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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Written by Jo Cooke-Best


Posted on July 06 2020

Day 6 of our Plastic Free July is all about passing on a powerful message to you - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! 

For the unknowing you may assume that simply recycling is enough to make an impact on the environment. I hate to give you this news but its not, infact as you will see it is surprisingly low in the hierachy of waste reduction.

There are various different versions of the waste hierarchy but I have chosen to use a clear pyramid graph to keep things basic. 


I guess it goes without saying, the most productive way to reduce waste is to not produce it in the first place! 

Look at buying fewer products, buy products with less packaging or none at all, write a meal plan to ensure that you do not have excessive food waste. Buy one shampoo instead of two. Take your own shopping bags so you are not purchasing unwanted carriers. Take a travel water bottle with you so that you don't purchase plastic bottles of water. Carry silicone straws with you. The list goes on! There are so many alternatives out there, by simply changing your habits and adjusting your methods to ones more considerate for the environment you can make significant changes, and quick! 


In 'the olden days' people were taught to reuse things, to use them until they are in such disrepair that they can no longer be used, to pass things on and to shop in charity (thrift or second hand) shops. These days society has become more of a 'throw away' society... Use things once or twice and then bin it. Social media platforms showing off people with their sparkly new products, giving the impression that you need to always buy new has made this awkward for younger generations to feel comfortable with reusing ‘old’ items.

So, I ask you to rethink. Can you keep using your items for longer? Can you sell them as preloved? Can you shop from preloved places? Can you upcycle things into something else? With such sites as eBay, Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and multiple groups online there are endless ways of upcycling products. 

Let me tell you something you may not know… I shop smart and have done for many years. Yes, admittedly I like my branded clothes, and to be fair, who doesn’t?! But I don’t like to encourage the big retailers to keep making more products. So, I shop for nearly new, or previously brought and new (not used) products on sites such as eBay. I don't like waste; I don't like just throwing things away and I think everything deserves a home! Even big purchases can be of good quality preloved items! My wedding ring, and wedding dress (well, the first one that I purchased. Unfortunately, it was damaged at the dry cleaners and I had to buy a last-minute emergency one), were both purchased second hand!  


The cupboard door has fallen off, what do you do? Buy a new one or learn how to fix it? This modern, 'throw away' society has been teaching people that we simply discard things and purchase a replacement, taking away the need to be able to manually fix something yourself. I can certainly say that having met some of these youngsters, there is most definitely a proportion that no longer know how to fix things! 

Let’s put this out there. If it's already broke, why not have a go and try to fix it anyway? You can read, get DIY handbooks or you could look to platforms like YouTube for some how2 videos. There is a world full of information out there, you just must make the conscious decision to go and look for it. 


Did you think that recycling would be as low was level 4? 

Now, whilst it is amazing that you recycle your household waste each week, we have to be aware that in order for factories to produce this waste into new products they need to use lots of energy. Plants & factories have come a long way and there are some who are powered by natural energy such as wind, sun, and water, but they can be few and far between. 

Therefore, it is further down the line that you would expect. When you are buying your meat trays, veggies or plastic noodle pots consider the fact that you will unlikely be able to upcycle it yourself so it will need to be recycled. If you continue trying to reduce the waste in the first place, then you can reduce the amount of recycling you send with your household waste. 

Obviously, don't let this deter you! If use products, then recycling the packaging as much as possible is better than simply sending the plastics to landfill where they are going to stay for the next 400-forever years!  


Recovery aka “waste for energy”. The clue is in the name.

Keeping this simple, waste can be is transformed into energy through a range of processes including incineration (burning waste to create electricity), anaerobic digestion (microorganisms break down food and other organic waste to produce biogas) and landfill gas recovery (collecting the methane given off by landfill). Thus, using the waste to create free energy, "waste for energy".

The downside to using waste for energy is that the materials can no longer be used again. To make this energy again then you would need more waste, not discounting the toxins produced from incineration! 


Last, but not least, we come to disposal. This refers to the rubbish that we produce in our households each week. Did you know that a large amount of the rubbish that we send to landfill actually goes on a ship to countries such as China? We are rapidly running out of landfill space here in the UK. I certainly do not think that we are a country that has a huge problem with its waste, but if we cannot control and dispose of all our waste, imagine what those other countries are like!  Elsewhere in the world, rubbish is left untreated, harmful gases are not contained and toxins can seep into the groundwater. Waste disposal is quite literally rubbish!!


So, what do you think we should do about it? Do you already make a conscious effort to control your waste? Could you do more? Do you know about our Plastic Free July Challenge? My challenge to you is have a think about the waste that you and your household are producing. Have a look at where you sit in the hierarchy ladder and see if you can change your daily habits and lifestyle to raise up the ladder. 

Take care!
Jo xXx


To help you implement the changes I would like to offer you a special discount code for use valid for ALL of July - Plastic3July. This will give you 20% off your order, with no minimum order value. Do consider carbon emissions, instead of placing lots of little orders, it would be better to place one complete order when you are ready. 

Take care!
Jo xXx

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Enjoy the challenge! 
Jojo xXx

About the author

Jo is an entrepreneur, writer, and investigator for all things healthy for the mind, body, soul, and planet. And, not to dismiss, a long-term collector of allergies, intolerances, and chronic illnesses! In early 2020, after a stark realisation that her health was being impacted by her current direction in business, she redirected her career, using years of personal research and development to launch Ecological Footprints. A lifestyle brand for the whole family (furry kids included), selling a wonderful selection of plastic free, biodegradable daily living products, a food shop full of gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan foods, and a safe place for us all to explore her blog - her journey into eco-friendly sustainability, clean living to maintain health & chronic illnesses and yummy free-from recipies for all the family. When she's not working you can find her spending time with her family, enjoying the countryside or in her little organic veggie garden! 



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