Here’s why ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is important

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a very common phrase these days. I am thankful that most students can recite the 3 R’s before I even begin my program in their classroom. What most don’t know is that the phrase is worded in order of importance.

It is most important to reduce the amount of trash we generate. When shopping for consumable products, we should look at the container those items are being sold in. Ask yourself, “When I am done with this, how much trash will it create? Is the container reusable or recyclable?” If the answers to those questions create large amounts of waste, don’t buy those items. Figure out another way to fulfill your needs and generate less trash. This mentality ensures that the local landfill will last even longer.

Reuse, is the second-most important way to be good environmental stewards. There are many local reuse programs available to actively participate in this waste-reduction method. Every time you hold a garage sale or donate something to Goodwill, Sans Souci or the Orphan Grain Train, you are participating in the reuse cycle. Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District offers the following reuse programs:

Landfill Reuse Center: Remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Our Landfill Reuse Center is open to the public 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. This reuse opportunity is open to businesses and residents of Bartholomew County free of charge. The site is limited to one visit per day and one large item for donation per day. We accept items including building materials, appliances/electronics, housewares, furniture, recreational, office and more. All we ask is these items are in reusable condition, not excessively worn. Exclusions include refrigerant containing appliances, tires, mattresses, medication, firearms/ammunition and household hazardous waste.

Recycling Center Reuse Cart: Almost every garage or storage unit has a half a bottle of something they just will never end up using. Donate that bottle and let someone else put it to use or take a gander and you might find that half of bottle of what you need. The Reuse Cart is brought out as part of our Tox-A-Way/Household Hazardous Waste program. The reuse opportunity is limited to household hazardous waste that is in good condition to be reused. For example paints, varnishes, stains, household cleaners and brush killer would be included if in reusable condition and original containers so we can identify the contents.

Little Red School House and Little Red School House Too: We have two teacher reuse areas that are open to all teachers/educators in Bartholomew County. Our aim is to provide reusable materials to classrooms though residential, commercial and community donations. Educators of all types, including formal teachers, community leaders and non-formal educators, may use these facilities free-of-charge. Donations are always welcome from any community group or individual; areas of interest include classroom supplies, furniture and craft supplies. Little Red School House is located at the Recycling Center and open 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Little Red School House Too is located at the landfill and open from 8-10 a.m. the first and third Saturdays of each month.

Recycle is the third most important word in the 3 R’s phrase. Some may wonder why it is so far down on the list. The reason is because it takes money, time and energy to recycle items. Recycling saves tons of space in the landfill. But if we did a better job at reducing waste, and reusing everything that can be reused, there would be very few items that would be left to be recycled.

For more information, visit our website at To keep up to date on our current events visit our Facebook page by searching for Bartholomew County Solid Waste.