Being green is about reducing, not just recycling

TheStar - We have come to that the 3R system in relation to the environment means “reduce, reuse and recycle”, and “recycle” is usually the focus of government campaigns and is shared widely on social media.

We have had it drilled into us that recycling waste we created will help in controlling environment pollution.

Plastic, the trash that will not decay for hundreds of years, can be processed and recycled into reusable plastic or some other product.

However, do you know why the sequence of this slogan begins with the word “reduce”? Why no one ever says “recycle, reduce and reuse”? The reason is that recycling is not the most suitable way to protect our environment.

Reduce is actually the most important action in the 3R system because most waste we produce difficult to decompose. We should first prioritise reducing what we use to reduce the amount of trash we produce – which means less waste in landfills and less to burn. Both these methods of processing waste pollute our environment by destroying soil quality and releasing toxic fumes into the air.

It is reducing your use of plastic and polystyrene that will really help the environment. Think of it this way: The world’s waste is like a bucket of water under a running tap, and a spoon represents recycling; but no matter how many times we spoon the water out of the bucket, the water level doesn’t decrease – that will only happen if we turn the tap off (ie, reduce). Recycling can only help for the moment.

Do you take a reuseable bag with you when you go shopping or to buy groceries? Do you bring along a container when you buy take away from a restaurant? Do you use a reusable metal straw instead of plastic straws?

If we want to save the world, we have to sacrifice something.


Masai, Johor

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