There are also lots of ways to reuse an item before it gets recycled or sent to landfill.
Refuse and reduce
'Refuse and reduce' means using less in the first place. If you're waste conscious when you buy and use things, you'll end up with less waste to get rid of later on.
If you 'refuse and reduce', you'll also save valuable resources and money.
You can 'refuse and reduce' by:
- Buying items that will lead to less waste. Ask yourself:
- Will it last a long time?
- Is it made with a minimal amount of material?
- Is it made from recycled materials?
- Can it be recycled?
- Can it be repaired?
- Does it use waste-conscious packaging?
- Using paper, food and other materials carefully so that you don't waste them
- Storing things carefully to reduce waste – e.g. keep perishables cool
- Maintaining and repair things to extend their useful life
- Planning ahead instead of impulse buying
- Saying no to unnecessary items such as plastic shopping bags
- Always printing and photocopying double-sided.
'Reuse' means using the same item more than once rather than disposing of it straight away. It makes sense because you'll save energy, raw materials and money and you'll be sending less to landfill.
You can reuse by:
- Hiring, sharing or borrowing items that you don't use very often (e.g. movies, books, magazines)
- Buying reusable items rather than disposable ones (e.g. rechargeable batteries, drink bottles, re-inkable whiteboard markers)
- Putting aside scrap paper and used envelopes to use again
- Keeping old containers for storage, craft and gardening (milk cartons make great plant pots and pencil holders)
- Buying reusable shopping bags
- Giving unwanted items another life (like donating old clothes to the opportunity shop).
When you 'recycle' you send a used product to a factory to be remade into the same product or something different. By recycling you can save energy and raw materials and send less to landfill.
Here are some things you can put into your recycling bin:
- Aluminium cans and foil
- Glass bottles and jars
- Steel cans
- Plastic containers numbers 1–5 (but not polystyrene, plastic bags or plastic wrap)
- Milk and juice cartons
- Paper and cardboard
- Newspapers and magazines.
There are many other things you can recycle, but you can't put them into your recycling bin. Here are just some of them:
- Light bulbs
- Printer cartridges
- Car batteries
- Mobile phones
- Scrap metal
If you want to recycle these types of things, you can find out how to do it by contacting Council's Sustainability Officer.
'Compost' is created by fungi, bacteria, worms and other tiny organisms out of your food scraps and garden waste. By adding compost to your vegetable garden or garden beds, you'll add plenty of rich nutrient and organic matter to keep your soil productive and your plants healthy.
You can create your own compost by making a backyard compost heap or buying a special composting bin. Here are some of the things you can add to a compost heap:
- Vegetable and fruit scraps
- Fallen leaves (in layers)
- Tea bags and tea leaves
- Coffee grounds
- Vacuum cleaner dust
- Soft stems
- Dead flowers
- Used vegetable cooking oil
- Egg shells
- Old newspapers (shredded)
- Grass clippings (in layers)
- Sawdust (not from treated timber)
- Wood ash.
Make sure you don't add any of these things to your compost heap:
- Meat and dairy products
- Diseased plants
- Metals, plastics and glass
- Large branches
- Weeds that have seeds
- Bread or cake (this may attract mice)
- Sawdust from treated timber.
Close the loop
'Close the loop' by buying green products and materials made from recycled material. By buying products made from recycled materials, you can be sure that you consume sustainably and play your part in greenhouse gas reduction. Here are some of the many things that are made from recycled material:
- Paper, toilet paper, tissues
- Plastic rulers, pens
- Outdoor furniture.