One of the most popular sustainability mantras offering some simple guiding principles is: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - here’s a quick guide to the three Rs.
REDUCING the amount of plastic that we use is a critical first step. There are many opportunities to avoid using plastic whether that’s plastic packaging that covers our food, hygiene products which contain microbeads or synthetic clothing that sheds micro fibres with each wash. Of course this is sometimes hard to do, plastic covers everything from fruit to toothpaste. The first step is awareness, there are some great resources out there that provide lots of helpful information on how to reduce our plastic footprint. One of our favourites is useless.london
REUSING the plastic in our life pushes out it’s useful life, helps reduce consumption and takes pressure off the recycling services. Fortunately there are lots simple ways to reduce the amount of plastic we use, from keep-cups to reusable water bottles, to bags for life. And if you’re keen on arts and crafts there are many clever ways for turning single use plastic into useful longer life trinkets.
RECYCLE - When the choice is plastic or plastic, remember that not all plastics are made equal. Some are more recyclable than others, and some aren’t recyclable at all. Get ready for the science. Plastics can be split into two types - thermoplastics and thermoset plastics. Thermoplastics can be re-melted and remolded into new products, and therefore, recycled. However, thermoset plastics (e.g. saucepan handles, light switches and plastic laminate kitchen worktops) contain polymers that cross-link to form an irreversible chemical bond that can’t be broken down. How do you tell your thermoplastics from your thermosets? Fortunately most packaging comes with an indication of how easy it is to recycle.
Here’s a handy table to help you understand the different labels.