Read: 4 mins
The word ‘sustainability’ means ‘to avoid the depletion or harm to natural resources in order to maintain ecological balance’.
This article outlines what the 7R’s of sustainability are and how they can be applied in our lives to help reduce the amount of plastic we consume and maintain ecological balance.
At WiseSip, we also believe that there is an 8th ‘R’ which is of the upmost importance when it comes to looking after our planet – read on to find out what it is! (If you follow us you probably already know…)
“To bring down to a smaller extent, size, amount, number, etc.”
Reducing is about using, consuming and sourcing less plastic.
Reducing is, perhaps, the most important aspect to leading a zero-waste life and thankfully the solution is pretty simple.
Simply decrease the frequency at which you consume plastic.
Examples of Reducing:
- Using less plastic bags – taking your own bags to the store would allow you to reduce the amount of plastic bags you need
- Using no plastic straws by choosing to bring a reusable alternative with you
- Driving your car less. Yep, you read correctly. Albeit a more niche suggestion, driving actually causes plastic from tyres to grind against the road, releasing micro-plastics into the environment!
"To use again or more than once"
Single-use plastics are some of the most harmful type of plastics to our environment.
Examples of single-use plastics include, plastic straws/stirrers, plastic drinking bottles, bottle caps, plastic packaging and even chewing gum.
Not only is using reusable alternatives simple and effective, but it is also likely to save you money in the long run!
Examples of Reusable Products (follow the links for our favourites):
Contrary to popular belief, buying reusable products can actually save you money:
- It’s estimated that the average person in the U.K. consumes around 150 plastic water bottles every year
- 1 reusable water bottle may cost around £20 and can, theoretically, be used for life
- The average 1L bottle of water costs about 65p.
Therefore, a reusable water bottle would lead to a dramatic saving of around £955 if used for 10 years instead of plastic water bottles!
Let’s all Choose to Reuse!
"To convert (waste) into reusable material"
We’ve all heard of recycling – it’s about turning the waste we produce into something else with value.
Luckily, most countries have now developed impressive infrastructure, making it easier for households to recycle some of their waste.
Many environmentally-focused companies are now even utilising recycled household waste to create items such as bags and clothing.
It’s clear that we all need to recycle where we can although it seems that recycling plastic is harder than it may appear.
Indeed, around 42% of packaging in most supermarkets cannot actually be recycled ‘easily’, whilst the symbols utilised can be misleading…
The symbol shown is called ‘The Green Dot’ and means that a financial contribution has been made towards recycling by the company and does not mean that the packaging it is applied to is recyclable. It does look very similar to the recycling symbol but they have totally different meanings.
So, be sure to look twice at the back of the packaging when you’re next at the shop because you may end up trying to recycle packaging that isn’t recyclable!
"To consider doing something, especially a course of action in a different way."
If you want to make the biggest difference, however, maybe you could rethink the manner in which you shop.
Indeed, thousands of refill shops are beginning to crop up around the world.
Have a quick internet search to find your nearest place and head over with some empty jars!
This way, you’re helping a local business AND doing your bit for the planet.
"To Indicate that you are not willing to accept something offered or requested"
Linked to reducing, refusing is basically the art of saying ‘no’ to an offer of something you perceive you neither want or need.
Refusal costs nothing and can have a huge impact on the world. Single-use products such as plastic bags, plastic straws and chewing gum should be refused wherever possible and reusable alternatives should be sourced if necessary in their place.
Here are some shocking UK consumption averages:
- UK consumption of plastic water bottles per year: around 7 Billion
- UK consumption of single-use plastic bags: around 550 Million
- Plastic straws consumed per person per year: 5 Billion
Imagine if we all began to refuse plastic more… it can have a huge impact and costs nothing!
"To restore (something damaged, faulty, or worn) to a good condition"
Repairing items is a fantastic way to save money and keep plastic out of landfill sites.
For example, you may own a chair that has a broken or split leg, instead of throwing it out could it be glued back together and used again?
"Adapt for use in a different purpose"
Perhaps one of the most difficult ‘R’s’ to incorporate into our lives, repurposing plastic is another fantastic way of minimising plastic waste. By repurposing, single-use items can be made into multi-use products.
Examples of repurposing:
- Cutting up plastic bottles and using them as vases or storage containers for refillable dried foods
- Using plastic boxes to plant flowers or fruit/vegetables
- Repurposing plastic containers into toys by sticking bottle caps to them for wheels of a car
There are some great examples of repurposing plastic bottles here: click this link.
The final 8th 'R'...
"A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements"
At WiseSip we think that another ‘R’ should be added to the traditional 7. The 8th ‘R’, respect, is all about treating people, wildlife and the planet kindly. Respect the planet, respect one another and we will succeed in our mission to become a plastic-free world!