Cutting Waste covers reducing the amount of waste we produce and ensuring products we buy are from sustainable sources. It looks at reducing the waste that we create, reusing where possible, recycling what you no longer need and using products made from sustainable supplies that have a low or positive impact on the environment.
Eventually we want to eliminate the concept of waste by creating a culture where everything is reusable and recyclable. This vision is achievable – think of the way people made the most of what they had in the Second World War – and we are starting to make good progress towards it. Part of this story is also about what we buy and where it comes from. All the stuff we buy came from somewhere, was usually processed in some way, and then delivered to us. What we buy will also have an ongoing impact, so we may want to use products that are efficient and durable so that they last a long-time, and can be reused or recycled at the end of their life.
Our top tips
Reducing the rubbish
- Reduce. If you were asked what you do to help the environment you would probably say you recycle. This is great but it shouldn’t be the first step when looking at what we throw away. First try and reduce the waste you produce – don’t pick up plastic bags when shopping, take a reusable one – buy products that will last and aren’t made to be disposable – print double sided to cut the amount of paper you use – and don’t get caught out by buy-one-get-one-free offers – 1/3rd of the food we buy ends up being thrown out because people are encouraged to buy more than they need.
- Reuse. Secondly, reuse things that are still useful. If that is upcycling some old furniture, turning used glass jars into useful storage solutions or giving your old goods to second hand shops, if something is still useful or could be useful to someone else, don’t chuck it out! There are lots of options now such as Freecycle where you can give away your old goods to a new home and also the traditional charity shops. By giving our unwanted items to charity shops, we help others to find affordable goods and hidden treasures, and also help raise money for charities and our communities at the same time. Click here to find local charity shops.
- Recycle. Finally, make sure you recycle all things that can be recycled! You can recycle much more than just paper, glass and plastic in Sutton. There is a big A-Z list of what can and can’t be recycled and a guide for recycling services available here.
- Get composting. If you have a garden, turning your food waste into compost helps to return important nutrients back to the soil and is better for the environment than landfill. It also eases pressure on waste collection services, helping the Council to reduce its carbon footprint – and save money.
- Join Freecycle Sutton. As well as using Freecycle for getting rid of your old goods, it is a great place to find things you need, for free! There is a good chance one of the 15,000 other people in Sutton who are using Freecycle will have what you are looking for. The Freecycle Network is a non-profit organisation and a movement of people interested in keeping good stuff out of landfills – something we can all support.
- Head over to the library. Libraries are one of the wonders of the modern world. You can pop in, borrow a book, potter about (libraries do more than just books), and it won’t cost you a penny. Sutton has a couple of great libraries and you can find out more about what they offer here.
- Visit your local charity shop and market. Keep visiting local charity shops and markets and you can find all sorts of treasures and help raise money for charities and our communities at the same time. Click here to find local charity shops.
- Get creative. Using the internet, people are sharing their creative ideas of how to make things, upgrade everyday items and fix things rather than replace them. Visit How to make stuff or Make magazine.
- Help our trees: buy recycled paper and FSC certified wood products. Buying recycled paper is a no-brainer and is now pretty much normal; its high quality is proven and it has an environmental impact 85% less than virgin paper (find out more about BioRegional’s work on Local Paper for London here). Buying FSC certified wood and paper products is also very important to help ensure the wood you use is from a forest that is sustainably managed. Trees are absolutely vital for life and we all have an obligation to protect them.
Case study projects
The Vine Project. This Beddington based charity supports the reuse and recycling of furniture and appliances in Sutton, Merton and Surrey. By collecting unwanted furniture and electrical items and redistributing them to low income residents throughout the local community, The Vine Project addresses both environmental and social issues, whilst also employing members of the local community in both paid employment and voluntary activity.
Material reuse in Hackbridge. As part of the Heart of Hackbridge work a lot of material was dug up. Instead of sending this material to landfill it was processed, turned into hardcore and then used on site as the base layer of the new road layout. The original paving slabs were carefully taken up and collected by a local person who reused them. We also reclaimed some granite found near the centre of Hackbridge and had it engraved to create features in the pavement.
This is a national campaign that raises awareness and helps people and organisations reduce the amount of food waste they produce. As well as handy advice on how to avoid food waste by better planning meals, there are lots of tasty leftover recipes to help you get the most out of what you do buy.
To understand a bit more about all the stuff we buy and where it comes from, we recommend you take a look at The Story of Stuff website, which takes you on a journey through different products and where they come from.
10 million items of furniture are thrown away in the UK every year. 3 million of these items could be easily re-used; more could be repaired. The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) is the national co-ordinating body for 400 furniture and appliance re-use and recycling organisations in the UK that collect a wide range of household items to pass onto people in need. Every year their great work helps nearly 1,000,000 low income households and reuses 2.7 million items of furniture and electrical equipment.