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HOW CAN WE REDUCE OUR WASTE?

The 5Rs


Bea Johnson, the famous zero waste pioneer who can fit a whole year’s family of four rubbish in one small Mason jar, developed a useful zero waste pathway, the “5Rs”: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot – in this order.

  1. Refuse – First, refuse what you do not need. Saying no to plastic-wrapped products, freebies, cheap and unsustainable products.

  2. Reduce – Then, reduce what you need: the clothes you wear, the meat you eat, the beauty and cleaning products you use, the emails you keep, the appliances you use.

  3. Reuse – If you need to buy, avoid single use items, only buy reusable items, and make them last. Care for your items. Do not throw things away, instead reuse, repair, upcycle, or find someone who will - a friend, a charity – Use Freecycle, Gumtree, Emmaus to donate items.   

  4. Recycle – Recycle only comes fourth: recycle what you were not able to refuse, reduce or reuse.

  5. Rot – compost all food scraps, and get rich compost for your garden or house plants.


These 5Rs will impact the way you buy and you dispose of things. Other zero waste promoters added a 6th R, as “Remember”, to stress the importance of being clear about and remembering why you are trying to reduce your waste in the first place: having a sort of mantra that will remind you of your deepest values when you are tempted to let your new, improved habits slide.