Reduce and reuse

Taking responsibility for our waste involves more than just recycling.

Cardboard with reduce reuse wording.

Reducing and re-using our waste, choosing 'greener' options or avoiding certain products, are all environmentally better ways of dealing with our waste.

The benefits are:

  • it helps to conserve limited raw materials and the energy required to extract them;
  • it reduces what we dispose of via landfill and prevents the environmental impacts of that waste.


Love food, hate waste

One third of all food purchased is thrown away. Visit love food hate waste for tips on storage and recipes to use up leftovers.


Shop smart

  • Make a list - only buy what you need!
  • Avoid over-packaged items.
  • Avoid disposables and choose items that can be used again.
  • Buy refills so you can refill containers. Use a water jug instead of buying bottled water.
  • Hire or borrow items that you rarely use.


Reduce your waste

Junk mail - Reduce junk mail by registering with the Mailing Preference Service (for free). Alternatively fix a polite notice to your door asking for no free newspapers or circulars.

Use reusable containers, for example lunch boxes and flasks, instead of using cling film and foil. Avoid individually packaged items.

To reduce paper usage, set printers and photocopiers to print documents double-sided. Use shredded paper for animal bedding or compost it at home.


Donate, exchange or sell unwanted items

  • Charity shops - Find new homes for unwanted clothes, books, furniture and quality bric-a-brac.
  • Furniture - Reuse schemes provide safe, clean, affordable furniture and household items to those who need it. For local information search the Hertfordshire Directory. National information can be found at the Furniture Recycling Network or Emmaus.
  • YMCA Charity Shops accept good quality second hand furniture and electrical items. Nearby shops include Knebworth, Letchworth, Hertford and Hemel Hempstead. The stores even operate a free van collection service for large items, ring 0300 3232 300 for more information.
  • The British Heart Foundation accept a wide range of second hand good quality items. They also operate a free furniture collection scheme. Visit the British Heart Foundation website for a list of acceptable items or to book a collection.
  • Scrapstore - Based in Welwyn Garden City, it provides access to a range of materials for use in arts and crafts. You can donate clean, safe materials.


Reuse household items

  • CDs - Old, unplayable CDs can be used as reflectors for gateposts or as bird scarers.
  • Worn or damaged clothes can be cut up and used as cleaning rags.
  • Send your old inkjet cartridges (no other type of cartridge is accepted) to The Red Cross Inkjet Appeal to be reused.


Buy 'recycled' - closing the loop

'Closing the loop' involves people buying recycled products. This is important because it makes recycling worthwhile. Buying recycled generates a demand, which in turn makes recyclable materials valuable. It increases the need for more materials to be collected and the facilities to reprocess them.


If you are unable to use the options above, your local recycling centre or bulky waste collection, there are also services such LoveJunk which can be used to find responsible waste collectors. 

The need for change

Landfill has become common practice, yet more responsible ways of managing waste are required. Spaces in which to bury waste are becoming scarce and the long-term environmental impacts regarding landfill are well known, such as the seepage of toxic liquids and gas. Also, we are wasting potential resources by burying them in the ground.

The Hertfordshire Waste Partnership (all of the councils in Hertfordshire) have developed a waste strategy for the county in view of current legislation, targets and financial penalties. This outlines plans to reduce waste growth and better manage the waste that is produced.