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We often think of recycling as sorting cans, bottles and glass out. But it’s so much more than that. Recycling is so great because it is renewable and therefore allows things to last much longer than they would normally.

I think that a lot of people assume that because we can recycle, it means that they can buy more single-use products. This is not the case! Did you know that “only 9% of plastic produced since the 1950s has been recycled?” – Global Recycling Day. That’s bad!

Related post: 5 devastating facts about our oceans

So, what can you do to help?

Well, there are lots of things. It’s important to remember that although it may seem small, you are making a difference.

Litter pick

You don’t need to organise a big litter pick or register with a charity, just walk outside and start picking. I was going to say that you could go to your local park or beach if you’re lucky enough to live on the coast, but the sad truth is that you’ll probably see some on the way. One thing I would advise is to wear gloves, especially now because we are in a pandemic! Once you have finished, remember to sort out the litter into the correct recycling bins.

Girl smiling holding up a bag of litter.
A beach cleaning selfie!

Reuse wrapping paper

We have quite a build-up of wrapping paper from over the years. At the time of purchasing it, we probably didn’t realise there was plastic hidden inside. But it would be far more wasteful of us to just throw it out. Instead, we should continue to wrap presents with it but open them carefully so they can get reused. You can also do this with bows & string.

Save scraps of paper

This one might seem very simple but I use to put paper in the bin that I had only used one side of. Now if there is some paper that I’ve used both sides of, I will tear around it. I recently learnt that it’s extremely hard to recycle sticky notes, so while I’ve got a few pads left, I’m trying to get into the habit of using scrap paper.

Related post: Where to recycle items in the UK by Emma Reed

Buy recycled products

While sometimes you can’t help but buy stuff, try to get it recycled. For example, most stationery shops sell recycled file paper. I love this! Your paper isn’t completely white but that doesn’t really matter, and it’s cool to know that it was something else first. Along with this, so many more greeting cards are made from sustainable forests. My favourite cards will always be the plantable ones I sent to my relatives for Christmas – check them out here. Eco pen ranges are coming out too! I’ve bought recycled highlighters* which I left in Bournemouth so didn’t get much of a chance to use ☹️ But I did see an eco-friendly range WH Smith’s shop window.

Choose second hand

I’ve said it lots of times before, but if you haven’t already, you should check out Depop! It’s an app that lets you buy/sell items. I think that it was originally meant for selling/buying clothes but there’s books, jewellery & so much more. So many of my favourite clothes have come from there because you can be really specific when searching. If you find something you want, I would advise looking through what other products they are selling because most people do bundles so you can save on shipping.

Buying second hand isn’t just about clothes. My favourite second-hand shops are charity shops! I have so much fun going in and finding little gems. That is definitely (apart from people) what I have missed most during the pandemic. Especially the book sections. I love looking through all the books because they have a great selection, are cheap and most importantly, the money goes to charity. I find it very hard going into a charity shop and not coming out with anything…especially if there’s a board game section.

Return your empties

A lot of shops now have a system where you can return your empty product bottles and in return, you will get points/money off. I first saw this in The Body Shop where (I think) you return 5 empty bottles and get a £5 voucher. I know many people would return their empties without a reward, but I think it’s a great incentive! Plus, you save money. As well as The Body Shop, I know that H&M, Boots and Lush have this kind of thing.

Buy refillable products

I would love to be one of those people who goes to a refill store to get their food. Once I’ve used the last of my products in plastic, I’m hoping to do this. Luckily in Bournemouth, there are lots of refill shops about & I know that some supermarkets are starting to get refill stations too. I’m not entirely sure how it works, but I think you should check the quantities of products they sell so that you can get your containers accordingly.

If you don’t have a food refill store near you, you could look into getting other refillable products. For example, my sister bought me a refillable mascara* for Christmas last year! Yes, it is obviously going to be more expensive than a drugstore mascara, but it’s a much higher quality. This one is vegan, cruelty-free & 100% natural!

Do you do any of the above already? Let me known in the comments ♻

Best wishes, Cx

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  1. This is an excellent list. I try to do all of these things. Recycling is so important but I first try to reduce and reuse with recycling as a last resort.

