Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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The waste hierarchy refers to the "3 Rs&q...

People often focus on a single section of the ‘reduce, reuse & recycle’ motto.  However I think it is important that we try to remember it as a whole.  From an energy and resources point of view it can make a big difference. It is also important to try and remember to apply this concept at work, school, college, university etc.

 

It’s also important to remember that in the modern world we all have busy lives and we often need speed and convenience, but I think we can make a difference without having to give up our everyday creature comforts.

 

Reduce

 

Reducing our consumption can have the largest impact on our use of materials and energy.  If we simply don’t  consume something then it obviously never needed resources to produce.

 

Examples

 

  • Napkins and handkerchief – something as simple as switching back to traditional fabric napkins and hankies which can be washed and reused rather than using paper disposable ones. 
  • Reusable Bags – When you are shopping try to take reusable shopping bags with you.  If you really had to take one of the supermarket bags, try to make sure you take it back with you and use it again in the future.
  • If you are doing a one off DIY job, ask friends if you can borrow power tools etc. or hire them rather than buying something that will hardly ever be used.
  • Why buying, try to buy products with as little packaging as possible for example loose apples rather than the shrink wrapped multi-pack where the apples are on a card, plastic or foam tray.
  • Composting – I had trouble deciding if this should go into Reduce or Reuse as it really is a little of both, maybe even all three.  If you compost garden and household organic waste you can reduce your general waste and reduce the amount of store bought compost and fertilisers  you need for your garden.
  • Avoid using single use batteries.  Where possible use rechargeable.  Some modern ones are referred to as ‘low self discharge’ meaning they store better without going flat and are often ready to use from the package without needing to be charged first.  This gives you the convenience of disposable batteries with the added bonus of being reuseable.
  • Its not just when out shopping you can reduce.  Simple things can make a difference too, such as :
    • Only taking one square of kitchen towel, and getting a second or third if needed.
    • Putting full loads in the washing machine or dishwasher means fewer cycles, extending the life of the appliance and reducing the use of energy and water.
    • This article wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention simply turning things off when they are not in use.

Reuse / Upcycling / Freecycling

 

Reuse of an item is great from both a resource and energy point of view, requiring no additional virgin resources to be extracted and often minimal to no energy input. Reuse can also save money and reduce landfill requirements

 

Examples

 

  • Glass Jars – If you buy jam or pickles they normally come in a glass jar, you can refill these with your home made produce after washing and sterilising.  If you can’t make use of them, wash them offer them to a friend or through a freecycling site.  If you have an attractive bottle from something you have used it can be turned into a vase or with a  small purchase of a pouring spout can be reused for cooking oils or cordials.
  • Household electrical & digital devices – These days so many items have a lifespan of 12 months or less before they are deems obsolete, it’s such a shame as many of these devices still perform the task they were designed for perfectly well.   When you are done with something, why not consider offering it to someone else through an online reuse community or offer it to a friend etc. but whatever you do, don’t throw it away or leaving it languishing in a drawer.
  • Spectacles –  Did you know you can donate these to charities, where they get used around the world in places where their availability is limited.  See http://www.vao.org.uk for an example.
  • Printer cartridges – Many brands of ink cartridge can be refilled, often many times over and some manufacturers offer schemes when you can send back your empties.  Local schools and charities also often have schemes in association with local refilling companies as a way of raising fund too.
  • Traditional glass milk bottles are a great example of reuse, now hardly seen having been replaced with plastic or waxed card cartons.  These bottles were collected by the dairy in various ways, sterilised and put back into service.  The energy and resources required to use these bottles again is negligible compared to recycling or new. Once at the end of their life, damaged/broken ones would be recycled.
  • Furniture – Either when moving house or through redecorating a room, we often end up with items of furniture we not longer need.  There are so many ways that these can reused or adapted.
    • Kitchen units from a refit or chests of drawers could be put into a shed or garage for additional storage.
    • Offer them to friends or the community at large through one of the various reuse / freecycling sites.
    • Sell it either via online auctions or local classifieds.
    • Offer them to local charity organisations or shops.
    • As a last resort you could take them to a recycling centre where they can often be broken down to raw materials and recycled.

Recycle

 

Recycling is one area that gets lots of attention, most local authorities now do household recycling collection. You can also take items to recycling points at many retail locations etc. So rather than explain all the different ways you can recycle I thought I would include a few snippets of information about various materials to help guide your future efforts and purchases.

 

Materials

 

Glass

 

  • Glass thrown in to household general waste often ends up in landfill and never decomposes.
  • Glass is classed 100% recyclable, meaning it can be used over and over again.

Metal

 

  • Aluminium and Steel from cans etc. can be recycled and ready be reused in just a few weeks.
  • Recycling aluminium cans saves up to 95% of the energy used to make one from new material.
  • Recycling steel saves up to 75% of the energy when compared to making it from virgin material.

