Single use plastics have been filling our landfill sites and oceans for years and it is having a devastating effect on the environment. By getting to know the three Rs of recycling, ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, you can take steps to reduce your own personal plastic footprint. Learn how to use less plastic around your home as well as find out the benefits of recycling plastic.
What is ‘reduce’?
The first “R” is all about using less – less energy, less water, less everything. You can do this by making smart choices in your shopping; particularly when it comes to plastic.
How to use less plastic everyday
Here are a few key ways you can reduce the amount of plastic that you use in and out of your home:
- Swap plastic bags out for a cotton shopper or two.
- Add loose fruit and vegetables to your basket or trolley or take reusable cloth bags with you.
- Buy rice and pasta in bulk.
- Invest in reusable products for your home. These can include:
o Cloth alternatives for nappies, baby wipes, breast pads, and sanitary towels.
o A reusable spray bottle for your homemade all purpose cleaner.
o Water bottles for your packed lunch.
o Coffee cups, as most coffee shops will fill these up for you instead of their disposable take-away cups!
- Use reusable paper straws and shop at places that offer recyclable alternatives to single use plastic takeaway cups, straws or stirrers.
What does ‘reuse’ mean?
The second “R” is all about finding new jobs for old things. It’s about getting more from your products and resources and trying to avoid single-use, disposable products.
What can I do?
One of the biggest trends in reusing materials is connected with single-use plastics. You can take something that would normally be used only once before it’s disposed of, and extend its lifespan by using it multiple times.
If trying this with plastic products, remember to clean out containers properly first so that you can reuse them or “upcycle” them into something new. Why not try turning an old ice-cream tub into a craft box? Or reuse your takeaway containers to store pre-made meals in your freezer? You are sure to find ways to use plastic containers more than once.
What does ‘recycle’ mean?
Recycling is the process of converting waste into new materials that can be used again. It’s most commonly managed as part of your household waste collection with a number of today’s products being made from at least a percentage of recycled materials.
Why is recycling important?
There are so many benefits of recycling; we can’t possibly share them all. However, a few top reasons you should be recycling include:
- After recycling, the used plastics are converted into new products. This means fewer natural resources are required.
- It requires less energy to use recycled plastics in manufacturing, therefore recycling saves us energy.
- Recycling protects the environment. Not only does it decrease the need to extract raw materials it reduces how much ends up in landfills and oceans.
How to recycle plastic at home
As we become more conscious of the effect we are having on the environment the government and brands are taking steps to make it easier for us to recycle. Many containers will have the national symbol printed on the packaging. Beer, water and fizzy pop caps can also be recycled so it is always worth checking your local recycling centre for information on which plastics can be popped into your recycling bin, and which will need to be recycled in the bins at the centre.
Our guide on how to recycle plastic packaging has some more tips you may like to try.
Now you have some great inspiration to reduce, reuse and recycle the single use plastics in your home, you can be sure you are doing your part to protect the environment.