Reduce means lowering are consumption. We live in a materialistic society, and we NEED STUFF -- or so the TV ads make us believe. The only problem with more stuff is more waste. We are also a throw-away society. More often than not, what we buy comes in individual containers, lots of times non-recyclable containers, or is meant to be used and replaced versus repaired.
Reusing means finding ways to use something more than once -- often not for its originally intended purpose. For instance, upcycling a glass tea container into a vase or a toothbrush holder. Ya know, the "do it yourself" type of stuff. Both of these methods of conservation use no or very little energy. Plus they're fun!
Recycling is what you do when you put our paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, etc., in those handy containers that the recycling company collects every other week. While it may seem like a good solution (and it is compared to throwing it in a landfill), it takes energy to recycle these items.
Keeping a "green mind" while shopping means actively thinking about what you're buying. Can the container be reused? Can it be recycled? Does the item come in tons of packaging that isn't necessary? Can it be divided up into other, reusable containers instead of being purchased in individual, nonrecyclable containers? Yes, convenience is a great thing, but throwing that non-recyclable lunch-sized bag of chips in the garbage is worse than dividing up a large bag of chips into sandwich bags that can then be recycled. It takes a little more time and effort, but in the long run, you'll feel better about it!
There is a reason why the order is Reduce, then Reuse, then Recycle. Keeping this in mind, you can easily become a more "green" consumer. Happy shopping!