Reduce, reuse and repair

We all know recycling is better than throwing things away, but did you know it should be a last resort? Recycling uses resources like energy to turn waste materials into new products. There are a lot of 'R's that should come before recycling including reduce, reuse and repair! Here are a few of them.


Reducing waste means avoiding buying things that will become waste. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Take your own containers to a refill shop to reduce packaging. You can re-use packaging containers that you normally recycle, like large pickle jars and wide-top jam jars. Find local refill shops at Zero Waste Near Me
  • Choose loose fruit and veg. If options seem limited check what local greengrocers and veg box delivery schemes offer. 
  • Grow your own! Even if you just have a windowsill, there will be something you can grow which usually has packaging - herbs, salad leaves, cress.
  • Borrow. Use your library or borrow items in your community. The Party Kit Network lends out plates, cups etc for parties. 
  • Buy less, choose well, make it last. Vivienne Westwood said this about clothes, but it's a great mantra for all purchases. Each time you are thinking about buying something, ask "Do I really need this?". If you do, choose the best quality you can afford, in a style which suits you and won't go out of fashion. Then look after it by checking care labels and washing instructions.


This can mean passing on your unwanted items and buying second-hand; or finding a new use for something that would otherwise be recycled or thrown away e.g. re-using an ice cream tub or takeaway container to store leftovers in the fridge; or it can mean choosing a reusable alternative to something disposable. Did you know you can find reusable...


It is quite common these days for clothes or electrical items to be thrown away because they have lost a button or don't turn on. But there is a Repair Revolution going on, because many of these items could be repaired if we only knew how.

Luckily, Cambridgeshire is a hub for Repair Cafes. These match up experienced volunteer repairers with people who need items repaired. They get together over a cup of tea and cake and fix things together! Here are some repair resources.

There are lots more R's that we can do before recycling: re-purpose, re-fashion, rethink! How many can you think of?

Was this web page helpful?