What one thing would you like to see everyone reduce, reuse or recycle in 2011?

Happy New Year everyone!

Last year, at the start of 2010, I asked everyone what they were going to reduce, reuse and recycle in 2010. I said I hoped to cut back on buying clothes & do more cooking/baking at home to cut down on pre-packed food packaging (which I’ve done), and set up dedicated recycling bins to make it easier for us to recycle at home (which I’ve not really done, our recycling tends to end up in piles on the counter until we take it out, so I still need to do something about that!). I hope you kept to your reducing, reusing and recycling goals better than I did!

This year, my main reducing, reusing, recycling goals are to do a better job of collecting rainwater for use in the garden, find a way to deal with dog (and cat) poo in our garden rather than bagging it up and throwing it away, and to continue reducing the amount of hard-to-recycle packaging coming into our home by cooking from scratch/baking even more & to do other related things like make our own soap. And I really should set up those dedicated recycling bins like I said I would last year. (I’ve listed my other simple living – rather than specifically green – goals on my frugal/growing/cooking/making blog The Really Good Life). What do you think your green goals will be for this year?

If you’ve not got any, how about another question instead – if, in 2011, all the world, absolutely everyone, agreed to reduce, reuse or recycle one thing – just one thing – of your choosing, what would you pick? They’d keep doing whatever other recycling they do anyway but would do your one thing every day, without fail, no questions, no grumbling. So what would you pick?

I know some people who will say “everyone should stop using ‘disposable’ plastic bottles” or “everyone should start using washable toilet wipes, hankies & cloths at home” but I think I’d pick reducing food waste – getting people to reduce upfront wastage from buying too much in the first place and encouraging everyone (including businesses) to compost their food waste/kitchen scraps. For some reason, that’s really pushing my buttons at the moment – the senselessness of so much energy being put into food’s production, transportation and preservation only for it to be sent to landfill, gah.

(So I guess that should also be another of my green goals for this year: do all I can to minimise our food wastage here. Be the change you want to see in the world and all that. I’ve added it to my goal list now.)

So what one thing would you pick?

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19 Responses to “What one thing would you like to see everyone reduce, reuse or recycle in 2011?”

  1. Alex Walker says:

    Personally I would love to see people thinking more about the waste they generate from their food intake. Not only is it totally unecessary to buy bulk packs of vegetables etc, but they are packaged as well! It’s so wasteful and by more carefully planning your meals and buying only what you need, you can help to reduce your waste levels very significantly.


  2. The food wastage is a really good point, and it would be nice to see people be more aware. For me, though, my huge pet-waste-peeve is plastic disposable diapers. I would love to see the world cut back on that one. I don’t hold out much hope for it, but one can dream!

  3. Katie says:

    I wish someone would invent biodegradable dryer sheets! It’s really disturbing how many of our “disposable” products never actually go away.

  4. @Alex and @GGW We’d love to see everyone cut down on both the amount of plastics going to landfill from food packaging is crazy.

    Last I checked it was estimated only 12% of the UK plastics were recycled at least there’s been some great suggestions for reuse over the years on this site.

    Reading recycle this should be part of the curriculum for excellence. Any teachers got a twitter hash tag for curriculum suggestions.

  5. Alexis says:

    I think it would have to be packaging – though, banning the sale & production of throw away things (electronics, & clothes) would be a very close second.

    I’m astonished that shops like Zara and Primark specialise in throw away clothes – you have them for 6-9 months and its assumed you’ll get rid of it. Electronics are no better – take ink jet printers – they are designed as “throw away items” so you ditch them after a year or so. We recently replaced our ink jet printer with a laser printer – an article in the FT pointed out that (to our surprise) laser printers are actually greener overall than ink jet printers.

  6. Kacy says:

    I find it a personal pet peeve to not recycle aluminum cans. I think it has something to do with growing up poor and needing to collect them for the money. I know that overall they probably aren’t the biggest threat to the environment, but it is almost as if I can see the homeless person with the bag full of cans when I spot some in the trash. The fact that our curbside recycling accepts cans and people are just too lazy to toss them in makes it worse. I once was appalled at a job when one of my coworkers stuck a can way down at the bottom of a trashcan and said that it was so the custodian could not see it to dig it back out. She laughed about her being so poor that she had to collect cans at work. Not wanting to cause too many problems at a new job, I just said that I save mine for a local charity (which is true) and walked away. (I probably should have grabbed the can first, but was not quite that clever.)

  7. bookstorebabe says:

    Dryer sheets? here’s a link to a tute for wool dryer balls, to soften one’s laundry. And I’ve seen…somewhere….home made dryer sheets on the web, but I forget where.


  8. Lizzy says:

    Plastic Bags

  9. louisa says:

    Hi guys, happy new year to you all!

    Katie: I was going to suggest dryer balls too but the bookstorebabe beat me too it. I’m guessing from your blog that you’ll be able to make your own but if not, there are plenty of handmade ones available on Etsy and you can buy commercial ones in most hippy/wholefood stores.

    Solway: oh you flatterer ;)

    Alexis: “have them for 6-9 months”? 6-9 wears more like! I think I’ve only bought a couple of things from Zara but both fell apart within a month. To be fair, I bought a £6 hoodie from Primark in 2006 and wore it as my everyday jacket for 3 years and still wear it occasionally now, so it’s not everything but I know what you mean. The stuff in Primark etc is also so cheap that it lends itself to being bought without thought and without being tried on – and it’s so cheap, it’s not worth the bus fare to take it back. I severely doubt I’ll be be buying anything from there during my clothes rationing exercise this year!

    Kacy: I know what you mean about the cans – for me, it applies to other things that are super easy to recycle too but still people don’t bother. Grr!

