Last week I provided you with a brief overview of the “three R’s” of sustainability: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Today I’m going to talk about the first “R”: Reduce.
When we talk about “reducing,” we generally talk about decreasing resource use at the source. Planting native species is one of the most impactful ways to reduce resource use. Since native plants are adapted to the local soil and climate, they require less irrigation and fertilizer than non-native plants. Native planting projects that replace lawns, such as meadows and prairies, further “reduce” because they need to be mowed far less frequently than turf grasses, cutting down on the amount of gasoline or diesel used for mowing.
Many projects require the use of equipment such as tractors, seed drills, mowers and power tools. Your team can further “reduce” its impact in regards to these tools by renting instead of buying when practical, reducing the amount of resources used in the production of additional machinery. You should also maintain your existing pieces of equipment to make them last longer, again reducing resource use by decreasing the amount of machinery produced.
You can also “reduce” as part of your outreach and education projects. If you choose to provide refreshments during volunteer events, for example, you could try to buy snacks and drinks in a way that uses less packaging and is overall less resource-intensive. Replace individual juice and water bottles with jugs or coolers, and encourage participants to bring their own reusable water bottles. You can also try to find more locally-sourced snacks that did not have to travel as far to get to your event.