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How to Reduce Our Waste

By: Kelly Fenn - Updated: 18 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
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Households in the UK produce enough waste to fill the Albert Hall in London every two hours; every person in Britain throws out the equivalent of their own body weight in rubbish every seven weeks; around 60% of what we throw away could be recycled; 434 tonnes of rubbish in total reaches a landfill site each year - the list of damning statistics relating to our nation's rubbish habits goes on and on! So how do we start to reduce the staggering amount of waste we produce and throw away?

Well, it's easier than you might imagine. Taking a smart approach to what we buy, how we consume daily items and how often we choose to throw things in the dustbin can have a significant impact on how much waste you produce. Here are some sensible questions you should be asking on a day to day basis that will help you and your family start to reduce your waste.

1. Do I Need This?

The throw away society we live in these days thrives on people's need to have the newest, biggest and brightest consumer items - be it the latest mobile phone, an HD television, the newest computer console. But bear in mind that throwing away a perfectly functioning item simply because it's not brand new is inherently wrong, and a real waste of resources. Ask yourself if it is really necessary for you to make that purchase - if it helps, consider how you could use that money on something else that's also better for you: an enjoyable day out for the all the family, perhaps?

2. Can I Re-use This?

Before you throw something away, stop and think about whether it could be used again, or if it could perform a different but useful function. Sometimes it can take a little imagination, but get the kids involved and ask for their ideas too! To give you some inspiration, here are a few ways to re use different items:

  • Cut old clothes up to use as cleaning cloths
  • Re-use old carrier bags when you go to the supermarket
  • Old boots make great plant pots!
  • Choose reusable items rather than throwaway ones i.e. razors
  • Choose refillable cleaning products and perfume bottles

3. Can I Recycle This?

Some items you can't use again, of course - which is where recycling comes in. Recycling is a process which takes used items and makes them useful again. Consult your local council on what materials they're able to recycle: there's probably more than you realise, including plastics and electrical items. Once you separate recyclable materials from non recyclable items, you'll soon see the difference in how much you need to throw away each week.

4. Could Someone Else Benefit From This?

If you can't use an item, or no longer want it, don't reach straight for the rubbish bin. Think about whether someone else could benefit from it - someone's waste is another's gold. There are several ways you can do this. Take old clothes and bric-a-brac items that are still in good condition to your local charity shop - they'll be happy to accept them.

Alternatively, try your local Freecycle group. These work by offering your items for free to other members, who in turn may have something of use for you. You could even sell your item on an online auction website such as eBay. Making a profit out of your would-be rubbish is surely a good reason not to throw it away.

5. Should I Make The Greener Choice?

The answer should be yes! Whenever we buy or consume an item, there's nearly always a greener, more eco-friendly option that you should be bearing in mind. This can be as simple as choosing loose vegetables rather than pre packaged ones, bringing your own bags rather than having to use more plastic bags at the supermarket, or going for an item that uses natural or recycled materials, so has had minimal impact on the environment during its production.

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Excellent! Helping me revise for urbanization!
RaaaaaaaaaaY - 18-Mar-13 @ 7:40 AM
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