Although most times the items one throws away in rubbish containers are no longer usable for any conceivable purpose, sometimes they are simply thrown away to clear space as they are no longer wanted by the owner, even though they are still functional. Other times there is some damage to them, yet fixable, or they simply have a worn out appearance.
Another suitable category is that of items customarily disposed of after consumption, such as plastic take away containers, plastic bags used in supermarkets, plastic bottles, glass jars and so forth. A greater effort should be made for these not to pile up in landfill.
The goal of the environmental campaign is to determine people to reuse, reduce and recycle, which means reusing items in order to reduce consumption (and save resources) and finally recycle them.
The difference between reusing and recycling is that recycling involves reprocessing, often through both chemical and mechanical procedures, whilst reusing does not involve such intricate transformations.
If the items one no longer needs are in good condition, taking them to a charity shop is an optimal solution. Charity shops are always run by volunteers, sell used items collected from people at low prices and donate all revenues to ethical causes, such as supporting people with a precarious financial or social situation, with a serious illness and so forth. One can donate any sellable objects, from bric-a-brac to clothing, toys and furniture. Many people benefit from this, including buyers, who usually have a deficient financial situation themselves.
It is very common for people to use stationery items such as notebooks to a limited level of their potential, in terms of not using the whole space they provide. Notebooks which are only partially used are thrown out and all remaining empty pages are never utilised. One can use them for leaving notes, writing, drawing etc. Reusing paper before recycling it increases its lifespan and thus decreases consumption. Cardboard boxes are always successfully reused. Initially designed for packaging, empty boxes are used for storing everything from books to memorabilia, old clothes or items one seldom uses. They are also used for transporting a multitude of items from one location to another, for better organisation.
- Scraps of clean paper from notebooks and sheets, for notes and crafts;
- Paper packaging such as bags;
- Cardboard boxes;
- The unused side of printing paper;
- Newspapers (for lining up animal litter boxes and the likes);
- Gift wrapping paper;
- Magazines (cut out images for children to make collages with).
Glass has been used for centuries for the safe preservation of foods and drinks and such products are often sold in glass containers such as bottles and jars. They enjoy substantial popularity as glass is cheaper to produce and therefore products stored in glass containers are less expensive. There is always the option of recycling the glass one doesn’t need, yet it can also be reused, mainly in the form of jars, in order to store homemade foods which need to be preserved intact for a long time.
- Glass bottles;
- Glass jars;
- Other glass containers;
- Broken glass and ceramic (craft lovers can use it for making mosaics).
Considering the fact that we dispose of so much plastic on a daily basis, especially in the form of packaging, more care could be taken to make sure what one throws out cannot be used anymore. Most people want their groceries packed in plastic bags when they shop, and for convenience always accept those offered by stores and supermarkets. There is the option of recycling them, yet the simplest solution is reusing them and through that avoiding a heap of bags piling up on a monthly basis.
Also, when attending certain events which last for hours or days, such as music festivals, most people prefer purchasing a new water bottle (usually a plastic bottle) in places where the initial one could be refilled from the tap. Some festivals encourage that in order to avoid excessive waste. Takeaway meals are regarded as something designed for quick consumption, yet when they come in plastic containers, the containers can be reused for neater food storage.
- Other containers (such as takeaway or ready meal containers);
- Plastic bags;
- Plastic cups;
- Plastic party plates and cutlery;
- Plastic sacs;
- Yoghurt pots (for seed germination);
- Pens which can be refilled.
Reusing furniture: If you own furniture you are not using, you can always donate it to charity shops, public authorities which support people in need, or give it directly to people you know could use it. Prior to that, it should be fixed and cleaned, as well as tested to make sure it complies with the required safety standards.
Reusing textiles and shoes: It is common knowledge that whilst some people can afford to renew their wardrobes periodically and give away their old clothes or shoes, others lack even the basics and could put somebody’s unwanted apparel to good use. If they are in sellable condition, they can be taken to charity shops. Also, there are special containers in public places for people to drop off such items. Before doing so, make sure to wash them, inspect them for defects (tears, holes, stains, missing buttons etc.) and correct those flaws. Also, each pair of shoes should always be tied together, or, if lacking laces, placed in a separate bag, in order to avoid misplacing them.
Other suitable items of this kind include toys, books and objects used in child care, such as baby baths, high chairs, indoor swings, playpens and so forth. There are however other categories of reusable objects and materials as well, such as construction or decorating materials.
Paint for instance can be reused even after a number of years. There are schemes which collect partially used paint cans or buckets and distribute them to those in need. A similar use can be given to motor oil.
Did You Know?
According to Defra, each person in England produced an average of 457 Kilograms of waste in 2009-10. Of this, an average of about 181 Kilograms per person was recycled. That left 60% of un-recycled waste, at an average of 276 kilograms per person.