Kindness to the Earth: Ditch the Dumping Ground

By Audrey Sillett Lintner

The theme of reduce, reuse, and recycle has become a part of our collective consciousness, right up there with wi-fi and coffee. We all know about it, we all know it’s a good thing, but how many of us actually put it into practice?

Why should we put it into practice?

More than just a triad of feel-good buzzwords, the eco-friendly Three Rs are a way of life that incorporates our theme of kindness.  Be kind to Mother Nature, and she’ll be kind to you.  Let’s look at reduction, for example.  Do you like to breathe?  Me, too.  By reducing the number of trips you take in the family truckster, you can reduce your annual contribution to air pollution.  I’m not saying that you should walk everywhere, but simple steps like carpooling or parking in a central location in order to accomplish several errands within walking distance can really add up.

Reuse.  Anyone who grew up during the Great Depression or World War II is a past master of this trick.  Outgrown clothes?  Pass them down to the next kid in the family.  Clothes worn out? Cut them up and use the still-good pieces to make quilts and other items.  With the arrival of the Internet, inspiration is just a click away.  It’s easier than ever now to seek out new ways to use old stuff, rather than wasting resources by buying another impulse item.

Recycle.  It’s not just for plastic bottles anymore.  Batteries, appliances, and metal of all kinds can be recycled.  While crossing a bridge one day, my husband and I happened to look down into the creek.  Rather than splashing fish and playful raccoons, we saw a washing machine and several tires.  My husband was outraged.  “Look at that.  People live here for thousands of years, and all they leave are a few arrowheads.  We’re here for a couple hundred, and leave a mess like this.” The recycling bug bit us hard that day, and has been hanging on ever since.  With a recycling center a matter of blocks away, it wasn’t a difficult decision.  Now the only hard part is reminding him to tie a sturdier knot around the old newspapers!

Reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Three small changes that can add up to big differences.  If you’d like to prove it to yourself, try a little experiment at home.  For the next month, choose an item to recycle. Cans are a good place to start.  Recycle cans for one month, and treat yourself to a trip to the Farmer’s Market or the local garden center with the proceeds.

If you’ve ever tasted a homegrown organic tomato, you know that nature knows how to repay kindness.

Question: Is the cost of recycled or organic products offset by long-term benefits?  Please leave us a comment!

Need some more ideas for applying the Three Rs? Download our free lesson plans!

What Does It Mean To Be Green? Lesson Plan

Sofia’s Dream Lesson Plan 


Here’s another cool thing – you can buy What Does It Mean To Be Green? this month for $9.95 during our first-ever warehouse sale. Click here to shop now! That’s a $7 savings on this award-winning hard cover book printed on fine recycled paper using soy inks.

8 thoughts on “Kindness to the Earth: Ditch the Dumping Ground

  1. The three Rs have always been important, but even more so now. This morning’s news seemed to be all about climate change. If we can recover, it starts with the kids.

  2. My grandparents and their generation used to practice this, but along the way it got lost. Glad to hear a new generation is picking up on it!

  3. More important than ever is the 4th R – Refuse! People simply don’t need much of what they buy. At my house, we try to practice a simple rule based on this question: will we own and use this until we die? If not, best not to bring it home to begin with. Needless to say, we aren’t always successful, but it helps with clothing, furniture, tools, and many other goods. Electronics are more difficult to manage.

  4. Dani beat me to it- refuse is my personal favorite of the R’s, and the one we make the most use of at our house. The question above, though, about the cost of recycled or organic products being offset by long term benefits is more difficult. The no-brainer answer is yes…but the truth of the matter is stickier. We would love to only buy organic, local, fair trade, etc. but we really and truly can’t afford it. We’re a family of nine, with a budget of $150 a week at the most for groceries. We don’t buy prepared or prepackaged foods unless we absolutely have to. We simply can’t afford to buy organic or “green” most of the time. For wide reaching change, this has got to turn around, so that everyone can afford to be healthy and green!

  5. My husband is the king of refusing! We have a very small house, so every potential purchase gets the thrice-over.

  6. Thank you for this post Audrey! I definitely need to get better at the 4th “R”. Trying to condense my belongings to one small closet has been interesting in this move! As I am sorting through my items, I keep thinking “live simply and respectfully”.

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