Zero Waste – the basics

Bristol Waste recycling crew member

All you need to know about zero waste basics

Get the zero waste basics down now before you start thinking about what you can do to cut down on the waste and recycling you produce.

Refresh what you already know about managing your waste and what you currently produce. You can then see if there are any easy wins to reduce your waste.

Get to grips with the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

The three R’s come from the waste hierarchy which shows the best ways to deal with waste. To be waste-savvy think about the hierarchy when you make choices.

You should be aiming to use the options at the top of the hierarchy as much as possible.

Refuse: Say “no” to things you don’t need, like a straw in your drink or a plastic bag for your shopping.

Reduce: Before you buy anything ask yourself “do I really need it?”, “do I already have something that could do the job?”, “could I make/grow it myself?” and “could I borrow or rent what I need?”

Reuse: Before you throw something away or put it in the recycling, could it be used again by yourself or someone else? Could it be made into something else?

Repair: If it’s broken, could it be fixed?

Rot: Will the thing you need to throw away rot? Some foods and grass/garden waste can be composted if you have outdoor space at home.

Recycle: Before you throw something away check if it can be recycled at home or at one of Bristol’s Recycling Centres. When you buy something, think about if the packaging is recyclable. If not, is there a recyclable or unpackaged alternative?

Disposal: Aim to only throw things away if none of the other options are possible.

Recycling in Bristol

In Bristol there are lots of options for recycling. We provide an extensive kerbside recycling service for houses and small blocks of flats. Larger blocks of flats have Mini Recycling Centres (MRCs). We also have Recycling Centres where you can recycle and reuse many more materials. You can find out more on our household webpages.

Other options

TerraCycle collect hard-to-recycle waste products such as pens, pet food pouches, contact lenses, toothbrushes and crisp packets. In Bristol there are many TerraCycle community drop-off locations, which you can find by looking on their programme pages.

Know what you waste

Before you make any changes, it’s a good idea to think about what you already waste. Are there common items that end up in your bin each week which you could try to reduce? Or are there some items which could be recycled? Knowing what you waste can really help in reducing the amount and result in more conscious choices when bringing things into your home.

Activity: Become a detective and carry out a “bin-vestigation” – an investigation into the contents of your bin. Find out exactly what you are throwing away, and if any of it could be reduced, reused or recycled. We’ve put together handy instructions and a recording sheet to help get you started.

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