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The 5 R's of Sustainability

Aug 12, 2019

At Zennify we have started an initiative called ZennEarth. ZennEarth's mission is to empower individuals to support and promote sustainability initiatives both in the office and at home. This is the first of many blog posts where our very own Gabe Wonders will share Zennify's sustainability initiatives as well as actions we are taking at home.


Getting started

Cutting waste is quite simple and can be applied both at home and work by following these five easy steps. Refuse what you don't need, reduce what you need, reuse what you cannot consume, recycle what you cannot refuse and rot the rest.


First, we must refuse

Think back to a conference, career fair or an organized event you recently attended; do you recall a lot of free products being given away? Pens, notebooks, t-shirts, backpacks, reusable tote bags. Although we already have these, we get excited when we see free items and end up taking them home where they will likely spend their lives gathering dust. Every bit of swag we take creates demand for more and continues to feed wasteful practices. It may seem difficult to refuse at first. You may think by not accepting these freebies you are being rude but all it takes is practice. A simple "No, thank you" is usually sufficient.


Reduce what we do need and cannot refuse

Let go of anything that is unnecessary. Gabe and his family recently organized all of their clothes. After piling every item of clothing onto the bed they were shocked with how much clothes they had. Through this process they were able to donate half of the clothes and donate the now empty dressers.


At Zennify we are reducing by only ordering equipment that we need. Instead of having a stockpile of office equipment in a storage room that may or may not ever be used we simply take requests from employees as they need something.


Reuse as much as possible

Reusing minimizing thoughtless consumerism, conserves resources and decreases demand for repeat consumption.


At our offices we have been practicing reusing by swapping disposables for reusables. Such as single use plastic cutlery for silverware, red solo cups for glasses, single use paper plates and bowls for reusable plates and bowls.


At home, Gabe's family has replaced all of their paper products, with the exception of toilet paper, with reusable options. They now use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, handkerchiefs instead of tissues, and rags made of old t-shirts instead of paper towels.


Recycle only what we cannot refuse, reduce or reuse

By following the first three R’s you will minimize the amount you recycle and reduce your reliance on the greatly impacted recycling market. Many recyclables are being diverted to landfills or stockpiled because there is no market demand to process them.


Although it is a form of disposal, when it is absolutely necessary, recycling is a better option than sending an item to the landfill.


Instead of recycling glass jars our household reuses them to store food, to fill up in the bulk aisle at our grocery store and to fill up with soap at our local refillery.


In our Zennify Sacramento, California office we have created signs to help people make sense of what can and cannot be recycled. Our Zennify Meridian, Idaho office has it more difficult. The current office building does not offer recycling so our employees volunteer to take our office recycling bins home to add to their curbside bins.


Rot the rest

Rotting is the process of composting, which is simply the recycling of organic materials. Food waste is the most common material found in U.S. landfills.


Composting is a free and easy way to curb food waste. If you google composting, you may be overwhelmed by people speaking about obtaining the perfect ratio of nitrogen and carbon, but composting isn't rocket science. Getting started doesn't necessarily require any special equipment.


At home, Gabe has an outdoor bin where they throw all of their food scraps and yard waste. The result is a free fertilizer for the vegetable garden, shrubs and trees. If you have absolutely no use for your compost when its ready simply post it on a site like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. In no time someone will be knocking on your door ready to pick it up. So jump in and try, even if you don't have a clue. You'll soon see what works and what doesn't. And best of all, you'll be diverting more away from landfills.


Follow along with us to learn how being more sustainable can benefit your finances, health, save you more time as well as reduce pollution and encourage conservation.