By now you are probably well acquainted with the three R’s associated with protecting the environment; reduce, reuse, recycle.
…Involves saying no to anything you don’t ‘need’ and refusing unnecessary products in all areas of life; searching for that minimalist within you!
…Is seeking out different uses for things you already own.
…Is the industrial process through which a residue is transformed into a new material.
Then there is U for Upcycling… Another wonderful approach to living more sustainably.
Recycling involves sending items off to a local recycling facility where they can be broken down and reused or repurposed into new objects. Curbside recycling programs are continuing to grow and become more efficient so make sure you’re keeping up to date with the latest rules and regulations for recycling in your area.
Separate your waste by using different bins for different categories. Label each bin to make composting and recycling easy for the whole family. Even if some items such as soft plastics are not accepted for recycling by your local authority, that is not to say that they cannot be recycled at all. Some supermarkets, grocery stores and specialty retailers offer take-back programs to repurpose such items.
When you are recycling containers that have previously held food or liquids, it is very important to thoroughly rinse them first because any residue will slow the whole sorting process.
Food waste must be kept separate, as when it is mixed with other waste it can produce large amounts of methane, which has a direct impact on global warming. A home composting bin or worm farm is a great solution for this.
Some items you may think are recyclable at first glance are actually lined with non-recyclable material. For example, paper coffee cups are lined with polyethylene plastic and takeaway containers have a waxy inside. Pay close attention to the packaging you are purchasing.
Upcycling is a continuation of the recycling process, also known as creative recycling. It involves taking old or forgotten about objects and using your imagination to re-purpose them into something new. Upcycling requires deep thinking about new uses; taking advantage of the available resources you have to create new objects; giving them a fresh touch through imagination and creativity.
There are a million and one ways to upcycle things you have lying around the house. One simple way to get started is to hold onto all glass and plastic jars that you previously purchased products in and re-purpose them to store leftovers or display dried foods in your pantry. You can even get a little crafty with old food packaging, adding labels or a new paint job.
Your bathroom cabinet is another treasure chest with plenty of upcycling potential. Skincare, bath and beauty products come in a variety of uniquely shaped bottles that can be upcycled once empty. Keep the smaller jars on hand for your next travel excursion when you need carry-on friendly storage vessels. Use the more uniquely shaped jars to hold succulents and plants, or simply use them for storage of other items like jewellery, toothbrushes and vitamins.
The possibilities for upcycling are endless! There’s no need to toss your containers or buy expensive storage materials again.