Why recycling alone isn't enough to tackle our waste problem

Olio updates 4 min read

In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with messages about the importance of recycling. From plastic bottles to paper packaging, we are encouraged to recycle everything possible in order to reduce our impact on the environment.

With National Recycling Week kicking off this week, it’s time to take a step back and rethink our approach to sustainability. While recycling is certainly an important part of the solution, it’s not always the best answer.

The Problem with Recycling

While recycling may seem like a simple and effective way to reduce waste, there are several concerns surrounding the process. One major issue is contamination – when non-recyclable items are mistakenly mixed in with recyclables, it can contaminate the entire batch and render it all non-recyclable. This leads to a significant amount of waste and additional strain on recycling facilities.

Another concern is the energy and resources required for the recycling process itself. Recycling still requires a significant amount of energy and resources, from transportation to sorting, cleaning, and processing materials. Additionally, not all materials are able to be recycled, and some can only be recycled a certain number of times before they must be disposed of.

Landfill site

The Solution: Reduce and Reuse

So what is the alternative to recycling? It’s simple – reducing our consumption and reusing items whenever possible. This approach not only reduces waste but also minimizes the need for recycling in the first place.

Reducing our consumption can involve making small changes, such as using reusable containers for food and drinks instead of disposable ones. It also means being more mindful of our purchases and opting for durable, long-lasting items rather than cheap, disposable ones, and looking to source secondhand where possible.

Reusing items is another key aspect of circular living. Instead of throwing away old or unwanted items, we can find creative ways to repurpose them or share them with others who may have a use for them. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. This not only reduces waste but also encourages community and resource sharing.

How can Olio help?

Olio is an app that lets you give away food and household items that you no longer need and get the things you do, by connecting you with people in your local community. We believe that by sharing more and wasting less, we can create a waste-free world that’s kinder to our planet’s precious resources and helps others too.

Since Olio started, 8 million household items have been shared. And alongside the food portions that have been saved, that all adds up to the equivalent of 14 billion litres of water saved, 390 million car miles saved and 115,000 tonnes of C02 that have been avoided. This is a huge environmental impact, which has simply come from local communities sharing what they no longer need and avoiding buying new.

But Olio is just one of many ways you can adopt a more circular living lifestyle. From swapping and sharing events to zero-waste shops, there are plenty of ways to embrace a less wasteful lifestyle. By choosing to participate in these initiatives and supporting businesses with circular practices, we can all contribute to reducing our impact on the environment.

Exchanging of items from Olio

Together we can make a difference

Remember, recycling is just one piece of the puzzle. Let’s not rely solely on it but also focus on reducing, reusing, and exploring other circular initiatives. Every small step counts towards a more sustainable future. Let’s challenge ourselves to think outside the bin and embrace circular living in our daily lives. Share your tips, ideas, and progress with us using #CircularLiving and together let’s make a positive impact on our planet. #OlioCommunity

To read more about ways in which you can live a more sustainable lifestyle, visit our blog post here.

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