    Lizzy: the glare says it all. I’m with you, sister ;)

  10. Su says:

    Sorry about this but I’m going to be contentious. The food waste thing, does anyboby know of anybody who throws away £600 worth of food a year? Cos I surely don’t. I firmly believe that we, the public, are being lumped in with the supermarkets, who throw away vast amounts. For example, there is a tiny ‘express’ supermarket nearby, and I mean tiny, every Monday morning there is a full cage of bananas for dumping (bananas that have, of course been shipped halfway round the world), along with other stuff. Everybody that I know throws away very little food, in fact it’s common to hear at work ‘oh, we’ve got such and such that needs using up’
    What I would really like people to consider is their car usage. Does anybody really need to get into a car to drive 100 yards to the shop? Lots of people say the ‘need a car’, but in actual fact they could manage very well without it. Where I work, I live the furthest away, yet I am the only person who doesn’t drive, I get the bus or cycle (depending on which shift I’m doing), the rest say they ‘need’ a car, at least 4 of those people live within a mile of work! 2 live literally just around the corner.

    • Kacy says:

      I agree that most people could live without a car, but I really cannot. In the city where I live, which is quite large, there is no public transportation, crosswalks, or even sidewalks. The company I work for tried to organize a bussing program for employees when the gas was really high, but I was the only one who signed up. Unfortunately, there is not much interest where I live. I tried to find coworkers to carpool with, but the closest coworker lives further away than my job, which is about 11 miles. I even tried to buy a house right next to my job so I could walk, but someone beat me to it.

    • louisa says:

      Hi Su,

      Contention is great – a shame I agree with you then ;)

      I agree the £600 a year is probably extreme/an exaggeration – but for all my frugal and green-ness, we’re really quite disorganised when it comes to household matters and I wouldn’t be surprised if our figure wasn’t at the very least a hundred quid a year due to poor planning – the souring ends of bottles of milk, the stale slices of bread, half eaten packs of cheese getting lost at the back of the fridge until they’re green, the odd bit of fresh veg or some leftovers that get forgotten about. It’s terrible and really something I’d like to properly assess and dramatically improve on this year.

      I do completely agree about the cars though. I think it’s very easier to confuse “I have always done this” with “I need to do this”.

    • Alexis says:


      Your point very well made – used to work for MacDonalds (as a teenager) and the amount of food that they bin an hour let alone/day is mind boggling! I can only imagine the amount of the other fast food places combined.

  11. My pet project is reusable diapers (nappies). After making and using reusable cloth diapers for the last seven and a half months, I see no advantages at all to disposables. Cloth doesn’t mean pins and rubber pants anymore! And reusing things like old cotton t-shirts and cotton flannel sheets to make them is even more sustainable. There is some discussion of the materials used to make the waterproof covers, but even there, wool and poly fleece can be reclaimed. Also, while a little more energy is needed to wash a load of diapers in hot water for sanitary purposes, it is still much less than the energy needed to make and transport a package of disposables.

    Of course, many people can’t or choose not to make their own diapers, but there are dozens of work-at-home moms who will make them for you, as well as several larger companies that are concentrating on using sustainable materials for their diapers as well.

  12. D RICH says:

    Grocery store plastic bags. These are the worst culprits of waste overload. Sure some markets will recycle them but the consumer doesn’t bother bringing them back to the store. I say all markets loose the plastic/paper bags and require the consumer bring their own. I Do and I love that when all my groceries are put away, my cloth bags either get laundered or put back in my car for the next trip. It is just that simple.

  13. Linda says:

    Hi Louisa,
    Food waste and chicken keeping should not co-exist. All our food waste goes to the chickens. If it’s too far gone they scratch it in and fertilise the soil. We move our coop but if you don’t you just shovel the unwanted layer into the compost with their doings. The chooks love meat scraps and bones are very clean after they’ve had a go at them.
    I do save the eggshells in the fridge and bake them when I’m baking other things so they are easy for chickens to eat and not confused with the taste of fresh eggs!

    I would like everyone to use the local food sources around them and stop the ridiculous purchase of things like bananas -unless the plantation is at least in your own country.

    • louisa says:

      Hi Linda,
      Oh yes, I guess I was unclear – our chickens get most of all our kitchen scraps/waste and most of the rest goes into compost – but while it’s not going landfill, it’s still a waste of money and an inefficient use of resources (especially the stuff going to compost), and I’d like to clamp down on it.

      We do the eggshell thing too – it’s one of my favourite pieces of recycling!

  14. ecogrrl says:

    i spoke about this in a post of mine late last month (http://ecogrrlnetwork.blogspot.com/2010/12/ecogrrl-in-2011-green-goals.html)

    i ask for people to think about a few key things they buy to consider not buying: paper towels and paper napkins. non-rechargeable batteries (the prices have gone way down on rechargeables!). and not putting your produce in plastic bags – you’re going to wash them anyhow, and they don’t protect anything (remember these things grew in the earth!).

    also, grow one thing edible this year if you have never done it. even if it’s just a little basil or oregano in your window. then next year, grow more. no matter where you live, you can grow something. i swear :)

    regarding food waste….i don’t think people really realize how much food they purchase and don’t eat – think about also how much you don’t finish on your plate, both at home and while you are out, not just what goes bad. in portland oregon, we are going to yardwaste weekly and garbage biweekly instead of the other way around, and they are allowing us to compost food waste in with yardwaste as well, as several companies have realized how much $ they can make by building food composting facilities (and then selling the compost they make).

  15. Judi says:

    I have a suggestion for recycling used dryer sheets. My mother-in-law is 88 years young and loves to quilt. She recently started using the used dryer sheets as a stablizer for her “strip” quilts. She presses out the used sheets and has a “free” stablizing backing.

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