Reduce, reuse, recycle – most of us will be familiar with this mantra urging us to consider our impact on the environment and create a positive change in the world.
Yet, it can sometimes seem overwhelming. The amount of information given to us about how to better live our lives with less waste is immense.
At Save Energy 2 Day, we get behind the saying that it is better for many people to be imperfectly striving towards zero waste than it is for few people to be perfectly zero waste. If everyone makes little changes, it will add up to a big difference.
It is nice to see local councils taking up this mantle too. We found this leaflet at a Leicestershire school where we recently had a meeting.
Imagine if we all popped our plastic bottles into the recycling bin instead of the waste bin. How many lightbulbs could we power? How many towns and cities could we light up?
There is a reason that the first word in the three R’s is ‘reduce’. It’s because the most impactful thing you can do is reduce what you use.
Think about it: if you are not using something in the first place then you will not have a need to reuse it or recycle.
Going zero waste isn’t a new concept. Back in the 1970s groups around the UK were setting up what they termed ‘permaculture’. It is a term used to describe permanent culture, that everything we do has a natural cycle without the need for waste.
We don’t need to suddenly change how we live to start working towards zero waste. We just need to make some small changes.
One of those changes is using low-energy LED lighting, which has a longer lifespan than halogen or fluorescent bulbs.
Things you can do to reduce what you use:
- Offer a lift to someone going to the same place as you so that you can reduce the number of cars being used
- Take out a bottle or coffee cup when you leave the house so you don’t need to buy bottled water or use a takeaway cup
- Buy local where you can, to help reduce air and road miles.
If we start looking at how we can reuse our things, we will create less waste. Can we send old clothes and books to second-hand shops? Is there someone we know who can make better use of some of the kitchen appliances that sit collecting dust in the cupboard?
Our habits have already changed over the past few years as we start carrying reusable bags, bottles and coffee cups.
Before we put our junk in the recycling bin or waste bin, is there another use we could find for it?
Things you can do to re-use what you have:
- Make planters from leftover yogurt pots
- Use cleaned food containers for food storage or packed lunches
- Old socks make great dusters.
Over the past 20 years, we have really embraced recycling and made it as easy as throwing something in the bin. The more we think about our waste, we see more ways we can recycle rather than dump waste. Changes in how we think about our rubbish have changed dramatically but is there still more that we can do?
Things we can do to recycle more:
- Donate old books and clothes to second-hand shops
- Compost our food waste or use the contents of our tea bags on our small plants
- Offer our broken appliances for parts on freecycle or to a local repair cafe.
More of an impact can be made with small, simple changes done by many people than large sweeping changes done by a few. We think of this as being imperfectly zero waste. When we add an extra way of reducing our environmental impact into our everyday lives, it becomes part of the routine and eventually, we don’t notice the thought or effort we once had to put into it.
Like the famous supermarket tagline: every little helps.