Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Doing your bit!

The 3 R’s are very much raved about in the world of green living. But making our wasteful society a more sustainable place to live doesn’t always rank highly in the general household; especially when we have our children running round but most of us try to do our bit, no matter how small.

We’re not talking extremes here like the recently publicised family who threw one waste bin of rubbish away in a year, but if we all do a little between us we will make a big difference.


The ‘Reduction’ element is aimed at the amount of waste we throw away, in some cases careful choices at the supermarket can instantly reduce the amount of waste you produce.

For instance; ensuring you only buy what you need, instead of bowing to tempting ‘BOGOF’s’ on fresh food leading to it going to waste. Even special offers on disposable nappies leads to issues – ever brought too many of one size? Also avoiding excessive packaging on processed foods or ensuring as much of the packaging as possible is recyclable, Jars are a good example of recyclable packaging.

Fortnightly waste collections carried out by most councils in the UK and possible progression to ‘weigh & pay’ waste collections, raises the question to the increasing costs of waste, one of the largest preventable impacts on our landfill sites are ‘Nappies’!

Millions make their way to landfill everyday, should the weigh and pay schemes come in, disposable nappies prove a costly convenience for the average household.

Reusable or washable cloth nappies would provide the most ‘viable’ option for most households, although it may be argued that cloth creates as much of a carbon footprint as disposables when washing /drying is taken into account. Water and electricity are resources which are already available, cloth nappies are capable of  clothing many bottoms and don’t have an immediate impact on landfill.


Reusing anything is better than creating waste from it. Cloth nappies, washable baby wipes are all fab examples of regular reuse. However other things which can be reused such as carrier bags/shopping bags, buying second hand baby clothes & toys instead of buying new clothes all the time. Give yourself a maximum number of outfits (ie 1 dozen per size – as you wash frequently anyway).

There is also a good second hand market for re-usable/cloth nappies which are a good way of trying a variety of makes without the expense of buying new. An added benefit of buying ‘preloved’ nappies is that the pre-washing has already been done –  saving you the energy, water and resources.

Bottles &  jars can be re-used to store alternative items and newspapers can also be re-used crafts and animal bedding among other things. Even better if you can get a local milkman, bottles are washed and re-used without having to go through energy intensive recycling processes.


Bottles, jars, cans, cardboard and newspapers are the things we tend to think of when considering items that you can recycle. In some cases avoiding excessively packaged alternatives could be the preferred option – supermarkets still put tonnes of un-neccessary packaging on their products.

A recent trend as led to the emergence of ‘Upcycling’  for instance taking an item and converting its use to something else. eg old jumpers converted to nappy covers, or scrap material to make a shopping bag or quilt, broken plant pots or plates into trendy mosaics. The only limit is your imagination.

There are tonnes of ideas on the internet for upcycling, why not give it a try!


I am Mummy to a little boy called Quentin, currently on maternity leave until July 2010 and Nuts about Cloth Nappies.

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1 Response

  1. Jo says:

    Thanks Nicola! I’ve been ‘googling’ the term ‘upcycling’ and you’re right there are loads of ideas on the net – you can make gorgeous dresses for toddlers from mens work shirts! I got a sewing machine for Christmas so will be giving this a go.

    We get a weekly organic veg box from a local farm – this has reduced our waste massively as well as making us healthier!

    Another great way to reduce waste is to swap your bottled water for tap water. Take it out with you in a re-usable flask. There are many filters on the market if you would prefer not to drink it straight from the tap.

    Jo X

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