There are three easy steps to making yourself green. These are not the only steps, you can read our 100 Ways To Save The Planet post for that, and not massive steps either, but these are the three ways to start you on the road to becoming a green person – reduce, reuse and recycle.
Step 1: Reduce
Reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ you use is the first and most important step to being green. As Life Goggles’ recycling expert said: “While it’s better to recycle than throw away, it’s best not to use something at all.”
But was does that mean in a practical sense? Simply it means not wasting things and deciding whether you actually need something in the first place.
So where to start? Wastage can be anything from putting too much water in the kettle using more energy and more water than you needed, leaving your phone plugged in when it’s fully charged, or leaving lights on. It’s also about walking to the shops rather than using petrol and damaging the environment in your car or carrying than newspaper and bottle of coke home in your hand rather than using another plastic bag.
These days it’s all about packaging that you end up throwing away. Even if your pears are packaged in biodegradable plastic and a cardboard tray – do you really need them? Just put them loose into your basket, not much harm will come to them. Fruit like bananas especially don’t need a bag to go in – they already have a protective skin on. Do you need the microwave plugged in all the time or can you do without a bath every night and take a shower.
If you don’t use it, then you don’t need to reuse it and then you don’t need to recycle it.
Step 2: Reuse
Obviously you do have to use some things, so reusing them is still better than recycling – that takes a lot of energy and effort. To use an example from above, most people can’t go without taking a shower every day. But that water doesn’t have to go to waste. If you use natural products to clean yourself you can fill up the watering can or the dishbowl while you’re in there. Sound ridiculous? People who have a water meter certainly notice the difference – cheaper bills.
Some people go by the mantra – everything can be used three times. A worn out bed sheet can be converted to pillow cases and then can be used a scrap cloths before they are finally thrown away.
Everyone seems to be banging on about plastic bags and quite rightly. If you can refuse to have one, great, but if you have to have one, use one from the last shop you did or use a organic cotton bag or even using one of the many ‘bags for life’ is better than nothing.
However, reusing is about more than plastic bags. It’s reusing everything and anything – you can even ‘reuse’ food waste by composting it.
But sometimes you won’t even think of reusing certain things – what do you do with old half tins of paint, useless spectacles or old cassette tapes? Even if you can’t reuse something, someone else can. There are ways to reuse a lot of things, especially environmentally unfriendly items that are hard to dispose of. Take a look around Life Goggles for more ideas.
Reusing is the ultimate, pain free recycling.
Step 3: Recycle
When you’ve cut back all you can, reused everything possible and are finally still left with something to go in the bin, it might be able to be recycled. While recycling takes a lot of energy, it’s a lot less than to produce another one of the things you’re about to throw away. An aluminium can for example takes 80% less energy to recycle than to make a brand new one.
The obvious things that can be recycled are glass, aluminium and paper/card – if you do it at home and the office it can make a difference. Plastic can also be recycled, you’ll just need to check which types your council can do.
And even more awkward things can be recycled. For example Tetra-Paks – such as those orange juice cartons that are cardboard with aluminium inside and a plastic lid- can be recycled now, check here for details.
It can take a little effort, but it’s possible to get your rubbish bin to miss you as you throw less and less away. But what’s next?
Step 4: …
Yep, there’s a step 4 and 5 and 6 and so on. Once you’ve got the green bug, there’s no stopping you. You’ll find you start spreading the word to others, ringing up the council, organising collections and getting kids involved. In fact it’s they’re future you’re trying to help, maybe they’ll be getting you involved!
So make a start, have a look around Life Goggles and if you can’t find what you want, ask us, we’re nice people. Honest. You could read our very popular 100 quick and easy ways to save the planet. If you have less time, try our top 10 tips to reduce your carbon footprint.