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BellaOnline's Living Simply Editor

The Simple R's of Living Simply

Reduce, reuse, recycle, renew, return - a guide to more ecological shopping. Ask yourself these questions every time you shop, whether in the mall, or online.

1. Recycle - Is this made from recycled materials? Can it be recycled when I am done with it? can it be composted? Or can I give it to a charity like Goodwill when I am done with it?

2. Reduce - Can I buy this item with less packaging - or even with no packaging - from somewhere else? Can I buy it in bulk, or in a condensed or powdered form (as with laundry detergent, for example)?

3. Reuse - Can I buy this used? Look into thrift stores, on Craigslist.org or on eBay. Along these lines, often a solid wood antique dresser will cost less money and give you an appreciating asset in the long run, than will buying from Pottery Barn.

4. Renew - Can I fix my old item? Leather repair shops can fix your quality leather jackets, purses and shoes.

5. Retail - Is this business worth supporting? Do they have green principles? Do they practice fair trade? Do they donate profits to charity? Can I buy this locally instead?

6. Right Product - Is this a quality item that I can use, repair and enjoy for a long time? Or is this made to be disposed of? Along these lines, you have permission to buy a high quality, expensive item (like a Coach Handbag) if you will care for it properly and use it until it falls to pieces.

7. Really - As in, "do I really need this?" Maybe you are just bored and are using shopping as a pick-me-up. Remember that every new thing you own will require its own care and storage.

8. Return - If you do decide to buy something, save your receipt. Once you go home, you can always return the product if you experience "buyer's remorse" later. Don't toss anything into the trash if you can help it - at least if the product is returned, someone else might buy the item, maybe on clearance, and that keeps it out of the landfill.

The Three R's: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle (What Do You Know About? Books)

Kangaroom Recycle Bags, Set of 2

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