The Five Rs of Recycling

The Five Rs of Recycling

The Five R’s of Recycling


18 March 2018 is the first Global Recycling Day. The initiative launched at the 2015 World Recycling Convention by Ranjit S. Baxi, president of the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR). The date is symbolic as it marks the 70th birthday of BIR.

We only have one Earth, and with the global population already nearing 8 billion we are already using more resources than what is available. Currently, we need 1.7 piles of earth to sustain the current population. What this means is the current population level is three times the sustainable level.

What can we do to reduce our consumption and not waste the rare resources we have? We start with recycling. The amount of energy that goes into producing new, virgin plastics is enormous. Then there is the issue of waste and pollution. Every day we are seeing more videos of oceans covered in plastics, sea life harmed by plastics and landfills overflowing.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” is a well-known quote by Mahatma Gandhi. Be conscious of what you are doing and the role you are playing in the use and misuse of our beautiful planet. Start small. Start today. Do it daily. Small actions daily result in significant changes. Encourage your family and friends to start as well. Let’s start a recycling revolution.

Here are some basics about recycling and a few tips that you can start applying.

5 Rs of recycling:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Repurpose
  • Recycle


  • Refuse to buy products that are over-packaged or have unnecessary packaging
  • Refuse the plastic straw
  • What about the freebies that you often get? What do you do with them? If we refuse them maybe companies will rethink their marketing strategy with these?


  • Reduce the amount of tin foil you use when cooking. Do you need to use foil? Can it be baked in an oven dish with a suitable lid instead?
  • Don’t use all the cling wrap along the perforated lines. Cut what you need rather than have extra that is not necessary. I would love it if the makers would do away with the perforated one and go back to the old box that you cut what you need.
  • Why did they do away with it? Because you probably use more than you need, by buying these products you are building their profit. Even if they don’t change the way they make it, you can change the way you use it.
  • Buy long life milk in the plastic bottle rather than the carton. This has a better chance of being recycled and is easier to recycle. Although companies say they make their containers from recycled packaging, the packaging holds too many layers to be recycled. They need to separate the layers before recycling, so even if it is recyclable, it is not green and uses a lot of energy versus the plastic bottle recycling.


  • Your shampoo bottle and face cream jar have a high likelihood of not being recycled. The residual contents cannot be cleaned efficiently in high volume recycling plants. They may also be made from a mix of plastics making it difficult to recycle. They can be recycled in small volumes for plywood applications.
  • The nest option is to reuse them instead. Clean them thoroughly with ordinary dishwashing liquid, or wash them along with your dishes to save water. Keep them aside for when you craft cosmetics at home. Then you have beautiful packaging ready to use.
  • Reuse wrapping paper. Don’t rip the gift open. Open it slowly, and you can reuse it for a smaller gift. You will only have small offcuts instead of a massive sheet of paper.


  • This is a significant trend that is taking off. From stronger plastic bags that you can buy in the supermarkets, which are made from recycled plastic and made into something useful.
  • Material offcuts are also becoming an issue, but now people are turning them into trendy handbags.
  • Tap into your creative self and make something out of old plastic bags. You can crochet them into placemats, or even make a dog bed with them.
  • You can also make stunning bracelets or necklaces from brightly coloured detergent bottles. Cut out shapes and string them together. Get some brass chain and mix them with some beads for a unique creation.


  • Recycle as much as you can. You will be amazed at how much your weekly trash reduces.
  • Even if you don’t know where to take your plastics, at least clean them and separate them in your bin by putting them into a separate bag. Then the trolley-entrepreneurs will take it and at least earn a little from it. They don’t have to go through your entire bin, give them some dignity and separate it. They will also take aluminum and tin cans.
  • Find out if you have a Mondi Paper pick up in your area and collect all your paper in the bag supplied.
  • Make your compost with food waste from fruit and vegetables. Small compost makers are available at most hardware stores.
  • Visit to find your nearest recycler of various materials.
  • Most PikitUp depots recycle, find out if your nearest one has the separate bins.


What creative projects have thought up? Does your neighborhood have any exciting initiatives? Share your stories, tips, and ideas. We love hearing from you.

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