In the hierarchy of waste, we should refuse, reduce, reuse, reclaim and recycle. Recycling alone, while a step in the right direction, is not enough. To prevent waste, in all its forms, we should first refuse to accept damaging products or practices. We should reduce our consumption in general. But the importance of reusing should not be underestimated. Reusing old items for as long as possible is, perhaps, the most important step on the road to a more sustainable and eco-friendly way of life.
Reusing is important primarily for two main reasons:
Reusing Helps Reduce Consumption
Firstly, it can help us reduce the amount of new items that we must buy. It is important to remember that each and every thing that we buy new comes with a cost. There is not only the financial cost to consider but also other costs, such as energy use, water use and land use associated with that item.
Often, when people think about moving to a sustainable, low waste lifestyle, they forget about the 'hidden' costs of the things they buy and use. But when we choose to reuse old items rather than buying new ones, we can reduce all those costs significantly, and reduce our carbon footprints.
Reusing Reduces Waste
The second main reason for reusing is to reduce waste. Of course, reusing old items rather than buying new ones can prevent waste of raw materials, energy, water, land etc.. But reusing old items for as long as possible also helps to keep items in use that would otherwise have been thrown away.
Many of the items people thoughtlessly use and throw away end up in landfill. Or they end up polluting the wider environment. By reusing older items, rather than buying new, we give those items a new lease of life, and keep them out of the waste stream. Even where waste can be managed sustainably, there are still other costs associated with sending it away for processing. The more we can do to deal with waste on our own properties, the more sustainable our lives can be.
Examples of Reusing To Consider
There are plenty of ways we can reuse at home. For example, we can:
- Use old plastic and cardboard packaging for seed sowing and plant growing etc..
- Choose second-hand clothes/ textiles rather than buying new ones.
- Or reuse old fabrics and clothing to make new clothes, or other upcycled items.
- Reuse old pots, pans, containers etc. to use as planters, or in other ways.
- Upcycle old furniture to give it a new lease of life.
Of course, these are just a few examples. The more we look, the more ways to reuse old items we will find around our homes. Every time you think about buying something new – stop. Before you make any purchase, think about how you might be able to reuse something you already have instead.
Reusing is one of the best ways to buy less, reduce waste, and live better.