General ramblings

The FIVE R’s….

July 19, 2013

Those of you who are avid fans of Bob the Builder (!) will be more than familiar with Bob and the team’s encouraging chant of “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle”.

Bob and the team, kicking back in the garden...

Bob and the team, kicking back in the garden…

But now, it would seem, that there are actually FIVE R’s, not just three.

Who is volunteering to tell Bob?

I found out about the two extra ‘R’s’ when I had a sneaky peak at the Zero Waste Home Book by Bea Johnson.

Zero Waste Home UK

This is a lady on a serious Zero Waste mission.
I have been following her on Twitter for quite a while now, and she has a great blog here. Someone tweeted me while we were away on holiday to say that she was on BBC Breakfast, talking about her new book. I didn’t see it (we were trying for a Screen-free week ..!), but I really want to get hold of a copy of the book (have just spotted there are now some used ones on Amazon-yay!)

Anyway, according to Bea, the Five R’s, that should be followed in strict order are:

  1. REFUSE-all the things that you don’t really need-so this includes freebies (my Goody Bag from the Ethical Awards for example..), single-use plastics-saying no to plastic bags, bottled water, and using your own cup for takeaway drinks. Bea does say that of all of the Five R’s, this is the one that has been the most difficult socially. Not sure I would be brave enough to turn down a party bag for one of the Smalls at the end of a party…
  2. REDUCE-this covers not only reducing consumption-so trying to use the car less for example, but also things like de-cluttering the house and garage
  3. REUSE-a little bit of Make Do and Mend comes in handy here-so fix things that break, upcycle your old clothes into something else (like my t-shirt upcycle), use your old milk bottles as watering cans (by poking some holes in the lid!). The only limit to this one is your imagination.
  4. RECYCLE-Recycling is great, but ONLY after you have done the 1st three R’s first. Recycling in itself takes energy-Why do we not have schemes to re-use our glass bottles, rather than spend precious resources breaking them up to make them into glass bottles again? And it often produces things that are of a lower quality-a lot of plastic bottles go on to make inferior plastic for park benches and things like that, it is very hard to recycle them back into food grade packaging again. So yes, do your recycling, but it should almost be a last resort, before throwing something away.
  5. ROT-compost it! As well as garden waste, there are hot composters available that can take all food waste (we have a Green Johanna-it is fab). And you can compost all kinds of things-rubber gloves, elastic bands, jeans, and even….condoms…

So there you have it.
Just reading the small excerpt from the beginning of the book, has re-inspired me to do more and try harder.
I thought we had done pretty well with Waste Watchers, after Christmas, but this is a whole new level. And not just about waste, but also about consumption, which I guess, is what leads to waste in the first place.

The book looks brilliant. You can find a link to read an excerpt of it here. And if anyone already has a copy, can I read it after you..?!

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  • Reply Summer Reading List… | My Make Do and Mend Year August 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    […] Waste Home by Bea Johnson I read the introduction to this (you can find it here) and then blogged about it when I talked about the FIVE R’s. I am really keen to get hold of a copy so I can read the […]

  • Reply AimeeVanVliet July 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Hi!
    I’m also a big fan of Bea’s blog, and bought her book as an iBook for my iPod. If you have any ereader you can do the same, avoid buying the material object!
    Glad to see her philosophy is taking off in the UK too.

    • Reply Jen July 23, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      Hi Aimee
      Probably should get myself an e-reader, but still clinging on in old school style!

  • Reply mehubbyandthekids July 21, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    I wouldn’t mind reading that book either. I’ve saved the blog link so will start reading it. We do have the carrier bag charge here in Wales so I always carry a fold up bag in my handbag. It’s so automatic now I don’t even think to use a carrier bag even if we are visiting family the “other side of the bridge” 😉

    Party bags are a big issue with me at the moment as we have a lot of parties due right after the kids go back to school in September including my little lady’s birthday.

    We do have a compost bin in the garden and use that every chance we can. Single use plastic on food is a big problem and I do admit if I’m shopping with the kiddies in tow I don’t pay as much attention to the packaging as I should. We definitely could do better

    • Reply Jen July 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm

      It’s just so hard-it really is everywhere, and I think we have kind of come to accept it as ‘normal’

  • Reply Vivienne Downes (@VivienneDownes) July 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    It breaks my heart to see wheely bins overflowing along the road waiting for our weekly collection. There’s alot of people that just don’t get the message about the RRR’s! I wish the Government would introduce a charge for plastic carrier bags in England as well as in other parts of the UK. It would be a start to make people stop & think. Doing the £1 a day challenge really makes you even more aware of unnecessary waste. While at a supermarket I overheard a complaint that food was so expensive but they had a trolley full of junk food crisps, snacks & bottled drinks ! Meanwhile I had got 4 reduced meals for 9p each & 6 eggs for 19p as they were on the sell-by date. I froze the ready meals which the pkt said you could, Had an omelette that evening & hard boiled the rest of the eggs for egg salad next day. The egg box is given to the alotment holders who keep chickens, & the meal trays are now used for veg seedlings.

    • Reply Jen July 20, 2013 at 8:35 am

      You are doing your bit Vivienne, and ultimately that is all we can do, and talk to people about what we are doing and try to engage them so they start too.

  • Reply Sue July 19, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I reuse bread bags etc., just turn them inside out. I always have a cotton shopper in my handbag, if everyone did the same we could stop plastic carrier bags being given out like sweets! Will look on amazon for a pre-loved copy of waste book…..everyone should be made to read it, or we won’t have a planet left for our grandchildren and their children!

    • Reply Jen July 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      Quite right Sue. It is reaching a point where it really is coming to that.

    • Reply Jenny Barrett July 20, 2013 at 8:21 am

      WH Smith will start to charge for plastic bags this August.

      • Reply Jen July 20, 2013 at 8:35 am

        That’s great news. Maybe if the government won’t take action, then the businesses will, and change will happen.

      • Reply Chris July 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        Poundland are also going to charge 10p per carrier lets hope more follow.

        • Reply Jen July 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm

          Brillo-could be the start of something!

  • Reply Jenny Barrett July 19, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I take freebies if appropriate to use in home made Advent Calendars for my children – they are now 20 & 22! And we have done very well with free seeds and plants this year so I guess if you have a use for the items then don’t refuse and if you do end up with packaging most can be reused. I have used the horrible polystyrene chips to fill the bottom of large planters so they are easier to move and saves on potting compost!

    • Reply Jen July 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      I guess if you have thought about it and have a use for the freebie, then that is ok. It is more the mindless consumption, and taking stuff just because it is free, which I know I am guilty of at times.

  • Reply Sandy ONeill July 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    I reuse my plastic bags over and over. I wash them with my kitchen towels and a little bleach and hang them up to dry. I have reused some of them so much that the printing of them has worn off.

    • Reply Jen July 19, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      we wash out out sandwich bags! Glad it’s not just me 🙂

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