Reuse, Recycle, Renew

July 21, 2008 Updated: November 27, 2010
Modern machines such as computers and personal entertainment devices are being recycled by the Co-Op in Sydney's West. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Modern machines such as computers and personal entertainment devices are being recycled by the Co-Op in Sydney's West. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

The term “throw-away society” is often used to describe today’s culture. It seems to be an ever-morphing period of time where change comes faster than the second hand of a clock, a time in which we increasingly purchase new items on the slightest whim, with little or no thought for the repercussions of waste.

Most goods, from food to clothing, are over-packaged for improved presentation and to grab the consumer’s attention. Thankfully, due to a shift in awareness, people are taking a greater interest in environmental issues and making the right choice to reuse, recycle and renew.

Recycling is a daily part of most households throughout Australia. Recycle wheelie bins are supplied by most councils, which makes recycling easy and effortless. If you’re not in the habit of recycling, there’s no time like now to start! It is just a matter of finding a system that works and creating a habit so your enviro-friendly actions can be easily sustained.

Start with your general household rubbish by having two rubbish bins inside – one for non-recyclables and the other for recyclable rubbish. Take this one step further and keep a third bin outdoors – a compost bin – for all your organic waste. You can use the compost in your garden to supply extra nutrients to your plants.

Recycling has come a long way over the past 10 years and is more than just separating the plastics, papers and tins from organic and non-recyclable rubbish. Items you may have thought worthless and ready for the bin could be taken to your recycling depot or even returned to the manufacturer to reuse certain parts.

Mobile phones, iPods, printers, smoke detectors and printer cartridges can still be useful when they’re no longer any use to you. Your effort to recycle such goods will save valuable space being used for landfill as well as preventing toxic chemicals and metals from entering the environment. For information on how to recycle anything from old shoes to wedding dresses to women’s cosmetics, visit .

 (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)
(Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)
If you feel a bit helpless about making a difference to the environment, just remember the words of legendary Australian songwriter Paul Kelly sings: “From big things, little things grow.”

Instead of buying a new bottle of fabric softener next time you go grocery shopping, buy a refill to save on plastic wastage. If you are spring cleaning and end up with piles of old clothes, children’s toys and other unwanted household items or furniture, keep in mind that what is somebody’s trash is usually someone else’s treasure. Take your items to your local Lifeline or St Vincent de Paul store.

Workplaces are often major offenders when it comes to waste, especially paper. A very simple way to save paper is to ask whether you really need to print that e-mail or if it could be saved to your computer and used electronically. Another easy tip to cut the paper waste at work is to keep any paper that can be re-used and staple a pile together to use as a message or note pad for the week instead of using a notebook from your office supplies. Check to see that your workplace has a recycle wheelie bin or an active recycle programme in place. There might be a small cost involved, but it’s well worth it in the long term.

Next time you buy paper products such as toilet paper, wrapping paper or writing pads, look for recycled paper products. The energy used to make recycled paper is considerably less than non-recycled products.

Consciously choosing to recycle, renew and reuse may take a little more time and effort initially, but before you know it, it will be an everyday habit and a shift in thought patterns and actions for the better. In the long run, you can take comfort that your endeavours will be improving our environment.