What are the 7 Rs of Zero Waste?

Posted by Teghan Acres on

We’ve all heard of the 3 Rs, right? “Reduce, reuse, recycle” were drilled into our brains from pre-K until now. I know I had them memorized by about 7 years old and felt quite proud of myself for putting my juice box into the blue bin each day. 

But the problem with the 3 Rs is that one of them inevitably gets the most attention – recycling. While reduce and reuse come first, recycling has found its way into the spotlight and the other two are left in the shadows. It’s time to widen that spotlight and expand our thinking on waste reduction. 

Here at Tradle, we talk a lot about zero waste (or more accurately ‘low waste’ since zero waste is a pretty hard target to hit). The thing is, we can’t get to zero waste with only the principles of the 3 Rs. A few more big ideas have to come into play for waste to become a thing of the past. 

The keyword there is play. We want to make learning about these concepts and living them actually fun! Eco-friendly living can feel daunting and inaccessible a lot of the time. That’s why we’re going to break these ideas down into bite-sized chunks so that you can integrate new practices over time and improve your and your family’s lives in the process.   

So, let us introduce the 7 Rs of zero waste:  


Refusing is the practice of saying no to unnecessary consumption and unwanted clutter. This can actually improve your mental health in many ways (more to come on this later).  


As one of the original Rs, we should all be familiar with this one! Reduce means to lower your consumption of nonessential items and live as lightly as possible for you. 


Reuse is pretty self-explanatory – make sure you’re not always consuming single-use items! Replace items that may have once been single-use with reusables – lunch boxes, water bottles, soap dispensers... the possibilities are endless. 


Reimagine definitely wasn’t part of the original Rs. This is a unique Tradle addition that means to explore our relationship to things, how we consume and what abundance means in our lives. Let’s reimagining what is waste and what is just wasted. 


Repair is a concept that has been phased out in our lifetimes through planned obsolescence which means technologies are designed to be easily broken rather than easily repaired. We have a blog called “It’s Time for a Repair Revolution” which might give you a hint as to how passionate we are about this topic. 


Recycling is an obvious inclusion. While it’s not perfect, it is a fantastic concept that many of our partners are embracing to create new clothing from old. 


“Back to nature” is my Mom’s favourite saying when something has expired in the back of the fridge. Rot is exactly that idea. Rot means to compost, biodegrade or decompose which are all-natural nature-led disposal methods that allow our “waste” to contribute back to ecosystems.  

We will be diving into these ideas one week and one concept at a time over our next seven newsletters. We want these pieces to answer your questions and expand your thinking. Got any lingering question marks around zero waste concepts? Wondering how these ideas might show up in your life or your community? Let us know and we will go on this journey of discovery together.

Circular Economy recycle reduce refuse reimagine repair reuse rot Zero Waste

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