Analyzing Everyday Rhetoric: The language of reduce, reuse, recycle

The boyfriend pointed out something the other day which really stuck with me. He observed that although the standard line is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, of late the slogan seems to have evolved and dropped the first two parts.

reduce reuse recycle

These days, you hear a lot about recycling. Manufacturers are coming out with new items which are “environmentally friendly.” Instead of reducing and reusing, we are taught to consume! more! stuff! and focus more on the recycling aspect. Apparently it’s okay for us to consume a lot of products, as long as we recycle it.

Does anyone ever talk about reducing and reusing anymore? When did they fall out of our daily rhetoric? It’s concerning that there’s been this slow change which seems to have phased out the reducing and reusing parts of recycling. Words are powerful: if we remove the words from the slogan, we begin to forget about them, and we concentrate only on what’s left: recycling. Which would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact that as a society we are in desperate need of reducing and reusing as well as recycling.

Are the reduce and reuse parts simply implied these days, and that’s why they’ve dropped off of the slogan? Or is it because we as a society have realized that we aren’t willing to give up our habit of consuming, so we decided to focus more on recycling rather than reducing and reusing?

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