Save Money and be Green at Home: Guide to the Three R’s of the Environment

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycling are what we all call the three R’s of the environment. Use our guide to three R’s of the environment to save money and be green at home. You can reduce what you're using and buying to save yourself money, reuse certain items rather than throw them away, and earn money by recycling and collecting deposits from the objects you recycle.

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UPDATED: Nov 23, 2021

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Written By: Laura D. AdamsReviewed By: Laura WalkerUPDATED: Nov 23, 2021Fact Checked

Saving the environment can save you money as well. There are many ways you can reduce, reuse, and recycle at home, both for a healthier planet as well as a fuller wallet. Get the whole family involved and it will become a part of the daily routine in your home. It can even become fun!

What are the Three Rs?

The three Rs are reduce, reuse, and recycle. These are the basic principles to follow for limiting the amount of waste we produce at home. We can also apply them at school and in the office.


The concept of reducing is simple. If we purchase fewer items, we will have less items that will later become waste. Ways to reduce can include purchasing food with less packaging, avoiding the purchase of disposable items, and simply living a more practical lifestyle with less stuff.

Some ways to reduce include:

  • Purchasing durable items that will last
  • Avoiding using paper plates and cups
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins
  • Send emails instead of letters


Don’t throw away old or broken items. See if you can use them for another purpose. Old chipped cups may end up making excellent pots for plants, an old table might be repurposed into a desk, and the material of old clothing can be used in a variety of projects.

Some other ideas for reusing include:

  • Use old jars to store loose items
  • Repurpose old wood as firewood or include it in projects
  • Use newspaper to fill up empty space in boxes and make their contents safe for shipping

You can also make sure that your items get another chance in a new home by giving them away or donating them.


If you have reduced and reused, but you still have something left to get rid of at the end, the next step is to recycle it. When you send bottles, cardboard, and other items off to be recycled, the material is broken down, refined, and reshaped so that brand new items can be made. Most items contain materials that can be recycled.

Commonly recycled items include:

  • Most plastics
  • Glass
  • Metal cans
  • Paper
  • Cardboard

More complex items, such as electronics, can often be recycled as well. Check with your local recycling center to see what they accept.

When doing your shopping, make sure that the containers of any items you purchase are recyclable to help with your three Rs at home.


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Saving Money

Thinking twice before you buy something is the first step to saving money. If you do not really need to make a purchase, you are already saving money if you decide to skip it instead.

Reducing food waste in your home is also a great way to save money. Americans often waste up to forty percent of the food we buy. The money spent on food that is not eaten can add up quickly. Avoid food waste by buying in bulk, sticking to a shopping list, getting creative with leftovers, and storing food properly.

Instead of buying new clothes or bags, turn old clothing into sewing projects either to revive a piece of clothing or to make it into something new.

In addition, instead of having to buy new furniture for a new space, consider converting something you already have.


Earning Money

There is more to just saving money; you can also earn some back through recycling.

Recycle bottles and cans to collect the deposits. The amount earned for the return of an empty can or bottle varies by state, with some paying as much as ten cents per recycled beverage container.

There are other items that can earn you a little money. Most major office supply stores will buy your empty ink cartridges for cash or store credit. Scrap metal also has a value, with many recycling centers paying for the items by weight.

Trade-in opportunities, such as the one provided by Amazon, may help you to get rid of old mobile phones while earning a stack of gift cards.

You can even turn in your old car battery for around ten dollars at some major automotive parts stores.


More Ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

There are additional ways to reduce the waste produced by your home:

  • Use reusable grocery bags when shopping to avoid using disposable bags.
  • Create art using materials that would have been thrown away or recycled.
  • Make sure to recycle everything you can. Don’t forget that even light bulbs can be recycled.
  • Make gifts instead of buying them at a store.


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Having Fun

There is actually fun to be had with the three Rs. Get creative, enjoy a game, or even sing a song.

Arts and Crafts

There are plenty of arts and crafts ideas that are based on reusing and repurposing materials that would otherwise be discarded. Turn an old soda bottle into a piggy bank. Form old bottle caps into a new vase. Use an egg carton to make a caterpillar.

The possibilities are endless.

Kids Games

Games are a great way for kids to learn about recycling while having fun.

  • Have a scavenger hunt that focuses on recycled items.
  • Make recycling into a competition with rewards for the best recyclers.
  • Create parade banners and outfits from recycled material and then have a parade.


There are actually quite a few songs dedicated to teaching kids about the three Rs of recycling. Check out YouTube as well as the resources below or make your own catchy tune.


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Laura Adams is one of the nation’s leading finance, insurance, and small business authorities. As an award-winning author, spokesperson, and host of the top-rated Money Girl podcast since 2008, millions of readers, listeners, and loyal fans benefit from her practical advice. As a professional accountant and financial analyst for several companies, Laura is a trusted source on various financ...

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Written by Laura D. Adams
Insurance & Finance Analyst Laura D. Adams

Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent Laura Walker

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