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Three Rs for the Environment: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

May 7, 2015
By Robert Strong, Libby Strong and Richard Pollack - Contributing Writers , OVParent

The late spring and summer breezes bring us outdoors to enjoy the blooming flowers, fresh grass and the sweet smell after a rain. We are able to play outside and enjoy the warmth and sunshine of the longer days of spring and summer. We appreciate nature and the beauty of the environment on these days.

Besides being careful not to litter or damage any of the living things around us, what else can we do to help the environment?

There are three "Rs" we can use to help the environment. One of the most important ways we can help the environment is the first "R"- to REUSE items. Can you think of ways you could reuse an item or items and help the environment this summer and throughout the year?

Article Photos

Ritchie Elementary teachers Elaine Reed and Julie Loy make a craft project using reused items at SMART Centre Market.

Here are some of the reuse ideas we thought of at the SMART-Center :

1. Use a lunch box for your school lunch and for your summer hiking and camping trips.

2. Compost your apple cores, clementine peels and other fruit, vegetable and plant material.

3. Write on the "other" side of a piece of paper (old worksheets or paper that is no longer needed but has something written on one side of it). This is a great idea for "to do" lists, grocery lists and lists of ideas.

4. Carry cloth bags or backpacks for items you bring to school and on outdoor adventures.

5. For shopping, carry cloth or reusable bags for your purchases.

6. Give your outgrown clothing to Salvation Army, Goodwill or some other charitable organization. You also can give your gently used clothing to a friend or relative, or even sell it at a yard sale.

7. Bring a refillable water or drink bottle to school and on trips instead of juice cartons or plastic bottled water or other drinks.

8. Think of ways to make craft projects and other useful items with discarded materials such as soda bottles, toilet paper cardboard tubes and more.

For other reuse ideas, email us at We think that you probably have quite a few good ideas!

The second "R" stands for RECYCLE. Be sure to recycle any materials that you can. Recycling only one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a 100 watt incandescent light bulb for more than three hours! (Use LED bulbs and save even more energy!) Recycle paper and plastic, too. Scrappy Pappy's Recycling in Wheeling receives many types of recyclable material such as paper and plastic (#1-7), glass, cans and cardboard.

For more information on what is recycled at Scrappy Pappy's, visit

To "close the recycling loop," be sure to buy products made of recycled material.

Examples include notebook paper made from recycled paper. The best type of recycled content is called "post-consumer." This means that someone used it, turned it in to recycle and a new product was made from the recycled material. The label should state that the product or its packaging is made from "post-consumer" recycled paper, plastic, etc.

Last, but not least, the third "R" is REDUCE. We all can reduce the amount of material we use and in this way impact resources that are needed to manufacture the product. Choose school lunch options that use less packaging, for example. Reusable containers for sandwiches and other lunch items will reduce the amount of packaging and cost less, too!

Let's help make REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE the three Rs for the future of the environment. You can help! Remember to send your three "Rs" ideas to! Have a wonderful summer enjoying the great outdoors.

Libby and Robert Strong and Richard Pollack work with the SMART-Center, a science outreach organization, the headquarters of which is located at the SMART Centre Market, 30 22nd St., Wheeling.



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