Here are practical and cost-effective tips for an eco-friendly lifestyle by following the time-tested, yet
simple principles of Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling, which are most effective when executed in
that order. In other words, always recycle something that can be recycled instead of tossing it into the
landfill, but it’s better to avoid recycling by Reusing, and still better to avoid Reusing by Reducing what
you consume. Simple, right? Try these money-saving and planet-saving tips today and share with
family & friends and see what a difference you can make.
Much more relevant content will be added as time permits, so check back often.
is not simply
in the eye of the
It's in our hands
The Concept of Reducing
Humans like “stuff”, and just based on how big our closets are compared to a few decades ago or
the bazillion catalogs that sell a bazillion products, the more the merrier, right? Well while there’s
nothing wrong with having lots of things, every “thing” that is manufactured consumes non-renewable
natural resources and energy. On top of that, pollution is generated, so there no arguing that there is
a real environmental penalty for the stuff we make and consume, whether that stuff is reusable or
disposable. So that’s why Reducing is the first thing to do since if you don’t make it, there’s nothing
to reuse and certainly nothing to recycle or toss. Generally-speaking, living with less is
environmental rule #1, so the trick is to strike an eco-sustainable balance, which certainly can be
challenging we are all basically kids in the candy shop, but it's not impossible once you understand
what's at stake...the environmental challenges we're making now that future generations will have to
The Concept of Reusing
As related to Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), reusing is the technique of using a durable product over
and over again in order to avoid recycling, or worse, the landfill. It’s easy to understand the benefits
of not tossing something into a hole in the ground and burying it, like avoiding the resulting man-
made trash mountain and all the natural resources and energy that goes into running a landfill. But
what about recycling? Isn’t recycling a “green” thing? Of course it is, and everyone should go the
extra mile to recycle as much as possible to avoid tossing something that has value (see below) into
a landfill. But if you step back and look at the big picture, the recycling lifecycle isn’t a free ride. In
other words, it takes natural resources and energy to make products and it takes natural resources
and energy to recycle them, so it is far better to make a product once that can be used over and over
again instead of making something that is used once and then tossed or recycled. Not only are
reusable products better for us and the planet, they most likely have much better features and
functions than single-use products and are more convenient, so it makes all the sense in the world
to choose to reuse instead of use-and-toss.
The Concept of Recycling
Recycling should be considered a privilege instead of a chore once you understand how much
energy and natural resources are being saved for us and future generations, yet recycling rates hover
around a shameful 34% according to the EPA despite it being so easy these days to recycle with
commingled curbside recycling and numerous commingled recycling centers all around Loudoun.
Recycling isn't only a privilege, it's really our responsibility to the other inhabitants of this planet. Plus,
it’s the law for residents to recycle as much as possible, and while businesses only have to recycle
one thing, the principle recyclable material, which is frankly pathetic, that’s still one less valuable
thing that ends-up in the landfill. If you still need motivation to do the right thing, here are a few white
papers that highlight the value of recycling to us humans and underscores why KLB recycles litter
that can be recycled.
Since you care enough to recycle, doesn't it make sense that the recycling you collect actually gets
recycled? Well did you know that the widely-used open-top curbside recycling totes are the leading
source of careless littering? That’s right! All it takes is a bit of wind from winter storms or summer
thunderstorms, and your lightweight recycling blows out and becomes harmful litter, rolling down the
street to the nearest storm drain or ditch on its way to pollute our fragile ecosystem. If that upsets
you, and it should, the solution is really simple: Just put a lid on it! Use a covered recycling tote that
your trash hauler should provide, but if not, you can buy one at your local home improvement store or
simply draw the recycling symbol on a cheap covered trash can. It’s that easy.
Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling in Action
Here are practical, every day examples of applying these eco-sustainable principles that saves
natural resources, energy, money, and time, while reducing pollution and eliminating the need to
grow our landfills.
Leading By Example
As they say, "the proof is in the pudding", and KLB takes that seriously by not only talking the talk, but
walking the walk. We lead by example to both save money and minimize our environmental impact
with our events while at the same time demonstrate to our volunteers that it is indeed possible and
not hard to do. Here's what we do for events with 100+ volunteers, so if we can lead by example, you
- Bottled water is a global environmental disaster and the #1 litter scourge, so it's a no-brainer
that KLB is a Certified Bottled Water Free Zone along with our events. Volunteers are
encouraged to bring their own reusable bottle. We bring chilled filtered water and lemonade
in 5 gallon coolers for self-serve refilling. If volunteers forget their reusable bottle, reusable
cups are available.
- The peels and cores from donated fruit (oranges, bananas, apples, etc.) are collected and
later added to a compost heap instead of rotting in the landfill.
- We try to provide finger foods to keep it simple, but if there is a need for plates and silverware,
all of that is reusable and very affordable at local department stores.
- We provide cloth napkins instead of the usual paper ones as these are easy to wash and
- All donated refreshment packaging, like cardboard and plastic bags, are recycled.
- Soiled gloves and rags we provide to volunteers are collected, washed, and returned to
- Trash and recycling bags are reused if they are not too damaged.
Here are some tips to beautify your outdoor space while being kind to your planet and saving money
in the process – a true win-win-win.
- Mowing: All or most walk-behind lawn mowers available these days, as well as many riding
mowers, have a mulching mode, so you should take advantage of this zero-cost way of
nourishing your yard. Plus, mulching eliminates the need to bag your clippings, so you will
save a bunch of time. If you need to get a new mower, consider a non-gas powered model
(with a mulching mode, of course) to eliminate emissions and the hassle & expense of
maintaining a gas engine.
- Composting: Even if you’re smart and choose the mulching mower mode, chances are you
will still have some yard debris to dispose of. But before you toss it all, you should consider
composting whatever can be composted. It’s pretty cool to dump in some yard waste into a
composter and in a short while, see it turn into free, nutrient-rich material that you can use in
your garden, potted plants, and elsewhere around your property.
- Responsible Yard Waste Disposal: If you must dispose of yard waste curbside, make sure
you skip the tree-killing disposable yard waste bags. Instead, get a few inexpensive reusable
trash cans and write “YARD WASTE” on them. In addition to saving your planet, you can stuff
more in them, they won’t turn to mush in the rain, and you will save a boatload of money in no
time. Plus, you can use these cans for other tasks throughout the year. Of course, never use
plastic bags for yard waste destined for a composting facility.
- Fertilizing: Rule #1 is that you don’t need to keep up with the Joneses to have a healthy lawn.
It’s always best to analyze your soil using readily available test kits/services instead of just
assuming what it needs. If you must fertilize, be sure to use something that is slow-release
and organic and don’t over-fertilize as these are contributing factors to our local watershed
and Chesapeake Bay mess we have been dealing with for many, many years.
- Lastly, here’s a useful EPA document that reinforces the tips above as well as provides some