Each year, RREUSE members divert over 1 million tonnes of material from landfill through re-use, repair and recycling. Combined across the wider RREUSE network, this is equivalent to the weight of 137 Eiffel Towers.
As part of the European Week for Waste Reduction and starting on the 16th of November, the Reuse More Throw Less Campaign is back. What does this mean and why is it so important? From the 16th till the 24th of November, RREUSE and its members will communicate the weight of all donated, collected and sold goods in their shops daily. This will highlight the positive impacts re-use can have in just one day!
To celebrate the kick-off of this campaign, RREUSE gathered some tips to help you on the road to circularity whilst reducing your waste.
- Put Second-Hand First
Remember that waste is a resource, and as the old saying goes, one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure. By donating any unwanted items to charities in your local area, you are giving back to the community, supporting a circular model of consumption and providing work opportunities for local people. Many second-hand shops can be found online and are pleased to take a range of clothing and household items (as long as they’re clean and in good condition). This will allow you to declutter with a purpose of supporting a more sustainable cause!
A starting point in closing the loop is through buying second-hand. From an environmental perspective, you’ll avoid waste being sent to landfill or incineration prematurely, preserve natural sources, reduce carbon emissions and that’s’ only the beginning. Your actions will also have positive social impacts, and here’s why; you can rest assured that second-hand stores actively engage in work insertion, providing employment for people distanced from the labour market or at risk of socio-economic exclusion. Workers are treated in a fair manner and the second-hand business is more labour intensive than mass produced clothing.
Personal perks and financial incentives also come into play. Second-hand is cheaper, often bought in bulk, and a mix and match vintage style can be as unique as you are!
2. Give your items a longer lifespan
Whilst easy access to cheap and repairable products is not quite the reality yet, premature obsolescence is. However sad this is, by taking great care of your belongings, you can ensure they don’t break or turn to waste too quickly. There are many ways to extend the lifespan of goods such as clothes, electronic devices, furniture and even food! Here are a few tips:
- Read the instruction labels carefully
- Mend tears before washing
- Do not store belongings in excessively hot or humid places
- Treat stains as soon as possible
- Go to repair cafés or repairers to mend your items
- Join a local repair event or other events to learn how to fix, upcycle and create special and unique items from reused materials
- Leave your washing machine open after each wash to allow moisture to escape
- Buy eco-rechargeable or refillable products
- Store raw food in sealed or covered containers
- Store raw foods below cooked foods, to avoid food contamination
- Don’t put hot food in the fridge (it favours bacteria)
3. Re-use over and over
Whether it’s at home, at work or at the shops, keep in mind that you can pretty much reuse everything. Make sure to use your own re-usable bags, bottles and containers. Be creative with how many times and ways you can use an item. For Christmas, you can pick a second-hand or circular economy theme to support your local social economy while having fun with creative presents that won’t cost a fortune. Here are a few tips on re-use:
- Use packaging (nets from fruit) to scrub dishes or clean surfaces before disposing of
- Jam jars can be used as vases, tea-light holders, lunchboxes or cup holders (with re-use elastics looped around)
- Reuse toilet paper rolls to organise cables and chords
- Old clothes can be cut into strips and used as rags for DIY jobs or artistic projects
- Pop old grapes straight into the freezer and use them to chill white wine/cocktails
- You can upcycle old mugs, bottles and bowls into light fixtures
- Old paint pots can serve as flower pots
- Old picture frames can be turned into serving trays
Kelly Piron, Communication and Advocacy Officer, email@example.com