Recycling – does it help the environment?

Anything that can be adapted, given new life, new purpose, new form has got to be better for the environment.

We all know the motto – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

The most important bit is first – Reduce.

Reduce being that, reduce your waste intake.  This includes food, non-recyclable materials and recyclable materials.  Surprised? Me too. To make an A4 piece of paper can take around 10 litres of water to create. That’s just paper, not even plastic or metals.  Paper. It is my goal at work this year to go paperless.  Offices are one of the largest consumers of paper products.  With many cloud based software opportunities about, there is really no excuse to use paper at all.

Reducing won’t remove all waste, so we have more options to give our waste new life, remember, even recycling can create waste products and use water resources.  How many times do you wash that can before you put it out for kerbside collection?  How many cans do you have to wash?  This was a big one for me, I thought my canned purchases would be better than plastic, but I am still using water to wash them out before they get washed again at the recycle station.

Reuse – if you can’t reduce what you are purchasing, reuse it! We do this this with our old towels and sheets.  Handy drop cloths, mop cloths, rag cloths, spill cloths, garden ties and some are even turned into blankets. Our favourite reusable purchase are the honey wraps.  We have a small twin pack in our collection, great for half eaten fruit or vegetables that need a cover and a large sized one, this does a water melon and most bowls.  They have a great beeswax smell which doesn’t transfer to the food, even with the cut side pressed against it.  We love them, the only issue I have found is that my hands aren’t always warm enough to mould the cloth.  We will be adding to our collection.  They last a year and can now be found in healthery shops.  We also reuse our dish sponges into pot plants to help with watering and use envelopes for our shopping lists.

Recycle – this can be done in many ways, donating to op shops (which we frequently do for our clothes), posting on Freecycle such as curtains, furniture, appliances, a great source a goods too, or your kerbside recycling.  Each council has different policies, and if your recycling is too large, for example cardboard boxes, be prepared to take them to the recycling station.  Many recycling stations now also have a place to take your polystyrene packaging.  Usually this is turned into insulation for housing or bean bag fillers.

Yes recycling does help the environment.  Less energy is used re-purposing existing material than creating it.  However, it still does have an impact and I think that is the take away for me.



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