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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.
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.
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