Do more for the planet at this time by starting the 3Rs at home

Published July 30, 2020, 2:30 AM

by Johannes Chua

Now is the right opportunity for Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling

After quarantine for a few months now, a lot of people have realized the importance of a cleaner environment and for a more sustainable planet. 

There is also the realization that “survival” is not only about having a stable job, steady income, and hefty savings. Survival—in its rawest sense—means having a life skill that can put food on the table, make the house function efficiently, and ensure the wellbeing and security of every household member.

If there’s a form of “survival” that a lot of people have forgotten, it is the 3Rs—reducing, reusing, and recycling. The 3Rs, considered the cornerstone of environmentalism, is “thrown in the wind” in a capitalist market driven by consumption and more consumption. But in these interesting times when scarcity beckons on everyone’s doors, it is perhaps the right moment to start the 3Rs at home.

In her book, An A-Z Guide for a Green Pinoy, environment advocate Annie P. Guerrero wrote the importance of 3Rs, especially in challenging times in history. 

“Growing up in the years after the war, I was taught to recycle things. Curtains morphed into table cloths and aprons, clothes were handed down sister to sister or brother to brother, oil containers became sprinklers. We were simply and sensibly making the most of everything, since various resources were scarce after the war,” she said.

Now, as we endure a different kind of “war,” Guerrero’s words all the more makes sense. So how does one start the 3Rs at home? It is not too late though. This pandemic will surely end, but may this moment become the start of your family’s sustainable journey for the planet. 

Here are a few recommended steps from Guerrero’s book on how to implement the 3Rs at your home during this pandemic season.


1) Buy less stuff, even second-hand items

Most of what we throw away could be useful to other people. During the quarantine, check if you have any unused items which you can give out or donate to charities as soon as restrictions to go out is lifted.  

2) Refuse packaging if possible.

Every time we go shopping, we are offered over-packaged items. Even buying stuff or food during the quarantine, don’t forget to bring your own reusable shopping bag. 

Remember to always bring your own reusable shopping bag

3) Buy local and support the community producers.

The quarantine has allowed homeowners to assess what’s essential and this has directed them to look for food and goods producers based in the community. There’s no need to shop online for items coming from abroad, there are a lot of local producers that one can help in this challenging time. 

4) Purchase items in bulk.

If you have the funds, as much as possible, buy your food in bulk not only to save on costs, but also to cut down on waste. A lot of villages, condos, and neighborhoods show the bayanihan spirit by pooling resources for everyone’s benefit.  


1) Make eating at home a sustainable experience.

Use washable cloth napkins instead of paper, a stainless steel thermos instead of juice boxes or water plastic bottles, steel cutlery instead of plastic ones. Doing all this on a daily basis (not just during this quarantine) reduces deforestation and toxins, and your household incurs less wastage in the long run. 

2) Use sustainable food containers.

Store leftovers or other food items in containers instead of throwing them out. If there’s one good thing that this quarantine has made each family realize, it is the importance of storing food for a long time. 

Use sustainable food containers such as bottles to store food items and condiments

3) Repair or refurbish furniture.

Give furniture a new lease on life instead of just throwing them out mindlessly. There are a lot of ways to repurpose furniture with some carpentry hacks.  

4) Reuse papers and envelopes.

Each household receives mail from various utility providers. Don’t just throw the envelope as the white space can be used for writing down notes or reminders. 


1) Get creative with your jars and bottles.

Finished with that mayonnaise jar or bottle of wine? Don’t just throw them away. Jars can be turned into art craft projects for the kids, while wine bottles can become design elements or as part of lighting fixtures. 

2) Be practical with paper.

For non-essential documents, you can purchase and print on recycled papers. Don’t forget to print on both sides of the paper. Don’t throw them once you are finished as you can bring them to a neighborhood recycling center. A trivia: By recycling one ton of paper, you can save 17 trees, almost 7,000 gallons of water, and more than two cubic meters of landfill space.

3) Crush that can.

You have brought a lot of softdrink and juice cans to drink at the start of quarantine season. Now, the empty cans are piling up. Start by rinsing the cans. Collect and crush these cans to reduce their size. After the quarantine, make sure to bring them to the nearest junk shop. 

4) Put plastic on a new light.

Plastic is part of life and sometimes one can’t avoid it. For example, for a plastic water bottle, you can recycle this to become an upcycled bottle craft. Or if you want to start a green project, you can use the plastic water bottle in a variety of ways to make your garden more manageable. Add to that, if you don’t have a low-flow toilet, you can add a plastic bottle (filled with water) so that your tank can offset excess water flow.

Use plastic bottles to start your urban gardening project