I hate waste. I'll start there. Scraping food that my kids have refused to eat into the bin after a meal crushes my soul. Seeing what people throw away at the Council tip crushes my soul. Statistics around food waste and photos of textile waste to landfill and news reports about the damage plastic waste is creating in our oceans - that all crushes my soul. I could go on and on... You get the picture.
Even that word 'waste' - that word sends shivers down my spine in any context.
So creating a business with the primary objective of reducing waste to landfill aligns with and is driven by my personal abhorrence of waste.
Green Heart Collective aims to divert waste away from landfill and give it a second life. It aims to divert 100 tons of waste over the next 2 years. Through this practical action we raise awareness of the climate emergency. Green Heart Collective Ltd articles of association
I don't need to convince you that waste is a global problem. I was in a Zoom meeting last night where we were discussing the plans for a monster incinerator to deal with the waste issue in the North East - and the massive detrimental environmental issue of such a scheme. Over-consumption is not just a problem in creating increasing demand and over-production of new items; it's also about what to do with all that is discarded in the addictive, insatiable thirst for new and shiny, the latest model etc.
There is a growing movement of concerned individuals, companies, city councils etc who are committed to creating change, to reversing this tide. Here's a useful infographic I came across this week.
When I was working as a writer of school assemblies a decade ago, I remember the first set of three assemblies I pitched to Optimus Education was entitled 'REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE'. That was all pretty new back then. We did not know what we know now. Now I have more than three words - I have ten! Here are ten ways we at Green Heart Collective are exploring to reduce waste to landfill. Maybe some of these will confirm you on your current path; maybe some will inspire and encourage you to take further steps to reduce waste.
To re-use an item is to use it again - it's as simple as that. Rather than throwing an item away when you've finished with it, it there a way that it can be used again? Conventional re-use is using an item again for its original purpose. It is different from recycling, which breaks down an item and materially changes it. Re-use does not involve any reprocessing and so is a great way to save energy, resources, time and money.
If you're wondering where to start, consider the items in your world that are single use and reflect on how you can eliminate single use items from your lifestyle - so use a stainless steel water bottle instead of single use plastic bottle or your own coffee cup instead of a disposable one; take a metal straw with you when you go for a takeaway and a set of bamboo cutlery; investigate getting milk in returnable glass bottles from the milkman; use cloth nappies and wipes instead of disposable ones; find a supermarket or local store that allows you to take your own containers to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging.
At Green Heart Collective, we're committed to re-using plastic packaging and cardboard boxes for all our deliveries.
Following on from that, if an item cannot be used again for its original purpose, is there a way it can be repurposed for a different use? There are so many creative ideas out there - look at how some communities are using car tyres to create flower beds or check out Pinterest for ideas on how to repurpose glass jars and wine bottles...
Here at Green Heart Collective, we cannot wait to get some workshops up and running where we can provide items for repurposing and explore creative ways or repurposing together.
Another great way for items to be re-used rather than thrown away is to redistribute them. If there is something you don't need any more, maybe there is someone out there who does. Local groups on Facebook are a great way to share items to give away or requests for items to borrow or have, so that we do not always have to buy new. This is also a great way to make good quality items available to people with limited means, who may not be able to afford to buy them new.
One of our dreams at Green Heart Collective is to create a lending library of tools and other equipment, because not every household needs to own a steam cleaner or lawn mower or step ladder of their own, do they? We already have given away items of clothing locally to those who have expressed a need and coats and blankets to a local homeless centre during that really cold spell, and we have a box of bras ready to be sent off to Smalls For All.
Yes, I know this whole piece is about reducing waste, but I wanted to include REDUCE here, as in reducing the amount of stuff we actually buy in the first place. Do I really need that phone upgrade? Do I really need that new dress? Do I really need to buy new books when I have books on the shelf I haven't read yet?
Decluttering is all the rage, because people are realising that living with clutter actually affects your mental health in a negative way. We don't need all the stuff we have. We don't need to be constantly redecorating and changing all our home furnishings and seeing shopping as a recreational activity. In the infographic, they call this REFUSE. You could also call it RESIST, like what_mary_makes did so eloquently on Instagram recently.
As for me, I have committed to buying nothing new, as much as is possible, and as part of that commitment, I rarely visit shops or shop online! Reducing is very much a part of my personal lifestyle, and I love that the Green Heart Collective warehouse is full of other people's unwanted items that they are trusting us to find new homes for!
So today is Global Recycling Day, so do check out their website, even if you think you know everything there is to know about recycling. And don't give up any recycling habits you already have, even if you are disillusioned by news reports about what Councils across the UK actually do with the recycling they collect. Hopefully, the more news reports and TV programmes expose the truth, the more accountable the Councils will become.
Of the earth’s natural resources, we tend to think of six as the most important – water, air, oil, natural gas, coal and minerals. These resources represent the foundation of our very existence....However, these resources are finite and rapidly running out. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. We are carelessly using the earth’s natural resources without thinking about what will replace them, while billions of tons of waste pour into landfill sites every year. The simple solution to this is recycling – the ‘Seventh Resource’, which can be used again and again. From the Global Recycling Day website.
At Green Heart Collective, we don't throw anything away unless it is deemed unsafe or unhygienic to keep. We will explore avenues of recycling and will share with you any good companies that we find to work with on this.
Reselling has become a popular pastime during lockdown as a way of making a bit of extra money: just look at sites like eBay, Depop, Vinted, Shpock, Marketplace etc and you'll see that everyone is at it!
Here at Green Heart Collective, reselling is the sustainable way forward for our business. We have many dreams and visions, but at the moment, we are setting the foundations by creating our online store for preloved items. Everything else will follow.
Reworking is another way of saying upcycling. It's about taking an existing item and changing it materially to create a more desirable new item. So recently, Nicole AKA The Fruit Moth (check her out on Instagram) bought two men's shirts from Green Heart Collective and then sent me this photo - how cool is that?
It's something I can't wait to do a whole lot more of. I have a stash of denim and plain tees, and bags overflowing with fabrics all ready to go!
When something breaks, do you immediately look to replace it or do you try to fix it? I am fortunate to be married to a confident, and usually competent, bodger. He believes he can fix anything with a youtube video and a Google search for parts.
When I found out about built in obsolescence, I was appalled. That manufacturers could cynically create items that were not built to last so that we would keep coming back for more. That has got to end. TV programmes like The Repair Shop in leading the way (or are they following an existing trend?) in showing that repairing is the way forward. 'Make Do and Mend' was the motto of previous generations - it's time to make that trendy again.
We'd like to run a monthly repair shop going forward for all sorts of different items, getting in some experts to teach us how to repair - from bikes to socks!
This is a tough one. Culturally, most of us have a long way to go before we will feel comfortable offering a preloved item as a gift. It's the thought that counts, right? And much thought goes into choosing the perfect gift, whether preloved or not. And much consideration goes into offering a preloved gift, that shows compassion for this beautiful planet by reducing over-consumption and re-using rather than buying new.
At Green Heart Collective, we will do all that we can to make buying preloved a pleasurable experience for the buyer and for the recipient of the gift.
Finally, if all else fails, sometimes replacing really is the only alternative. But replacing responsibly is the key here. Consider all the options. Reflect carefully. Do your research. Be prepared to pay more for something that will last longer. And then when you receive your brand new item, look after it, so that you can extend its life as long as possible. We need to treat everything we have with care and consideration. I'm not the best at that. I will strive to be better.
So there you go... ten ways to reduce waste. We'd always love to hear from you about other ways to reduce waste, great initiatives you know of or are involved in, events you would like us to put on for you to attend. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, we can do this.