The Benefits of Reducing Rather than Recycling
This Plastic-Free July has got the EcoVibe team thinking about consumption.
Reducing is the third step in the 6 R’s of sustainability, and it’s often widely overlooked. Ever notice that your recycling bin fills up much faster than your general waste? Don’t get us wrong, we’re advocates of recycling - it plays a major part in our sustainability efforts, and we should be doing it! You can make old stuff into new stuff, and conserve resources. But, by keeping purchases to a minimum, we avoid creating waste in the first place.
Here, we talk about the benefits of reducing rather than recycling and ways that you can implement simple minimalism aspects to your lifestyle.
What are the problems facing recycling?
Like we said, we all should be recycling. But, there are some key problems facing the industry.
Around 9% of what we put in our recycling bin ends up actually being recycled - the rest often ends up in landfill. There are a ton of reasons why this can happen, we could be putting the wrong things in our bins, or what we have put in has been contaminated by food waste and our recyclables have been rejected.
For example, a pizza box can’t be recycled because of the grease and food residue that contaminates the cardboard. If we put a pizza box in our recycling, or don’t clean out a container properly before disposing of it, the residue can contaminate everything else in our recycling bin too. Unsure of what you can recycle? We got you. Check out our UK recycling guide.
Why is reducing what we consume important?
Reduce represents a fundamental and practical step to reducing your environmental footprint. If we reduce what we consume, we have fewer things to recycle, decreasing waste and pollution. But let’s face it, it’s a really tough step in the sustainability guidelines to adopt. Consumerism is engraved in our lifestyles, and convenience often overtakes sustainability.
For a more sustainable lifestyle, and healthy planet, we should all try to reduce our consumption to only what is necessary. It can be super hard at first, but it’s just a different state of mind.
How can I reduce my consumption?
Breaking habits can be tricky at first, so start small. Appreciate what you already have.
Spend a good amount of time looking at all of the things you already own, do you really need another pair of shoes? Or, another skincare product to add to your overflowing bathroom shelf? Chances are, the answer is no.
We all have shopping urges, but observing what we have and taking small steps to refuse buying more new stuff is a great way to start your ‘reducing’ journey.
Find ways to reuse what you already have
Reduce and reuse go hand-in-hand. The more we reuse, the more we reduce the amount we throw away massively.
The items we pop into our recycling bins all have recycling lifespans depending on the material. For example some plastic or paper items can only be recycled between 1-10 times, whereas other materials like aluminium can be recycled endlessly.
If you’re on a tight budget, and don’t want to invest in new products, you can reuse items that you already have! Here are some of our favourites:
- You can reuse old toothbrushes as cleaning brushes for hard to clean nooks & crannies, just remember to disinfect it first.
- You can reuse old t-shirts by cutting them up into reusable cleaning cloths.
- You can also reuse old t-shirts as yarn - it can be used to crochet baskets, coasters, trivets and planters.
- Socks seem to always get holes in them, if you’re not one to sew things up you can reuse them as dusters.
- Reusing jam jars for other food storage, or for keeping small bits & bobs in.
Invest in good quality reusable alternatives
There’s a reusable alternative for pretty much everything nowadays, and they’re often much better quality than single-use counterparts, and save you some money along the way.
We're super passionate about reusability, and we've been able to source and create some great alternatives. Whether you're looking for a reusable coffee cup, makeup remover pad, or cleaning supplies - We've got it all covered. Check out our favourite Plastic-Free July swaps below!
To help reduce, EcoVibe recommends...
Ready to start reducing?
A major part of reducing what we buy is reusing what we already have. Look around your home and pick out some old items that you can repurpose into handy new products.
Next time you’re out restocking on face wipes, opt for some reusable makeup wipes that’ll last you years!
Got any other tips on ways to reduce? Let us know in the comments!