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(2 minute read)

By now, we all know that we’re close to Earth’s breaking point: we are currently experiencing a climate crisis and we don’t have long left to resolve the problem before we’re past the point of being able to reverse the changes. According to the Climate Reality Project, it boils down to one simple problem – fossil fuel consumption is causing carbon pollution and this is warming the planet. Nature cannot cope with these changes.

We are currently being inundated with messages from various news outlets telling us how to help, and one key thing we can (and should) all be doing is recycling. Having said that, there’s more to it than simply chucking our plastic, cans and cardboard into the green box each week. We should all be trying to live by the 5 Rs, so we’ve broken them down to look at each stage. 

1. Reduce

First of all, when you’re out shopping, consider whether you actually need the thing you’re buying. When buying food, can you reduce the amount of plastic you’re buying by selecting the loose product rather than the pre-packaged goods? When buying clothes or other household items, do you really need the thing you’re buying? If you do need it, could you buy it secondhand or do a swap with someone? Retailers are cottoning on to the fact that consumers don’t necessarily want brand new and some are organising large-scale clothes swaps. Have a look, or visit a preloved shop. 

2. Reuse

Some things we buy are intended to be single-use. At times, we can reuse these items, such as water bottles bought while on the go. Other times, we need to make the effort to buy reusable products. Disposable razors? Why not buy a reusable one? Makeup wipes or nappies? Buy fabric ones that can be washed and reused. There are so many alternatives out there: what can you find to swap

3. Repair

It wasn’t that long ago that we were a nation of “make do and mend” attitudes. In the 1940s, clothes were rationed to free up production of war necessities so a government-backed scheme encouraged civilians to revive and repair their old, worn-out clothes. Found a hole in a favourite piece of clothing? Can it be sewn back up, or could a patch work?

4. Repurpose

Invariably, things will break. Before simply throwing them away, is there anything we could use these items for? Clothes that are now more patchwork than the original material could be used to make a bag, blankets or cushion covers. Plastic food pots with lids can be used for further food storage or organisers for small items while water bottles can be converted into bird feeders, plant watering containers, jewellery stands or even pet toys. Take a look at Fosh Bottles for 60 ways to use water bottles!

5. Recycle

Once you’ve been through steps one to four, you’ll notice you have less rubbish and less recycling. Pay attention to local recycling rules and make sure you’re separating your items accordingly. Wash your recycling and break things down into their constituent parts as necessary.