Today, we hear the words reduce, reuse, recycle on a daily basis. But how seriously do we actually take them? And how can we encourage more people to instill the “R’s” as a simple habit, rather than a chore?
“By thinking about waste before we generate it, we can collectively have a huge impact on the war on waste. By being conscious of our environmental impact, helps with the choices we make and therefore the consequences of our actions”. (Karen Heron)
Here are practical tips to help you get started and implement a sustainable lifestyle:
Refuse — this sounds easy but often we are bombarded with packaging we don’t want or can’t get away from. However, if we are prepared, then this is so much easier. For example, choosing loose fruit and veg comes almost package free (and often is). Some of the big retailers sell a mesh bag for this purpose which can be reused as often as we remember to bring it with us!
We more than often don’t need the extra carry bag offered as we may have already purchased something which came with a bag. Or even better, using the bag you popped into your handbag or pocket. By refusing, you then don’t have to deal with it. Perfect.
Reduce — large bags of food produce seem like a bargain and it often is, only if all of it is used. Otherwise you are throwing away good food and money because there was too much of it.
Buy only what you need. A planned weekly menu is a great way to help you buy only the items required (and makes for a quick shop). This reduces impulse spending which is often wasteful, especially if produce is forgotten or goes bad before being used.
Reuse — most food packaging containers can be used many times over. I use the large yogurt tubs to freeze stock, homemade dog food and leftovers. Stick a piece of masking tape on the lid for easy labelling. They are great for storing beads, buttons and for planting seedings too.
Repurpose — I love sewing and have restyled many of my clothes (which I no longer loved) and updated them to new items. A baggy shirt that was once fashionable is taken in to begin a new life as a fitted shirt. Long skirts or dresses that were at that awkward length, shortened, jeans that mysteriously shrunk in length, loped off at the hem and now very fashionable with the ends unravelling. The cut-off hems I used to patch our dog’s much loved toy. I had a lot of fun too!
Chipped salad bowls given drainage holes, becomes a useful pot plant holder and old wool or thick string can be knotted macrame style into holding the pot plant. Very stylish!
Recycle — much, but not all of the packaging we face today can be recycled into another life.
I am not a believer in multiple recycling bins as these take space and can seem overwhelming.
Paper waste must be kept clean (from food waste), food waste composted, then all the other dry waste (glass, cans and plastic) can be added together. Recyclable waste is either picked out from your kerb side bins by the informal waste collectors or separated at a Waste Recycling Facility.
Clothes and household items can be recycled easily though friends, family and even at the office as there is always someone who can make use of these items. Hospice gladly takes almost anything and then there are the many centers and charities that collect these items which are sold to raise funds.
Relax — you alone are not going to save the world (even though you want to!). By your actions alone you are changing the people around you. They see you and your passion and it’s hard to not to want to be you, the queen of recycling. Share your knowledge, money saving tips (recycling definitely save you cash) and stay brave in your convictions and hey, you may well save the world!