Once we own something – anything – from a jumper to a flask to a bike, the most responsible thing we can do is Reuse it for as long as possible. The longer we Reuse something, the lower the impact that thing has – the embodied cost of energy and emissions is spread over a wider timescale.
We can think about it like jam on toast. A spoonful of jam on one slice of bread is quite concentrated – but if we take that same spoonful of jam and spread it equally over an entire loaf of bread, it is spread a lot thinner and it lasts longer. That jam is like our personal carbon emissions. Use it all up on one slice of bread every day and we’re using a lot of jam (or carbon). Spread it over a longer time span and the further that embodied carbon lasts. By Reusing any item again and again, we are Reducing our need for new items and therefore avoiding the impact they have. We’re stretching that jar of jam further.
Reuse can of course, take many forms, but the most obvious is with replacing throwaway reusable items, like disposable coffee cups that have been ‘designed’ to have very short lifespans, with reusable alternatives instead. We have been tricked into a need for convenience – and until recently we have had no connection between our daily lives and the impacts it has. We now realise that these single-use options are very problematic, especially when it comes to plastic items, or hybrid mixes of materials which cannot be Recycled. Plus, Recycling is not the answer.
so what can I Reuse…?
- replace single-use cups with reusable cups/flasks
- no single-use plastic bags – reuse any bag made from any material!
- use small drawstring bags for loose produce when shopping
- clothing – buy second hand. Make things last. Take a look at Renting for more tips too.
- ANYTHING! buy as much as you can secondhand!