Wait, what? Why would I say that? It goes without saying that recycling is not a bad thing at all – it is good, actually excellent and needed. What I mean is that our thought process must start before that! Step one is to RETHINK. We need to REDUCE what we consume. Recycling a plastic bottle is great, but not buying it in the first place is better. Single use plastic is a massive issue and things will only change if we as consumers change our habits. Buying too much is also an issue. Hand on heart: how much food do you throw away every year? To achieve change we as consumers vote every time we buy: We vote with our wallets. Show businesses what you want! Step two is to REUSE. Before buying somethings, is this something you could find second hand? Or is the item you want to replace actually mendable? Before throwing something away, is there another use for it? Donate to charity, or put a box outside your house with free stuff for your neighbours. Check out Freegle, Freecycle or Olio, or list things for free on marketplace on Facebook. Arrange a swap shop with friends! Do you need to buy something, or could you borrow from a friend? Do I need to buy new or could I find it preloved? Is your “trash” someone else’s treasure? Step three is to REFILL. Bring your reusable mug to the café next time and check out your local zero waste shops. There is very little you can’t buy in refill shops now! Shampoo, washing up liquid, lentils or granola….. You name it! Is there a local refill shop close to you? Could you try something new, like a shampoo bar or cleaning cloths that are actually compostable? Step four is REPAIR and REPURPOSE.
We tend to throw things away as soon as they are no longer perfect. The art of repairing is almost lost and this is something we need to get back to. And even if you don’t have the time, knowledge or will to repair, is there someone happy to do so? There are loads of seamstresses around, happy to repair for a small fee, shoes can be mended and there might even be a local repair café close to you!
Step five is to REPLACE. There are fantastic projects like Terracycle, providing a recycling alternative for toothbrushes, but could you start using a bamboo toothbrush instead? Do you use loads of cotton rounds? Well, would you be happy to replace them with reusable makeup pads?
Step six is RECYCLING This is where you look at what is left and recycle what is recyclable. If you look at what you use, go through this list, I think you’ll be surprised with how little there will be left to recycle in the end, never mind what’s left to throw away!