Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Four Rs

One of many rituals in our household is the daily reading aloud of Dear Abby, along with other columns in the "agony aunts" genre, otherwise known as advice columns. On May 13, the lead article was along fairly typical lines, relating to marital infidelity, as was the second, about a strained maternal relationship. It was the third letter -- about trash -- that really piqued our interest.

Pam is a bit of a simple-living guru and I am an environmental geographer, so the question about what to do with the debris from online shopping was clearly the most interesting of the three letters that day. I immediately fired off a response. (True confession: I write a lot of letters, so when the Dear Abby staffer called a couple weeks ago to say my letter would be published, I could not honestly remember what I had written about; I was haunting the site after midnight this morning to find out!)

Abby had rightly suggested some ways to reuse the boxes and joked that the landfill would be the alternative. I took the opportunity to mention all four Rs -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Repair -- and suggested that the first of these would be most appropriate. I am very pleased that Dear Abby chose to publish my suggestion today, along with several other letters about reuse options.

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