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The Reusables: Replace Everyday Essentials to Improve Your Sustainability

No, this isn’t a new channel 4 programme for you to binge watch, although it would be a good one!

Have you ever given thought to how many of your everyday essentials are bought, consumed and disposed, sometimes in a matter of minutes! The circular economy has gathered momentum in recent years amongst academics, private sector professionals and government policy. But how does this translate to us and our everyday lives and consumer habits? – One of the main trends at the moment is RE-USE.

Our current economic model is linear and underpinned by energy from finite resources,

This clearly isn’t sustainable.

Consider the number of consumer items you use only once and then dispose of throughout a single day… now think how many of those could be replaced with something that can be used over and over again.

Re-use is a central component to a circular system and economic model, we reconfigure the TAKE-MAKE-DISPOSE, to MAKE(from returned or re-manufactured stocks)-USE-RETURN.

The Circular Economy is multi-faceted with many interesting components to consider, further information can be found here.

Here, we’ll look at five wonderful, and at first maybe a bit weird ways, to swap out everyday disposables for reusable alternatives.

  1. Baby Wipes

In 2017 almost 700,000 babies were born in England and Wales. Baby wipes or any kind of cosmetic wipe create huge problems for the UK’s sewerage networks. In London alone,  Thames Water removes 30 tonnes of wet wipes and sanitary towels everyday day, costing Thames Water £12million a year!

Fear not,  there are now all-in-one kits for reusable wipes that use essential oil blends to clean used wipes. The kits eradicate single-use cosmetic wipes, reduce pollutants entering our water systems, reduce cost to infrastructure, and save you money!

2. Beeswax Wraps

Are you always throwing away mouldy food from the back of the fridge? Cotton cloths impregnated with beeswax allow you to wrap up food items using the same piece of material over and over again. You not only prolong the shelf life of your food and reduce your food waste, but also remove the need for plastic cling film or containers.

WRAP states household food waste is at 7.1million tonnes per annum.

3. The Contactless Cup

Re-usable coffee cups have been available a while now. But many people still don’t use them. Could this be the answer to increasing their uptake? A major coffee retailer has now designed a re-usable coffee cup that integrates contactless payment technology. This is a fantastic example of how to make re-usable products more approachable to consumers and how we can integrate them into current systems and everyday lives!

4. Wool Dryer Balls

Do you use a dryer to dry your laundry? You can reduce the time required to mechanically dry your clothes and the number of dryer sheets you use with new wool dryer balls. Dryer sheets can only be used once, wool dryer balls can be used 1000 times and absorb water. You’ll spend less money on dryer sheets, use less energy, and spend less time on laundry. No one likes laundry!

5. The Classics  

There are of course the everyday classics that often we need reminding of. Reusable coffee cups and water bottles are the main players. Although now quite mainstream and widely used, single-use plastic and unrecyclable coffee cups are still a problem for us as consumers to tackle. Did you know Glastonbury Festival went zero plastic this year and prevented almost 1 million single use plastic bottles from being consumed!

However, we shouldn’t stop at products we drink! Shops and supermarkets are now making it far easier to make use of reusable containers. The main ones are grain products, stored in large containers that you dispense into your own ones to take home.

There are some smaller retailers where you can now even reuse tubs/bottles for washing up liquid and toothpaste!