Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Which ONE would you choose?

Today, while reading Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart (, I was reminded of a conversation I had with one of my esteemed colleagues, Sam Chen – Anatomy & Physiology Professor Extraordinaire, just before last semester ended. Sam asked me to choose the best one to do: reduce, reuse or recycle. I thought for a moment and settled on reduce. Sam asked why. I explained that I chose that one because it makes a decreased need for the other two (reuse and recycle). In the end, reducing leaves less of an impact on our natural resources and on the earth.   Sam agreed.

In chapter 2 of Cradle to Cradle, titled Why Being “Less Bad” Is No Good, there is a section headed The Four R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – and Regulate. It addressed the same conversation that Sam and I had and the authors agreed with my answer to Sam’s question, but also added that most important fourth R, which is not often confronted in the U.S. Read the book to find out more! It is well worth your time, entertaining, and quick enough as it is only a mere 192 pages.

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