What can be achieved

I noticed an article about the Strauss family in the Metro the other day. They have managed to reduce the amount of rubbish they throw away over a 12 month period to a single carrier bag. It seems like they’re quite committed as they were in the news the same time last year for the same reason.

Not everyone has the available land, appropriate facilities or a forward-thinking council to compost their food waste but doing simple things like taking your own bags with you to the shops, reusing things instead of throwing them away or recycling whenever possible should be things that every family can and must do.

Recycle less

Yes, you read that correctly: I said recycle less.

At first glance you’d think that I’d turned my back on my usual green practices but you’d be wrong. When you start thinking about things throughout their lifecycle you start to realise that recycling should be your last resort.

I suggest expanding the basic green three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recyle) to a full mantra along the lines of:

Initially reduce your consumption and then reduce what you throw away; reuse what you can then – and only then – should you recycle.

Producing recycled paper requires about 60 percent of the energy used to make paper from virgin wood pulp1 – but nevertheless, recycling still requires energy. On average, every family in the UK uses around 330 glass bottles and jars each year2. Recycling one bottle can save enough energy to power your television for 20 minutes but instead, why not try reusing bottles and jars to store homemade jams, pickles, preserves, beers or wines?

1 EPA, 2008
2 British Glass