Reusing and Recycling Isn't Working - Here's Why We Need to Reduce

Sustainability Nov 17, 2020

There, we said it. But hear us out. Your planet depends on it.

Cleaning up after a weekend party and wondering what to do with the leftover greasy pizza boxes and empty packets of chips? Surely, the environmentally-responsible thing to do would be to toss them into the recycling bin, right? Well, not quite.

Greasy pizza boxes and chips packets are just two of the many items that are often mistaken to be recyclable. Other confusing suspects include foam boxes, Pyrex glassware, and receipts. Unless we’ve got bionic eyes or significant knowledge of identifying the material make-up of things, recycling could very well be a daunting task.

If you’ve spent much of your life confused while trying to correctly navigate the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle), we’ve got good news. It turns out, focusing diligently on Reducing alone can result in significant impacts as we strive towards a zero-waste future!

Reducing doesn't mean banishing yourself to a remote island to live a hermit life - though island life doesn't sound bad.

Why Reducing is Better Than Recycling

While recycling helps us feel like we’re not being entirely wasteful and are doing our part, it unfortunately still leaves a significant waste footprint. What we don’t realise is that recycling itself is a complicated business that requires excessive amounts of energy and resources.

Not Everything you Recycle Gets Recycled
Surprised? Yes, not everything you put in the recycling bin gets recycled. Factors such as waste spaces, commodity demands and processing cost often influence the efficacy of recycling. Much of what we think gets recycled ends up in the landfills anyway.

The Vicious Cycle of Throwaway Culture
Throwing a paper coffee cup into a bin that says “Recycle” instead of “General Waste” is good but the waste does not really disappear. The cup will end up in storage somewhere for a long while before it gets processed. Think about how soon you get another coffee cup after just having tossed the previous one into the Recycling bin.

Throwing things away requires energy. Producing new things also requires energy. If we keep throwing away stuff to make space for new stuff, we’re not really conserving.

Industries that Contribute to Carbon Emission
Agriculture, transportation and manufacturing are some of the sectors responsible for contributing most to carbon emissions. Even the fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined, accounting for 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions.

While it may seem like these giant industries are beyond our control, we can truly influence the way things are.

The answer is in having less.

Taking stock of what you have is a great wake up call to how much you have and consume.

Reducing is The Better Option

The most effective way to reduce waste is to simply not create it in the first place. We should only use what we need, and avoid excess. Reducing means less waste goes into the landfill and less natural resources are used. This results in lower carbon emissions and pollution.

Coliving Supports Sustainable Living

Coliving at Hmlet encourages having less. Through communal sharing and sustainably designed spaces, Hmlet members find it incredibly easy to experience more while owning less! At Hmlet, assets of all kinds are swapped, borrowed and shared from appliances, furnishings, transport and even food -- you name it. When sharing becomes part of living, you don’t have to worry about not having enough. And when you do have extras, you can always find someone in the community to share it with. That way, nothing ever goes to waste!

Start with friends so you can keep each other accountable but have fun with it at the same time.

Here's How to Get Started

We know it’s not easy so let’s start simple. Small, everyday changes in your daily habits don’t cost much but they can certainly make a difference to the environment.

Energy Consumption at Home
1. Switch it off! Be it the room light, the washing machine main switch or even the water heater.
2. Have a habit of unplugging appliances when not in use.
3. Skip the water heater on humid days and take shorter and cooler showers instead.

Fashion
1. Yes, we know you really want to get that new blouse or that chic pair of earrings. You can, but let’s limit purchases to only one or two items per month.
2. Don’t be afraid to invest in high-quality pieces because you are less likely to toss them away after a short period of time.
3. Just swap. Swapping clothes with others is one way we can experience the joy of having something new without adding to the clutter at all.

Food
1. Plan ahead. Meal prepping helps you decide early on ingredients you’d need for the week and ensures you have ready-made meals for those busy nights.
2. Nobody likes week-old wilted spinach and mouldy strawberries. Get fresh produce at varying stages of ripeness. They’ll store better and you won’t have to worry about them turning bad.
3. If you’re struggling to use up the extra goods, give it away to neighbours or friends. Somebody’s bound to take the almost over-ripened avocados and half a lettuce head off of you!
4. Freeze it. For anything and everything including bread, cooked rice, beans, leftover pizzas and vegetables. It prolongs the shelf-life.


Be it coliving or private accommodation, search for hundreds of rooms and apartments for rent at Hmlet. We’ll help you find a home fuss-free, so you can focus on doing more of what you love. Get started here.

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Hmlet Staff

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