At a glance
There are three easy ways to cut down your waste that can make a big difference to the amount that ends up in landfill. These are known as the 'Three Rs'—reduce, re-use and recycle.
By thinking about what you really need and refusing what you don't, giving items more than one life and disposing of rubbish thoughtfully, you can reduce waste and show others that you value our resources and the environment
Many of the problems created by waste can be addressed by reducing the amount of waste we produce in the first place. Reducing waste includes rethinking what you buy and refusing things you don't need.
There are many ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce:
- Reduce your use of single-use and disposable products where possible and choose alternatives which can be used again. For example, instead of buying bottled water on the run, take a bottle with you from home.
- Opt for products with minimal packaging where possible.
- Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging you collect. This can also save you money.
- Choose concentrated products or refillable containers.
- Refuse plastic bags when you don't need them. Keep re-usable bags handy so you remember to take them to the shops. You can also use boxes or your own shopping trolley bag on wheels.
- When you're buying fruit and vegetables, pop them straight into your trolley rather than plastic bags.
- Save on plastic wraps and freezer bags in kitchen by using re-usable containers as much as possible.
- If you don't read advertising mail, put a sign on your letterbox.
- Plan your meals to use items before they go out of date. Compost your food scraps or use them in a worm farm.
- When building or renovating, build only what you need and think carefully about your design. Good design can make existing space more usable or comfortable. Choose durable materials and finishes as they should last longer.
It's amazing how many things can have a second or even third life. If you can't re-use something, there may be someone else who can.
Repairing household items instead of replacing them can be a great way to reduce waste and save money. You might also be helping keep local specialist services like repairers and refurbishers in business.
You might find innovative ways to re-use old bags, containers, building materials, clothing and unwanted things.
Choose well made durable items. These products may cost a little more but their lifespan will be longer. When you re-use items you've bought they become more cost-effective. Not only do you save money, you'll also prevent those materials being discarded as waste. You'll also help reduce the amount of energy used to manufacture new products.
Here are some simple ways to re-use items:
- Give unwanted clothes, household items, furniture or appliances to family or friends, or donate them to charities.
- Washed takeaway containers make good stackable containers for frozen food.
- Wash glass jars and use them again to store food or things like buttons and nails. You can also give glass jars to friends or groups who make jams.
- Use small plastic bags to wrap wet and smelly rubbish or to pick up after your pet.
- See whether your trash could be treasure for someone else. For example, if your food scraps are going in the bin, there might be a gardener or someone with chickens who wants your organic waste.
- If you're building or renovating, consider using recycled materials such as windows or floorboards—you can save money and add character at the same time.
When you buy recycled products, you're saving resources and reducing the impacts of pollution.
When disposing of products make sure only the items accepted for recycling go in your recycling bin. These usually include glass, hard plastics, aluminium and steel, paper, cardboard and milk or juice cartons. There might be restrictions in your local area on what can be recycled so check with your local council. Your council will also be able to tell you if you should wash the recyclables before they go in the bin.
See if appliances and furniture can be repaired instead of replaced. Charities and specialist repair services might want your broken goods to turn into recycled products.
- Find out what drop-off and recycling facilities are available in your local area. Contact your local council - they may collect other items for recycling, including mobile phones and printer cartridges.
- Contact your local council to find out what e-waste recycling services they offer for larger electronic and electrical products.
- If you have hazardous household waste or building material waste check with your local council for safe ways to dispose of these.
- Look for products that use recycled materials or are recyclable. This way you'll know that you're helping to keep useful materials and metals out of landfill.
- Recycle unwanted plastic bags at your supermarket, or give them to charity stores who may use them.