What Happened to the Three Rs?

Prairie Gleanings

Somewhere along the line, we lost our minds when it comes to environmentalism.

Published on: January 20, 2011
Remember the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ad campaign? It seems like these PSAs started showing up at my school in the 1990s.

Despite the campaign’s common sense approach to environmentalism, today folks rarely mention the three Rs. Instead, we’ve substituted them for one word: sustainability.

During the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association’s Annual Convention, The Fertilizer Institute’s Laura Moody pointed out that sustainability has three pillars: economic, environmental and social. It seems like a good portion of activists forget about that economic part of sustainability.

At that very same meeting, Cliff Snyder, with the International Plant Nutrition Institute, made the point that he’s an environmentalist. He went on to say that all farmers and custom applicators should consider themselves as such.

All of this rhetoric points to something sinister going on in the world today. Folks stopped using common sense when it came to environmentalism, and they started getting crazy.

There’s the opinion that if you’re not completely off the grid, with absolutely no trace of a carbon footprint, then you’re not concerned about the environment. If we’re not talking about the crazy tree-huggers living in a tree house and composting their own excrement, then we’re consumed with stories about Hollywood stars driving fleets of Prius vehicles. (Not even stopping to think how many charter private jets from New York to Los Angeles each week.)

In the midst of all this, we forgot about those three simple Rs. In Googling the three Rs, I learned that they are arranged in order of importance. That’s right, reduce is top on the list. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

At my household, we try to make simple decisions every day that are good for the environment and our bottom line. For example, we eat all of our leftovers. Nothing bugs me more than having to throw away perfectly good food. Rather than heading out to a restaurant that locally sources its own meat and vegetables, doesn’t it make better sense for the environment to eat the meatloaf from Monday?

We keep our thermostat down around 69 degrees F during the day. It means we have to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt in the house, but it saves money.

Also, we don’t trade cars every two years. Unlike a lot of Americans, we buy a car, then drive it until we feel it’s no longer reliable. Seems to me, this makes more sense than trading in a Prius for an Insight every other year.

I’ll bet a lot of you subscribe to this same logic. It’s a cost-effective, efficient way of living. Don’t let the media or activists fool you. Just because you’re not driving out to a suburban, organic-only farmers market, it doesn’t mean you’re not concerned about the environment.

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