Goodwill puts a focus on ‘waste hierarchy,’ embracing the Three R’s — Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

At the turn of the 19th century, an enterprising educator coined the phrase “The Three Rs” to help outline the importance of the three basic skills taught in schools: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

They took poetic license with the word arithmetic, but the catchy phrase proved popular — until the 1960s. That’s when society turned its attention to something called the “waste hierarchy.” This is the order of priority of actions to be taken to reduce the amount of waste generated and to improve overall waste management processes and programs. The new Three Rs became Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and it’s a guidance to create a sustainable life.

Reducing means choosing to use things with care to reduce the amount of waste generated. Reusing involves the repeated use of items or parts of items that still have usable aspects. Recycling means the use of waste itself as a resource. Waste minimization can be achieved in an efficient way by focusing primarily on the first of the 3Rs, “reduce,” followed by “reuse” and then “recycle.”

For more than a century, Goodwill has stood as an entrepreneurial leader, environmental pioneer, and social innovator of The Three Rs.

If you follow this concept, you can add another R — renewal. Your donated goods to Goodwill Central Coast have the power to make a difference in people’s lives through education and employment opportunities, strengthen communities and create a healthier environment.

Goodwill’s founder Rev. Edgar J. Helms once wrote: “Goodwill Industries is organized to save material waste and turn it into human well-being.” Repurposing and reselling material goods not only provides Goodwill with a revenue stream to support our mission, it makes us responsible environmental stewards — a role we take very seriously.

We’ve noticed over the years that you’re right there with us, recognizing the important benefits of practicing the Three Rs:

  • Reduce: The most efficient way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Production of new products only happens when there is high demand. If we reduce the demand, we save lots of materials and energy required during production. So ask yourself: Do I really need to buy something brand new?
  • Reuse: Get second-hand furniture and clothes. You are doing everyone a huge favor by choosing gently-used items. Check out the merchandise at Goodwill Central Coast stores, though, and you might even find a designer gem at a great price.
  • Repurpose: With a bit of creativity, someone else’s “junk” can turn into a useful and cool treasure. Read further for some unique ideas on how to transform second-hand items into savvy storage options.

For the kitchen

  • Clear off counters by hanging wicker baskets under upper cabinets to store fresh produce.
  • Store frequently used cooking items such as oil, vinegar, and seasonings in a flat basket on the counter.
  • Use chalk paint to label mason jar lids for spices, seeds, or nuts. Store upright in a drawer.

For the bathroom

  • Use a vertical spice rack to serve as a compact wall cabinet for your lotion, makeup, or skincare products.
  • Scatter decorative baskets or glass containers on the bathroom counter, or intermix with a few picture frames.
  • Find a vintage vase to store toiletry items.

For the kids’ room

  • Turn a wooden bookshelf on its side and insert crates for toy storage. Place pillows on top for extra seating.
  • Turn fabric cubes into book storage and extra seating. Create instant shelving with wooden boxes attached to walls. Paint or wallpaper them for a fun visual effect.

Finally, the ultimate storage hack: reduce! When you have less to store, you need less storage.

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