zipcar lets you choose from models like the BMW 325, Mini Cooper, Honda Fit, Volkswagen Jetta, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Volvo S40, Mazda 3, and Subaru Outback. According to the company’s surveys, over time Zipcar members reduce their car usage by as much as 50 percent. Zipcar estimates that each of its cars removes the equivalent of about 15 privately owned vehicles from the road. Other car-sharing services are popping up across the country and around the world. Visit Carsharing.net for a comprehensive list.
Reuse-the middle child of the 3Rs-has been a part of our lives before we were “eco” anything (eco-conscious, eco-savvy, even a tentative eco-curious). Think about it: Every day, we reuse items like T-shirts, cereal bowls, and underwear without a second thought. We don’t toss them after one use. We reuse. The secret to twenty-first century Reusing is to discover how to reuse other people’s really cool stuff as well as our own.
Reuse logic is in effect at Goozex.com, where gamers gather to swap their video game. Visit the website, create an account and list the games you own that you’d like to trade. Then Goozex quickly locates other gamers who want them and makes instantaneous matches for you. With each game you mail, you earn Goozex points, which you can then use to acquire the games you want from other members. Instead of spending lots of money on new games (and paying for all that packaging waste), you’ll pay Goozex $1 each time you receive a game. Whether you’re partial to Xbox, Wii, Nintendo, or many other gaming platforms, the Goozex trading community has got you covered. Get your reused copy of Call of Duty 2 or NCAA Football 09 today.
Swapping websites are emerging in all kinds of categories. Bookworms can browse more than two million titles available for trade at Paperbackswap.com. Movie collectors can visit Swapadvd.com to trade both new and classic DVD titles. CD fans (you know you’ve still got ’em) can tap into more than 130,000 titles available at Swapacd.com. And new and expecting parents can trade for baby strollers, bibs, bedding, bumpers, and more at Zwaggle.com.
Recycle, the last of the 3R trio, is the most transformative of the Rs. When we recycle, we’re giving used products the chance to be reborn as something new. That’s especially the case thanks to companies like Preserve that has partnered with Stonyfield Farm to recycle its yogurt cups-from organic yogurt, of course-into ergonomic plastic toothbrushes, razors, and an assortment of colorful kitchenware (and now also does the same with Brita pitcher filters).
TerraCycle, another green innovator, is on pace to redefine much of America’s relationship with trash. The company that began with its signature Plant Food-made from worm poop, packaged in empty Pepsi bottles and sold at the likes of Home Depot and Wal-Mart-has evolved into an innovation powerhouse that continually introduces new products made entirely from waste. Take the E-Water Trash Cans and Recycling Bins available at OfficeMax for $10.99 each and made from crushed computers and fax machines (that would otherwise end up in a landfill). Or the rain barrels and composters made from Kendall-Jackson oak wine barrels that sell for $99 each at Sam’s Club. They’re both prime examples of a company that sees opportunity where others see garbage. In so doing, TerraCycle helps us make attractive choices that are mindful of the planet and our wallets.
Josh Dorfman is an environmental entrepreneur, media personality and author of The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish, Green Living. He is also the founder and CEO of Vivavi, a retailer of modern, green furniture and home furnishings. His latest book, The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time. Save The Planet, is now available. For more information, please visit: http://www.lazyenvironmentalist.com