The Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
We all know that the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – are key to cutting down on waste, carbon emissions and environmental damage. These are all relatively easy to manage and in fact, can be quite creative, if you just take a moment to think before you bin!
The three Rs are a waste management pecking order to help create a sustainable life. By incorporating these principles into your lifestyle, you will help reduce the waste that goes into landfill and minimise your carbon footprint. Try refusing to buy items you don’t need, reusing items more than once or for a different purpose, and drop items you no longer use into charity shops or recycling bins… it’s easier than you think!
We’ve put together a few ideas on the three Rs to help you do your bit for our planet.
As we’re in the bag business, we’ll start with – use a ‘bag for life’. These are bigger than your standard carrier bag for when you’re doing your food shopping. Make sure to fill it with product as efficiently as possible so as to reduce the amount of bags you need for your weekly shop. If you’re out enjoying a little retail therapy at the weekend, think twice as the assistant is serving you as to whether you really need another bag, or if you can fit your purchase in one you already have (this will also make it look like you bought fewer items, resulting in less shopper-induced guilt!).
Buy products that don’t have a lot of packaging or those wrapped in packaging that doesn’t require huge resources and energy to produce.
Start a compost bin to dispose of vegetable peelings and plant waste. Over time the waste will break down through the natural process of decomposition to create compost which is good for the soil.
In the office or at home only print out what you need; everything else is a waste of paper. Going paperless with things like your utility bills can help cut down on your paper usage too, and likely save you a little bit of money from your provider.
Buy concentrated products or those sold in refill packs such as detergents, fabric conditioner, and herbs and spices.
Choose a multi-purpose cleaner rather than lots of different cleaning products for different purposes.
Save energy by turning off lights that you are not using.
Avoid using disposable plates, spoons, glasses, cups and napkins – a little washing up never hurt anyone!
Choose products that can use mains power rather than batteries, using rechargeable batteries where you can. Buy solar-powered items such as pocket calculators and watches.
Again, we’ll start with carrier bags. You all probably have many ways of reusing your carrier bags to prolong their life, rather than dropping them straight into the bin. It can be to carry your lunch to work, or to put your gym kit in for later. If you’re transporting something valuable, have a root around the kitchen for one of those ‘bags for life’ we discussed earlier and really get your money’s worth out of it!
When you can’t reuse your carrier bags any more, use them as bin liners.
If you need your coffee fix in the mornings, buy a reusable coffee cup! Did you know that only one in every 400 coffee cups are actually being recycled and that we are binning around 2.5 billion takeaway cups a year? Buying your own from somewhere like Keepcup means you have your own stylish, reusable cup that simply needs popping in your bag each day – and some coffee shops will even give you discount when you use one too!
Use plastic containers or thermal lunch bags when packing the kids’ lunches, rather than single use bags.
Shoe boxes, ice cream cartons, and other types of containers that are often tossed in the bin can be used to store all sorts of things in the kitchen, the garage or the garden shed. They can also become robots, castles and other creative fun art & craft masterpieces!
Don’t throw out clothes, toys, furniture, and other things that you don’t want anymore. Take them to a charity shop or a car-boot sale – somebody else can probably use them.
Keep your scrap paper for the kids to draw on, shopping lists, or other notes.
If you have green fingers, yoghurt pots and egg boxes are ideal for growing seedlings.
Swap magazines with friends, or give them to surgeries or hospitals for waiting rooms.
Back to bags! Here at The Printed Bag Shop, a large percentage of the printed carrier bags we sell are made from recycled or recyclable materials like Kraft Paper and Bio Polythene.
Buy products that are made from recycled materials. Toilet rolls and kitchen rolls are the first things that come to mind, but did you know that our favourite winter essential, the fleece jacket, is made from recycled plastic drinks bottles? It is estimated it takes around 25 recycled bottles to make just one fleece jacket. The plastic bottles are melted down and the liquid plastic is then forced through tiny holes. As the plastic cools it makes tiny threads which are then woven, knitted and stitched together in the same way you would work with wool.
Most households across the UK now have a comprehensive recycling process in place, with more wheelie bins scattered across our drives than we can count, but not everyone is recycling as efficiently as they could be.
Key things to remember are try and sort through your rubbish as you go, keep all the bins close together so you can get rid of everything at once, and inform everyone in the house of what the system is so they can all do their bit. For an overall guide on how to recycle everything from electrical items to garden waste, check out recyclenow.com.
When shopping, select products that come in packaging that can be recycled.
If you’re a gardener, look for products that are made from recycled materials like plant pots, paper liners for hanging baskets, or containers and garden furniture made from recycled plastic.
Use recycled paper for printing or paper craftwork.
Whether it’s in the home or at school; in the office, the shop or any other workplace; it is our responsibility to adopt the three R’s principle into our day-to-day lives if we want protect the environment and create a sustainable life for future generations.
What reduce, reuse, or recycling changes are you making today?