Reducing and Reusing Waste
The most important part of managing waste is to not produce it in the first place! By preventing waste, we remove the need to either recycle it, incinerate it or dispose of it in a landfill. Reducing waste involves making choices. These choices are the choices you make every time you go shopping. For example:
- Try to choose loose fruit and veg instead of bying it in plastic punnets with shrink wrap.
- Many washing powders and liquids now come in a concentrated form- this reduces the amount of wrapping. Some are also available as refills.
- Photocopying double sided. It is common sense of course as it also saves money, but it is surprising how often people just hit the "copy" button when printing a large document. In a normal working year if you were to copy just one two-page document every day double sided, you would use 250 less pages. If you consider that a large organisation may produce literally millions of photocopied pages every year, there are huge reductions to be made.
- Rechargeable batteries are a great way to cut down on waste- in this case, hazardous waste. The quality of rechargeables is improving all the time, meaning that the number of times they will fully charge is increasing.
Food waste in particular is avoidable. The amount of food people in Ireland throw out is incredible. About 35% of what goes into our refuse bin is organic- that means it is either food waste or garden (green) waste. When it comes to the food waste part of this, the best estimate is that between €700 and €1,000 worth of food is thrown out by families in Ireland every year! So what can be done about this? A very good place to begin is the Stop Food Waste website This is a great site that explains the issues in detail as well as providing a wide range of solutions to the problem. This includes advice on buying, storing and cooking food to minimise waste. The recipes are great because they show how a range of food items that are in the fridge or the press but need to be used up soon can be turned into tasty meals. It also has information on gardening to reduce green waste.
Another way of reducing waste is to reduce unsolicited mail, or junk mail as many people call it. Many people choose to put "no junk mail" signs at their letterbox as it should certainly reduce the amount of unsolicited mail you receive. These are available in many hardware stores.
A really important thing to consider is simply to repair items rather than replace them. Repair My Stuff is a website directory of repair businesses, from shoes to electrical goods, as well as businesses that reuse items in their products. Local noticeboards also frequently list people who can fix things.
Simply put, giving items a second home after you no longer want them is reuse.
Charity shops are always looking for good quality clothes, books, toys and household items- items that can be readily sold to help support the charity. They are not looking for clothes in poor condition, broken toys or household items. Poor quality clothes should be left in recycling banks. The Irish Charity Shops Association has a list of shops across the country. There are also a network of textile recycling banks (reuse really)- some are operated directly by the charity, others are commercial nad may make a donation to a named charity, check with the operator if you wish to enquire further.
The Community Resources Network of Ireland also list a directory of repair businesses and initiatives.
Many peple now list items for reuse on social media pages and indeed a number of commercial reuse websites have been developed where you may pay some of the charge for the item to the website owner.