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7R Basics

Do you remember the 3Rs? Now, there are 7 of them!

We're all consumers. What we buy and how we dispose of waste can harm the environment. A big part of a "green choice" life is choosing the type of consumer we're going to be. Green consumers think about the environmental impact of what they buy and whether they need to buy at all. 

You've heard about the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They've expanded to become the 7Rs! Work your way through all of them and you'll be well on your way to living a Zero Waste Life (definition: to send nothing to the landfill). Some items might still end up in the landfill, but when this needs to happen find out how to dispose of them responsibly.

Getting started with the 7Rs: Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Regift, Recycle

Can I recycle this? : a guide to better recycling and how to reduce single-use plastics by Jenny Romer
Perfectly good food : a totally achievable zero waste approach to home cooking
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Don't be trashy : a practical guide to living with less waste and more joy
Compost city: practical composting know-how for small-space living
The story of stuff : how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health--and a vision for change
Composting for a new generation: latest techniques for the bin and beyond
Kanopy Streaming Video: Environmental Sciences
Outsmart waste: the modern idea of garbage and how to think our way out of it
Waste not : make a big difference by throwing away less by Erin Rhoads
Upcycle! : turn everyday objects into home decor: 50 easy DIY projects
Trashing the planet: examining our global garbage glut
The virtuous consumer : your essential shopping guide for a better, kinder, healthier world
What We Leave Behind
Garbology: our dirty love affair with trash
Plastic Planet (DVD)
How to give up plastic: a guide to saving the world, one plastic bottle at a time by Will McCallum
Voluntary Simplicity
Radical simplicity : small footprints on a finite earth
All you need is less : the eco-friendly guide to guilt-free green living and stress-free simplicity
Garbage land: on the secret trail of trash
Less : a visual guide to minimalism
Wear no evil : how to change the world with your wardrobe
Building with secondhand stuff: how to reclaim, repurpose, re-use & upcycle salvaged & leftover materials
Ruby star wrapping: creating packaging to reuse, regive, and relove
101 tees: restyle + refashion + revamp
Upcycling : 20 creative projects made from reclaimed materials: 20 creative projects made from reclaimed materials
101 ways to go zero waste
Zinn & the art of mountain bike maintenance
The Family handyman make it last.
Life without plastic : the practical step-by-step guide to avoiding plastic to keep your family and the planet healthy
My zero-waste kitchen : easy ways to eat waste free
Composting basics: all the skills and tools you need to get started

The 7Rs explained

1. RETHINK: Step back and think about the type of consumer you want to be and what this means for the environment.


2. REFUSE: Think before you buy and be prepared to not buy at all. Green consumers place themselves at the start of the buy-and-use cycle. They buy less and buy products that do the least harm to the environment.


3. REDUCE: Buy less, buy products that have little or no packaging and that last a long time, borrow instead of buy, and compost. Items that are no longer needed or used are donated or sold.  


4. REUSE: Upcycle instead of throw away. Examples: glass jars can be used to store dry goods, old calendar pages are used as DIY envelopes, old toothbrushes are used to clean hard to reach places, empty toothpaste tubes are used as funnels. 


5. REPAIR: Try to fix items before disposing of them. Our current culture has been called a "throwaway society" because more items end up in the landfill than need to. This harms the environment and uses more of the earth's resources to make new items. We can help conserve the earth's resources by fixing things and participating in the "Repair Movement".


​6. REGIFT: When you regift, you give someone a gift that you received from someone else. Don't feel guilty! Passing it on to someone who will enjoy it more than you is a good thing. You just need to follow this etiquette: You are certain the gift is something the recipient would enjoy. The gift is brand new and comes in its original box. The gift isn't handmade or a family treasure.


7. RECYCLE (Compost): Put things back into the waste stream to be used again for something else. Glass is used for roads, plastics are melted down to make new products, and the organic waste that we compost is used to fertilize our gardens. 

Zero Waste information and organizations

Zero Waste is a goal to strive for, and it isn't easy, but it can be done. Explore these resources to get started.