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Recycling must be ‘last resort’ as Buy Nothing New Month begins

The majority of Britons mistakenly believe sorting their rubbish into separate streams for circular reuse is ‘waste prevention. Now a new campaign asks the public to think more realistically, curb spending and save money. 

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According to Keep Britain Tidy, a recent YouGov poll conducted on behalf of the charity has found that 68% of UK respondents believe recycling is the best thing they can do to reduce the environmental footprint of items they buy. Meanwhile, 85% consider this to be a proven method of cutting down on the amount which is thrown away.

While it may be true that recycling and the circular economy can reduce domestic waste footprints, such processes come with their own environmental issues. Resources are consumed not only in the original production of items, but also at the stage during which they are prepared for reuse, meaning that even if we are recycling the vast majority of what we throw away, there is still a significant ecological cost that must be addressed. 

Running from 1st to 31st January 2024, Buy Nothing New Month asks the public to acknowledge this situation and change behaviours. By opting not to purchase new items and instead repair, recover and reuse those they already have, footprints can be slashed and new habits – which can, in the long run, have a huge positive impact on environment and climate – become the norm. 

‘It’s time to connect the dots. Buying new things has an impact on the environment,’ said Allison Ogden-Newton, OBE, Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy. ‘To tackle the damage done to the planet by our excessive consumption, the focus needs to shift from mindlessly throwing things away to thinking about what we buy in the first place and what we do with things we no longer want or need.

‘58% of UK adults agreed they are concerned about the carbon footprint of their purchases, and so our award-winning Buy Nothing New Month campaign is the perfect time to stop and consider whether we really need something new,’ she continued. ‘We need to stop kidding ourselves that recycling is a solution – it’s a last resort.’

More on recycling:

Closing loops: Recycling strategies to save the planet in 2024

Local authority landfill rates increasing as recycling efforts plateau

What does ‘Simpler Recycling’ actually mean?

Image: Andersen Jensen

 

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