Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: International Day of Recycling

May 17th is the International Day for Recycling. It’s an important day to be environmentally aware and recall the strategy of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

It’s amazing that some people still can’t be bothered to recycle or don’t believe it’s worth doing. It’s also ridiculous that we produce so much that can’t be recycled, or that plastic bags are still even made at all! Forget 5p/5c a bag, why can’t we just stop making them?

Recycling, as in the vast amounts of plastic, paper and other material that gets shipped to recycling plants has come under intense scrutiny over the last few years, due to the amount of energy it takes to recycle.  Yes, there are downsides, but surely it’s better to recycle than to simply shove it all in landfill or dump it out in the ocean somewhere?

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Ultimately we should be looking for ways to create less recycling in the first place – by reducing the amount of plastic and other solid materials we buy and consume; and by re-using as much as we can to avoid sending truck loads of recycling off to expensive plants every fortnight. So recycling comes last.

Easy Ways to Reduce the amount of solid you produce:

  • Say no to plastic packaging: Buy loose fruit and vegetables
  • Get meat from the counter, not the pre-packed shelves
  • Bulk buy pastas, grains, cereals and any other consumables you can
  • Buy large bottles of juice instead of cartons and small packs – or juice your own!
  • Use packaging-free lunchboxes and reusable drinks containers – say no to drinks pouches
  • Use glass over plastic – you can re-use glass jars and bottles for all sorts of other things.
  • Compost as much as you can

Ideas for Reuse:  

  • Non-recyclable plastic can be shredded to make cushion fillers.
  • Plastic bags can be woven into colourful shopping bags and even the cushion covers themselves – great for outdoors.
  • Plastic pots are great for growing seeds and using as plant pots.
  • Plastic bottles are great containers for all sorts of things around the home.

To recycle or not to recycle? That is the question!  

There’s so much that can be recycled, but sadly a lot that can’t. If in doubt, check the bottom of the packaging label.  Here are some things that can’t be recycled:

  • Plastic or wax-lined or coated cartons. Don’t recycle soiled cardboard/paper food containers, e.g. pizza boxes
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic trays and meat containers
  • Random bits of plastic, plastic film, bubble wrap etc
  • Polystyrene/Styrofoam
  • Foil – containers and wrap
  • Paper tissues, serviettes and kitchen roll

So first, try not to use or buy products in packaging that can’t be recycled. Next, try to think of inventive ways to reuse recyclable and non-recyclable waste.  If you have to recycle, do it responsibly and don’t forget to make sure you rinse tubs, jars, bottles and any plastic containers for cosmetics and skincare before you pop them in the recycling bin.

We can all make a massive difference to world waste, and the less we produce, the better it will be for everyone.


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