Why recycling is often not the best option

Don't recycle?  Seriously?
We are constantly advised and asked to recycle, so why would someone who claims to be fairly green be telling you not to recycle?

Recycling isn't always a good thing
Of course there are some instances where recycling is a good idea, but ultimately, it should be the last option.  Doing without in the first place would be greener!  But failing this, re-use is a much better idea.  The three golden rules, in order of preference are: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.

Environmental costs 
Recycling can use a lot of energy and transport and it can be economically costly too. It also sends the unhelpful message that we can use things once and happily throw them away if they can be recycled.

This encourages creativity and the golden rule of multi-use akin to greener lifestyles.

Some people tell me proudly that they have two recycle bins and that they fill them up every two weeks.  Whilst the basic sentiment is right - they are not sending things to landfill, a different view may be more useful.

What do we do with our recycling?
Some people imagine that if we're rarely using our landfill bin, that our recycle bin must be constantly full, yet our recycling bin goes out just four or five times a year.  If I have finished with an item, before it goes in the recycling bin, I will consider if it can be used again and quite often it can be.  Here are some examples.

Glass jars and bottles
These can be given to friends who make sauces, jams, chutneys etc. Alternatively, join Freecycle or a local Facebook page, ours is Green Minded People of Tewkesbury and ask if anyone local would like to collect them.  Make sure that whoever uses them knows that they have to be sterilised first.

Egg boxes
Friends who have chickens are pleased to have these, or perhaps find a local Poultry Page and ask if anyone can use them.

Toilet rolls
Tear these up and compost them because in order to make the best compost, you need a good balance of 'browns' (cardboard, leaves etc) as well as 'greens' (veg peelings etc).  Actually composting is the ultimate example of re-use and recycling together.

Wrapping paper
Here's a previous blog I wrote about not buying wrapping paper and how it can be reused several times. Green Giving.  The picture below shows some wrapping paper that is 'past its best', but wrapped in a scarf, it's given a new lease of life!

Here is another present wrapped in paper which has been used many times.  This is especially good if you are given any shiny paper as this isn't recyclable anyway.  Try to bear this in mind if you are ever buying new gift wrap.

You can put books into recycle bins, but they really should be read again!  Charity shops are usually pleased to receive donations.  If a book is damaged or definitely too tatty, then the pages can be torn and added to compost.

Clothes in good condition can also be sent to charity.  Clothes that are too worn or have holes can be cut up and used for material to make other things, or used as dish cloths or dusters.  Natural fibres can be cut up and composted or used in permaculture gardening.  Synthetic materials can go for material recycling (check with your charity shop).  These are turned into fleece, stuffing etc.

Make your own notepad using the back of paper that invariably accumulates, (even though you've specified that you don't want to be contacted by post!)  

Junk Mail
You can recycle your junk mail, but it's better to reduce it in the first place. Fill out the form here Stop Junk Mail

Repair Cafés
Repair Cafés are springing up all over the place.  Instead of sending your broken toaster to WEEE waste (waste electronic and electrical equipment), see if it can be repaired and therefore reused.  You can also take clothes, toys, umbrellas, clocks etc etc etc.  Here is our local Repair Café do you have one nearby? 

Quirky and creative
If you have an item and you're not sure if it can be reused.  Try Googling it to get some ideas. Here's a lovely one I saw the other day for re-using pillows DIY pillow bed

Quite often people leave things outside their house with a note saying free to collector.  People give all sorts of things away ranging from tools to furniture and even excess fruit.   If nobody takes the item(s), they can be sent to a charity shop. The most exciting thing I found recently was a mechanical clock as I had actually been looking out for one.  I don't like electric clocks and I find the ticking very soothing (once I got used to it which took about 20 seconds).  What's the best thing that you've found?  Do you have any other re-use ideas?