Recycle, reuse, reduce

Over-consumption and the garbage it creates is a growing problem for today's society. Each year we recycle more, but we also create more garbage. It is a problem we all help to create, but not everybody is on board with also helping with the solution – consume less and reduce, reuse and recycle.

With a little more thought, we can all change our habits so that each one of us throws out less garbage. These small, but worthwhile changes may at first seem inconvenient, but soon they will become second nature.

Reducing Waste


What we consume and the packaging it comes in create a huge amount of waste – over a tonne per household per year! Just 1 kilogram of aluminium generates more than 15 kilograms of greenhouse gas; producing a hundred household bricks generates over 30 kilograms.

Easy first steps to help you reduce wastage


1. Buy products not packaging! Refuse to purchase products that use excessive packaging and materials.

2. Give the flick to one-off use shopping bags. Try to minimise the number of one-off use plastic shopping bags with re-usable shopping bags. And for those times when we just forget, wherever possible, reuse the plastic shopping bags to get as much life out of them before disposing or recycling them.

Ways to make a bigger impact

1. Recycle all material possible. Check with your local council or state environmental authority to find what and where you can recycle. Just recycling paper and containers reduces waste to landfill by up to 27%. There are also collection programs for electronic waste (i.e. old computers, mobile phones and fridges), chemical waste and car batteries.
    a. Get a compost bin or worm farm - Separate composting matter from other rubbish.

2. Buy and use Recycled products
    a. Use sustainable paper products – marked with post-consumer recycled fibre. Or, where products have virgin fibre, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo.
    b. Use recycled timber for building and buy furniture made from recycled timbers. Where products have virgin timber, look for the FSC logo
    c. Buy secondhand rather than new items.
Poster used in campaign to stop discarded plastic St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska, United ... / ©: Kevin Schafer / WWF-Canon
Poster used in campaign to stop discarded plastic St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska, United States of America.
© Kevin Schafer / WWF-Canon

What else can I do to reduce my footprint?

In the longer term you can make your big decisions energy efficient when purchasing such items as vehicles, appliances and a place to live. You can save money as well. For example, switching to solar hot water heating can be a cost-effective way of supplying your hot water as well as reducing a major household source of greenhouse gases.

The future of the planet is in our hands; the future is man-made. Become a Futuremaker and find out more great ways to live sustainably.

Practical ways you can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Reduce
  • Buy products with minimal packaging and recycle any packaging where possible
  • Bulk-buy products with a long shelf-life
  • Avoid individually wrapped items
  • Choose the concentrated or refillable form of products like juices and cleaning products
  • Use a basket, backpack, box or reusable shopping bag instead of plastic bags. Keep them handy in the boot of your car.

Reuse
  • Reuse your plastic bags and look for products that can be reused many times
  • Choose durable and reusable items rather than disposable ones
  • Carry your own water bottle or reuse water bottles.

Recycle


A good recycler both ensures they recycle goods and also considers what they buy and whether the products have recycling capabilities.
  • Buy products made from recycled materials or with recyclable or reusable packaging. Plastic packaging that is marked code 1, 2 or 3 is commonly recycled in most municipalities; several councils now also accept codes 4-7 (check with your local council )
  •   Avoid packaging made of more than one material that can't be separated or put in your waste recycling bin, e.g. plastic laminate on paper.
     
Simply by being conscious of your shopping habits and by trying to be the best recycler you can be you can make a real difference to the environment and the future of our world. Begin today for a cleaner, healthier tomorrow.