    1. Thank you! I agree 🙂

  2. We can all definitely do our bit to recycle and I would love to do a beach clean up! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

    1. Beach cleans are so rewarding <3

  3. This was such a great list! Refillable products and compostable are such a great switch! I still need to buy second hand for clothes, but barely have bought any during the last year, so hoping i can keep it up! Thanks for sharing x

    1. Thank you! That’s so good of you x

  4. These are brilliant suggestions, and perfectly demonstrate how easy it can be to make a positive impact. Hopefully sustainable ideas really take hold, but perhaps that’s optimistic

    1. Thank you! Sadly true

  5. This post was so good! I love that you are spreading so much awareness! x

    1. Thank you, that means so much to me xx

  6. filippellia says:

    These are great tips, thank you for sharing! I’ve been trying really hard lately to be more environmentally conscious. I’ve always wanted to go out in my neighbourhood and pick up garage. Helps the planet!

    1. I’m so glad 🙂 x

  7. Great list! Thanks for sharing. I’m always big on upcycling old items, even buying things second hand and making them into something new!

    1. Love that! 🙂

  8. These are all great! I always make sure to be as little wasteful as I can, recycling and picking up any trash I come across x

    1. That’s really good of you 🙂 x

  9. These are great actions to take! I really miss looking around all the charity shops too. I love buying second hand furniture from them and then doing them up or making something cool from it. x

    1. Such a cool idea, I love watching videos of people doing that! x

  10. Great blog post! (& really love the overall theme of your blog!). I definitely try and do most of these things – my partner and I have done a few litter picks locally and hope to set up a local group when the pandemic is over 🙂

    1. Aw thank you! Love that, I’m going to start one with my coursemates 🙂

  11. Currently I try to use refillable cups and containers. They truly do help the environment. These are awesome tips on how to help our environment.

    1. Thank you x

  12. Isa A says:

    Epic ending Caroline!! Loved the mascara part. Also my environment knowledge is a bit less so I did learn a few things from here and guess would continue to check up on ur work. Refillable stores and mascaras. I didn’t know about sticky notes not recycling that is sooo strange!!! Haven’t heard about pens. And Love second hand books. <3
    Isa A. Blogger

    1. Thank you for the comment! Means so much that you’re learning new things 🙂 x

  13. I try to do my bit to help the environment, my TV stand and the table I’m building is made out of repurposed wood. I also use a metal water bottle for tap water. However, our local government doesn’t do recycling for our building type, which really grinds my gears

    1. Love that! It’s so frustrating when the government doesn’t see the importance of environmentally friendly practices 🙁

  14. I really want to do a litter pick at some point this year. Its so sad seeing so much rubbish stuck in bushes or left on the ground.

    1. It’s so worth it x

  15. I’ve really gotten into to refillables lately and it makes such a difference! I’d love to do a litter pick at some point too – I’ve gone for a few runs lately and the amount of litter in the flower displays etc is just awful! xx

    1. It’s truly disgusting 🙁

  16. nortoncharity says:

    These are all such great simple actions to take for this day. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks! x

  17. I love all of these tips! I’m obsessed with Depop and I’ve started to be a lot more savvy with reusing items and taking more notice on how much waste I’m creating – great post lovely x

    1. Yay, I’m glad 🙂 x

  18. lynnmumbingmejia says:

    Love this! I have been making a lot of eco-friendly changes in my life for the past few years. Purchasing second hand is a big one as well as green cleaning products. Thank you for sharing xx

    Lynn | http://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

    1. That’s great to hear! x

  19. Good deed, Wonderful. I am happy to follow you, and would be more than happy if you do the same for me

      1. Most welcome

  20. If we all made a small contribution, it would make a big difference! I love this list and the do-able ways we can help the environment. Reusing wrapping paper is such a good idea! My sister has started to make tote bags from scrap material to gift presents, which I love as the tote bags are so nice, and I can use them for shopping.

    I buy second hand but wasn’t sure about Depop, so a recommendation from you does put my mind at ease. Is it easy to use?

    You speak to my soul about missing Charity shops; I miss roaming around and finding hidden gems.

    I do wish more shops had refill stations, especially because you could get the weight you want for a specific reason. My mum recently found a place to refill her soap, nothing big, but it will save so much plastic over the year.

    Another great blog post; thank you for sharing. 😊

  21. loveemblogger says:

    These are such amazing tips. I am really passionate about helping the planet, and you’ve included some really great tips. I love second hand shopping. It doesn’t completely solve the problem, but maybe it will give us a bit longer to find a solution. I am also trying to organise a few litter picks in the local area, especially as it’s near a river and it’s terrible to see all of the plastic in there!

    Em x

    1. So lovely to hear that you’re organising a litter pick! xx

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  26. This is a fantastic list Caroline! I’m also trying to cut back on my post it’s and have been using my Rocketbook to make quick notes and then erasing it once they’re done as opposed to throwing away papers. Thanks for sharing this great list.

    1. Love the idea x

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