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?

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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.

Note: freecycling is not Freecycle

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Freecycling

Photo credit: allisonallison

Ok, maybe that title is a little confusing. Let me expand.

Freecycle is freecycling but freecycling is not Freecycle.

It can be quite frustrating when it seems that the media industry appears to believe that the two are one in the same thing.  Often talking about the freecycling movement but only directing people to Freecycle.  There are dozens of other useful sites around the globe.  I admit that Freecycle may be one of the better know ones, but could that be because that’s all people normally hear about.

OK I know I may be biased about ours (http://www.anygoodtoyou.com) but there are quite a few others and if you search on sites such as AlternativeTo.net and SimilarSiteSearch.com you can find lots of alternatives, likewise if you look up freecycling on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freecycling you can see that Freecycle is only one such service.

Now obviously we are going to shamelessly plug AnyGoodToYou.com (this is after our blog) but to ensure we are not doing the same thing I am highlighting above, here are a  few of the others sites  (please note we are not endorsing or recommending the following sites,  just showing alternatives exist)

So to sum up and refer back to my original point…

Freecycle is a method of freecycing

freecycling is far more than just Freecycle.

 If you have more sites you would like to share with people, feel free to comment here or why not join our freecycling community over on Google+, we have a section dedicated to freecycling sites.

Consumer Society

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The modern world has changed, no longer do the values of ‘make do and mend’ seem to be the norm.  We have moved into a consumer society, with a throw away culture.

Companies constantly push their latest and greatest product, wanting us to upgrade.

Take the humble television as just one example.  Until only few years ago, lots of people were using TV sets that were a decade or more old.  TV sets hadn’t changed that much since the advent of colour TV in the late 60s and wide screen in the late 90s.

In the last decade however it feels like most electronic equipment is out of date before you have even unpacked it.  A standard widescreen TV purchased in 2002 would have been obsoleted  by the push to upgrade ready for digital, then to HD, later to Full HD, and then to buy a 3D HD TV and now after the Consumer electronics Show in Las Vegas they are starting to promote Ultra HD (4K) TVs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology (I’m secretly a bit of a geek, well actually not so secretly), but not at the expense of the planet.  I have a HD TV but not because the marketeers won, it was simply that our old TV broke down and it was not longer economical to get it repaired.  I have a smart phone but I have upgrade cycles measured in years and normally dictated by the fact I can no longer use the device for one reason or another.

When you can no longer resist the allure of the new thing from your favourite company what do you do with the old one? It probably hasn’t got much residual value in this fast moving consumer society, but its also not broken and it’s way too good to just throw away.

Why not give it away? Many people are happy to have the last years mobile phones, or are perhaps happy to use an older TV in a bedroom etc.  Students who are just starting out on their own are also often very grateful for such gifts, allowing them to complete their studies with a lower debt burden (I know I was when studying)

This was one of the reasons we started AnyGoodToYou.com , to give people a hassle free way to find new homes for these items, and at the same time reduce waste, reduce impact on natural resources and improve the lives of others along the way.

Please help us spread the word, it’s as simple as sharing this blog post with family, friends & colleagues or post a like to it on your favourite social network and together we can help to build a better world.

Reuse, it’s not just personal…

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I was out shopping the other day and it suddenly struck me, that many stores have short lived promotional material and displays that probably just get thrown away or shoved in the back of a storeroom and forgotten about after use.  Things like the large poster boards which are linked to clothing seasons and brands, stands used to promote computer games etc.  Then I started to think about all the companies that buy promo materials, and end up with things like half a box of mugs, pens, key rings or whatever sat in the office store room or under desks left over after a campaign is finished.

I realised if we could get these companies to offer some of these items through the site I am sure there are lots of people including artists, community projects, schools, upcyclers and collectors around that would love some of it.

I know one community project I used to work with that was always happy to collect random free mugs as it meant they could spend the small amount of money they had on other things.

It can also be things that you wouldn’t think of, our allotment society took a delivery of a batch of bathtubs that had been damaged in transit and the company couldn’t sell them.  We have one that we use to grow blueberries as they don’t like our soil.

If you work for a company that could make use of the site please help save the environment and list your surplus items or if know someone else who might be interested please pass on our details and we will do our very best to help you find new homes for you unwanted items.

Together we can help the environment and reduce landfill.  It might even reduce your companies waste fees and save someone else money, which is a great bonus.  You can also support the idea by sharing a link to this post on social networks.

Time for a New Year Declutter

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I thought it would be nice to start 2012 a little differently, so I asked Rachel Papworth from Green and Tidy if she would be willing to write our first post for the new year, which she has so kindly done.  So, enough from me, over to Rachel.

– – –

Rachel Papworth

Rachel Papworth

I’m Rachel Papworth.  Through Green and Tidy, I help people who have way too much stuff, to declutter and create home they love, homes that support them to live the lives they want.

A large part of my motivation for decluttering and organising is how essential it is to minimising your environmental impact.

When you regularly declutter and organise, you keep stuff in circulation, rather than hoarding and storing it. So other people use it rather than buying new.

You consume less because you don’t buy stuff to replace what you can’t find, stuff you’ve forgotten you’ve got or stuff that’s got damaged or broken because it wasn’t stored carefully. You’re not constantly knocking things off piles of clutter.

You need less space because you’ve got less stuff.

So I’m a massive fan of sites like AnyGoodToYou, which help people to find new users for the stuff they no longer want or need.

If you’re a regular user of the site, you probably list your unwanted furniture, clothing, books, games and CDs on AnyGoodToYou without a second thought.

But are you still sending stuff to landfill that could find a new lease of life through the site?

Here are some things you might not have thought to offer:

  • Corks from wine bottles – people make them into cork boards.
  • Food – whether it’s a glut from your allotment, the chocolates you want out of your house now that Christmas is over, those herbal teas you never liked, or bags of pulses you know you’ll never get round to using. Don’t worry about best before dates (though it’s best to compost anything that’s gone past a ‘use by’ date).
  • Broken jewellery – popular among craft types, who remake it.
  • Jam jars – taken by people who make their own jams and chutneys.
  • Opened cosmetics and toiletries – lots of people are happy to take them even though they’ve been opened.
  • Empty shuttlecock tubes – useful for posting documents.
  • Out of date newspapers/magazines – I pick up a neighbour’s newspaper when she’s finished with it. I don’t mind reading it a day or so late.
  • Empty yoghurt pots – gardeners use them for sprouting seeds and protecting seedlings.
  • Used padded envelopes – they can be used over and over again. Why buy new?
  • Packing peanuts/wotsits etc – popular with ebay sellers.

Do you pass on/have you passed on any unusual items through AnyGoodToYou?

I am sure that you will all join me in thanking Rachel for taking the time over Christmas to write this post, some good advice, why not let us know in the comments what you think, add your own ideas of things that people could be listing or answer Rachel’s question about unusual items you have listed.

You can also receive a free decluttering masterclass plus regular hints, tips and inspirational stories, by  joining the Green and Tidy community here.

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