The 6 R's August 10, 2017 11:24
In this weeks blog I will be discussing the 6 R’s in relation to environmental sustainability.
Even young children know the more widely used of these, recycle probably being the most common. But before we even consume/buy a product, we can rethink our approach to it. I recently needed a new lunchbox for my toddler, I decided to get him a sustainable one which will serve his needs for many years as it more robust and better quality. In doing this I will save money as I won’t be replacing it so quickly. (I got him the robot ‘keep leaf’ lunchbag which we stock at Organic Bliss). Rethinking our choices makes a huge difference down the road.
When we have made our choice, when purchasing any item, think of what comes with that product. As a consumer you are entitled to refuse. Packaging etc can really be unnecessary. At a market recently I refused a plastic bag for my fruit, I had to mention that I did not want it as the man packed it automatically. The same applies for small items such as straws in a restaurant. Mention to the server that you do not need one, bring a cup to the coffee shop, a cloth napkin instead of paper napkins. All these small acts can add up to a lot less rubbish in landfill. Single serving items such as these are catastrophic for the environment.
Reducing the sheer amount of things you buy. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with objects we need to own to be happy. But of course it is never enough, you have to buy the new things over and over. Advertising has us chasing happiness in consumerism. Buy only what you need and when you do buy, make a choice to buy sustainable, fairtrade etc.
It seems that in the new age of immediate gratification we don’t need to fix things because buying a new one seems so much easier or convenient. In the past reusing and repairing was commonplace. Generations before knew the value of items and would work hard to fix it before purchasing a new one. Before the boom in cheap factory goods most items were more cherished (McDonalds toys in a happy meal for example are just plastic rubbish which end up broken and in the bin). This links closely to my previous point about reducing. If we place more value on our items or buy a really good quality purchase then we are more inclined to look after it and in turn it will last longer (think cheap fast fashion as an example).
Of course we all know how to recycle. In some counties in Britain you can recycle most household items, glass, aerosol cans, paper/card, even green waste. Start being mindful about what you throw away, incase it can be recycled, I always give myself a challenge of filling my recycling bin before my regular bin. You can have a compost bin in the garden if you have space. In Organic Bliss we have a biscuit wrapper recycling bin and an Ella’s food pouch bin. Some items you think cannot be recycled can be, sometimes we have to investigate or put pressure on the councils and government to provide a way to recycle more items.
Finally, when we need to replace try to find a recycled object or a refurbished one. I have started using more selling sites instead of immediately heading to a shop (my favourite item being a pine dresser from gumtree instead of going to Ikea). There are more and more accessible sustainability shops on the high street and online, you can find most items you need. I have recently started buying biodegradable bin bags as i know i have to buy them but i have made the decision to only buy an ethical brand.
We can't always avoid purchasing something but when we consider its manufacture and footprint we can begin to think about the bigger picture and change our habits. I haven't even touched upon the human labour of this sort of consumerism, thousands die in terrible working conditions to make all these cheap 'must have' items. Out of sight out of mind only counts for so long, once it's in your mind, you can't continue the same way.
This can all seem overwhelming at first but with one little change at a time we can set a fantastic example for the generations following us and we will be treading softly for the future.
(Images curtesy of Greenpeace, Ocean Conservancy, Channel 5)