Paper

 

  • Up to 50% less energy is require to recycle paper when compared to using virgin materials from trees.
  • Recycling 1 short ton of paper can save around 17 average trees and around 3 cubic metres of landfill.

Plastics

 

  • Plastics can take several hundred years to decompose.

Links

 

I have included a few links to sites that we use for recycling info from time to time and where some of the facts and figures used in this post were obtained.

 

 

 

If you have more ideas, examples or comments related to this post let us know in the comments below.

 

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Guest Post: Make Do and Mend

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Jen Hello there!

The lovely people at Any Good to You have very kindly let me do a guest post on their blog today!

So who am I?

I am Jen, and I am currently nearly halfway through My Make Do and Mend Year- a year of buying nothing new!

I live in the sunny (?!) South-West of England with my lovely hubby, our 2 gorgeous boys, and 2 slightly irritating cats.

Egg box xmas tree

We embarked upon our mission at the beginning of September last year, and I have to confess that it was largely (all) my idea. Hubby has come round though, and the Smalls are Small enough not to really take too much notice!

The last 6 months have seen us making, making do, mending, thrifting, re-purposing, re-loving… you get the idea.

Monster sick1

And we have had to look at alternative sources for things that we need.

Which brings me on to sharing sites, like Any Good To You.

They are a brilliant resource for us, as it has meant that we have been able to ‘re-home’ things that would otherwise have been thrown away, and we have also been able to clear some of our clutter with a clear conscience as well!

You obviously don’t have to be on a mission like ours to make use of sharing sites. In the current economic climate, they are experiencing a real upsurge in popularity as people seek to save money wherever they can.

car boot coat1

BUT it is not all about money saving. I think sharing sites are principally about re-use. The world does not have an infinite supply of resources to satisfy our seemingly insatiable demands for yet more ‘stuff’. If some of the ‘stuff’ we have accumulated has outlived it’s use to us, then surely it is only right and proper to pass it on to someone else who will give it a good home, and get additional use from it.

The benefits are multiple: the giver gets rid of some stuff with a clear conscience and very little effort; the stuff is saved from landfill (which we are rapidly running out of); the receiver gets what they need, for free, and without having to buy new, therefore saving resources!

Now, that is what I call WIN WIN!!

You can read all about My Make Do and Mend Year in far too much detail on the blog here: www.mymakedoandmendyear.wordpress.com

And you can follow me on Twitter: @makeandmendyear

Thanks for reading!!

What is an item worth?

2 Comments

Hi, For those who don’t know who I am, My name is Allan and I am one of the co-founders here at AnyGoodToYou.  I am a bit of a self confessed geek and have a deep hatred of seeing viable objects being thrown away.  I am also happy to admit that I’m no writer or journalist so you may have to forgive my writing style in the post below.

So on to the topic of my post.

For many years I was an avid collector of what I lovingly called vintage computing equipment (others including some friends referred to this as old computer junk).  Over the years I had built quite a collection.  Some given to me, some purchased, some of it was even current and new when I purchased it, such is the speed of obsolescence in technology.  Over the years I must have spent hundreds if not thousands of pounds, not to mention the hours put into finding, collecting and repairing.

But then one day I realised that my collection was turning into just that, ‘A Collection’ something akin to a museum exhibit, I realised I no longer used any of it, unlike when I first started collecting.  And it occurred to me that an item in and of itself has no real value, the true value of an item is in its use.  I don’t have bookshelves sat there empty because I don’t want to throw them away, I have them because I want to use them to store books.  The ones that I didn’t use I gave away.

So my ‘collection’ was still quite a special thing to me, but I realised that its true value could only be realised by trying to get it back into the hands of people who would use it or share it.  So that was it, decision made.   Now most of it has gone (I still have a few items waiting to be collected), back into the hands of enthusiasts who will make use of it, venues that demonstrate the evolution of computing and vintage computer clubs who give people hands on experience of our technological heritage.

And me, well my collection has gone, there is a small twinge of sadness.  The house is emptier now, but my heart is fuller, knowing that I have returned value to once treasured items, that I have assisted in the preservation of computing history and that I have given a little joy and happiness to others.

These were also the first real sparks of life of our fledgling freecycling community, as much of my collection (and later a substantial chunk of our furniture after merging two households) was offered through it.

So, my point…

If you have things sat in the loft, garage, under stairs cupboard, think about this, what are they truly worth to you in their current locations?  What might they be worth to someone else?

That old games console that never gets played any more, that old mobile phone that you shoved in a drawer when you got your shiny new upgrade, even things like old set of crockery you boxed and put in the loft after you got new ones.  They can all make a difference to someone, and space has value , wouldn’t you rather someone was making use of something you didn’t need/want any more, leaving you more space for the things you do.

So how about digging out some of the stuff you no longer want and offering it to someone who does, return the items value by putting it back into use, and make someone’s life a little better too.

Well that’s it for the time being, time for me to get off my little soap box and hand over to you the reader, comments, feedback etc. can be left in the comments below.

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