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Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

Why Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle?


Waste reduction means cutting down on the amount of waste, or cutting the toxicity of waste BEFORE it is generated.  Each year approximately 230 million tons of municipal solid waste (garbage) is generated in the United States and this equates to an average of 4.6 pounds of garbage each day per person (Source: EPA). Therefore, the number one consumer behavioral change necessary to save natural resources, save money, and lessen landfill disposal is to REDUCE. Here are some ways you can reduce your consumption:


Reuse is accomplished when a product is used more than once for any one purpose. Here are some ways to REUSE:


Instead of tossing your waste in a garbage can, consider whether it can be put in a recycling container. In 2005, recycling diverted 79 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators (EPA,http://www.epa.gov/msw/reduce.htm). Although significant amounts of resources are recycled yearly, our present day consumer culture for bottled water and other disposable conveniences such as plastic grocery bags and disposable coffee cups result in unnecessary waste of valuable resources. According to the American Chemistry Council, almost 75.7 percent of plastic bottles purchased in the United States are lost to landfill deposition and only 24.3 percent are recycled  However, the percentage of plastics bottles recycled in 2005 resulted in 2.1 billion pounds of petroleum based resources captured and reused to make other consumer goods (americanchemistry.com). For every ton of plastic bottles recycled, almost 3.8 barrels of oil are saved (americanchemistry.com)

Recycling plastics and other materials such as paper, and aluminum, create new products such as:

When actions are taken to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, many things are accomplished:


Institute of Environmental Sustainability
Loyola University Chicago · 1032 W. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660 · Phone: 773-508-2130 · IES@luc.edu

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