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.

 

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.

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.

How are we different to Freecycle or Freegle?

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A few people have asked about this over the last few weeks, so I thought it might be a good idea to try and explain a little about how we are different from some of the other sites such as Freecycle and Freegle etc.

Instant Access

Firstly, you dont need to be a member to view what is currently on offer via the site, if you see something you are interested in or you want to list something, you can join in just a few minutes, you don’t have to wait for anyone to activate your account etc. either, when you sign up to AGTY, you will get an automated email with a link to validate your account, it’s that simple.

Simplicity

Some of you will suffer from a similar problem to us I am sure.  Where we live, we don’t have one Freecycle or Freegle groups which covers us, we live between groups, meaning we need to subscribe to several to cover our ‘area’, this has the unfortunate side effect of flooding our in-boxes with listings from a wide geographic area which we couldn’t really justify travelling to. The AGTY solution to this, don’t split things up by town or district. We offer one site with one signup with the aim of saving the one planet that we all share.  You can specify how far from your location you are willing to travel and we will show you the things which are in that area.  If you are visiting friends, you can just change your area whilst you are away and will see everything around you, no need to search for a new group, no need to signup or unsubscribe when you return home, just change your location again.  This applies when you move home too, which leads me to my next  point nicely…

Reputation

Because you are not changing from one group to another, if you move house for example, your reputation on the site stays with you.  People in the community will be able to see that you have been with us for a long time etc.

Clearer Inbox

You don’t get an inbox full of stuff your not interested in, or as many would call it ‘spam’.  With many of the area groups on Freecycle and Freegle everythings arrives in your inbox.  We try to make our listings available to you in as many ways as possible, but in ways that leave you in control.  The primary way to access listings at the moment is via our website.  We also have XML feeds (known as RSS feeds in some apps) which you can subscribe to, there are many appplications to access these and many modern email applications allow you to subscribe to them too and you can choose which categories you want details from.  We are constantly looking for other ways to make our listings available and will keep you up-to-date on new ways here and on the site.

What’s gone, what’s not.

Unlike the email group based sites, you don’t have to hunt through your email to see if something has gone or not.  Because our listings are managed by the site, when you visit one you will see straight away if it is still offered or gone.

The AGTY way

We know that some people have had problems with moderators on other sites, we are in the process of building our ‘Community Moderators’ section of the site at the moment, which will be different to our staff moderator system.  A community moderator wont see who the listing is from (which means they can’t be biased against any specific user), they will also be seen by two moderators before going live to reduce the chance of  ‘spam’ listings making it through to you.

I hope this goes some way to answering the questions people have been asking,  if not or you have feedback you can let us know using the Contact Us details from the site.

Regards

The AGTY Team

Join us free at AnyGoodToYou.com

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Join Any Good To You

Next time you are thinking about throwing something away, or if you are planning to list something on Freecycle or Freegle, why not give AnyGoodToYou.com a try and post a free advert for your item.  You might even get you thing listed as a featured item on our front page, not to mention the fact that we often promote listed items on various social media site such as Twitter and Facebook.   So what is your next step?  Signup, list your item and do your bit to help Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

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