The 3 R’s Don’t Always Mean What You Think

When I was a kid, my grandpa used to always joke about how I needed to go to school to learn the 3 R’s:  (in his Tennessee drawl):  Readin’, Ritin’ and Rithmatic.

The “Readin” has served me well over the years and helped me to develop a photographic memory.  Trust me – this really came in handy during finals week.

The “Ritin” allows me to share my passion with those of you “readin”.  And it comes in handy for all the things that you have to sign off on when your son is in 8th grade.

The “Rithmatic” doesn’t get used as much these days.  Although I’m more than happy to calculate how much money we have saved since embarking on our green journey.

After many years of school and several more in motherhood, I learned about a different set of R’s:  Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Over the years, I realized that I had become a champion at consumerism and accumulating stuff.  This stuff began to overwhelm me emotionally and physically and I knew I had to take action.

Today, I “reduce” the amount of things I buy much more easily now than I ever did.  As a mature adult and mother, I can easily gauge the difference between a want and a need.  And until I have the cash to pay for an item, it stays safely in the store or on the website and sometimes I end up realizing I didn’t need it as much as I thought I did.  And I always make sure that what I buy comes in the least amount of packaging as possible.

Being able to “reuse” or “repurpose” something makes me proud.  I can redecorate (see how these R words seem to flow together?) a room or solve a problem simply by putting something I thought I no longer wanted to better use.  It makes me feel like a genius!

And every week, we aim for just one bag of trash and we “recycle” as much as possible.  Although this year we are trying to drastically “reduce” the amount of recycling as well through composting and reusing.  But having a garage sale or donating unused items are great ways to recycle as well.

But I have a different set of R’s that are becoming more and more important to me as I travel further along on my green journey.  Those 3 R’s are:  Responsibility, Renewable and Resources.

I sincerely believe that caring for the planet is a “responsibility” that belongs to every human being that inhabits it.  We do not “own” this space – we are here on borrowed time.  And we have been entrusted with this space as stewards meant to care for it and treat it with respect (another perfect R word).

We all breathe the air, enjoy the view, drink the water, eat the food.  Life is all about give and take and it’s time that more and more people viewed this endeavor as that responsibility.

“Renewable” sources of energy are so important to the future of this planet.  Again, it can’t be a one sided relationship.  In my marriage, my husband and I are partners.  As a mother, I give my children their basic needs as well as love, guidance and nurturing.  They give me love and respect in return.

The earth works the same way.  If we continue to just take from it, there won’t be anything left.  Already, we are seeing so many animal species who are endangered and rain forests (another priceless R word) on the verge of extinction because of greed and an unwillingness to give back.

It’s time to stop.  Think.  What legacy do you want to leave to your children?  Your grandchildren?

The “resources” that we have are for our use, not our destruction.  It doesn’t matter how much you accumulate because you can’t take it with you anyway.

Use what you need, share what you have, and give back.  I promise that if you do, you’ll be all the “richer” for it!

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6 responses to “The 3 R’s Don’t Always Mean What You Think

  1. This is such great advice for everyone! We all need to try to cut down on how much we throw away and also on how much STUFF we tend to accumulate!

  2. I really appreciate your dedication to this topic! When I see my sweet little grand daughter toddling around, these are the types of things that can keep me up at night. This is for all of us, present and future!

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