Green Man on the virtues of reuse, repair and recycle

Much of our carbon footprint is hidden within the manufacture and transport of everyday items we buy and consume.

When something goes wrong, it can either be repaired or thrown away. We are more inclined to repair big, expensive items such as cars or our homes than smaller more disposable things.

However, many things can be repaired or have their lives extended by searching out a replacement part. I recently took my rechargeable beard trimmer back to Boots and found that I could have a new model for £20 or an overhaul for £23. I had the battery replaced and it’s as good as new, and have created far less waste in the process. I’ve also had my laptop screen replaced when it broke, at the cost of about a third of a new laptop.

Reusing items is even more eco-friendly. How about using a ceramic mug in the office rather than loads of paper cups? Even though paper cups may be recycled, they still use energy to make, transport and be recycled and if your reusable cup is reused for just a few weeks, you’ll have saved loads of energy and resources.

I also reuse the blank side of sheets of paper to write letters and invoices, crossing out the printed side and writing “Reuse Recycle Rethink”.

On just two occasions in 16 years as an entertainer, I’ve had an invoice returned because of this approach, and each time I’ve stood my ground and explained why they should pay me, which included information about creating less waste.

I obtained the cheque both times.

Of course, the word which comes before Reuse and Repair in the recycling mantra is “Reduce”. To this end, I am a fan of Buy Nothing Day, which this year is Saturday 29 November. Although symbolic, the messages are clear: you do not have to shop to enjoy yourself, and consumerism is using up too many precious non-renewable resources.

The website is a mine of information, much of it humourous to counteract the very serious nature of the situation.

John Cossham is Community Care’s ethical living expert. Read his blog


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