Why reducing our consumption is more important than recycling

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Every year we throw away a massive 23 million metric tonnes of waste in the UK.

This astonishing amount of rubbish is generated partly because 99 percent of the stuff we consume goes into the landfill within six months and partly because recycling services are still not widely available.

It takes effort, money, and plenty of natural resources to create the products and costs even more to dispose of them.

Year after year, the Earth yields billions of tons of natural resources but, at some point, in the – not too distant – future, these resources will run out.

That is why we must think again about what we throw away – seeing it not as a waste but as an opportunity.

Source: https://www.instagram.com/storyofstuff/

Here are some reasons to consider for reducing your consumption:

To save money

  • By using less new stuff and reusing what we already have, we make our purchases work harder.
  • Individually wrapped items and smaller containers are particularly wasteful and more expensive than family packs.
  • By avoiding – where possible -disposable items, we buy better quality products which we can keep re-using for longer and save money in the long run.

Reduced consumption means reduced waste

Food waste

Half of the food we throw away is perfectly good to eat.

Therefore, by keeping it out of the bin, we are protecting the environment and our pockets at the same time.

When we consciously avoid purchasing surplus food, we save natural resources and we reduce household waste costs.


A huge amount of what goes into our recycling bins is not recyclable from an economic point of view.

Increasingly, councils have to dispose of many items because there is not enough value in the materials to make them worth recycling.

Recycling is a business which means it is profitable only if there is a demand in the market for recycled products.

Quite often, it is cheaper to use virgin supplies than it is to use recycled materials.

This is why recycling is not an indefinitely sustainable option.

It may be better than diverting everything in the landfill, but for materials like plastics, we can only recycle them a limited number of times.

There is also a lot of confusion amongst consumers about what each council can recycle depending on their available facilities.

To conserve natural resources

While most of the Earth’s resources are renewable, over-consumption and the increasing population put a strain on those resources’ distribution processes.

Living with less means that the future generations will be able to have their share in the future.

The Earth’s population will keep growing, and eventually, it will be less of an option for us and more of a necessity to conserve our planet’s natural resources.

Reducing our consumption is beneficial for people and the environment.

In most cases, doing so doesn’t cost extra – on the contrary, we can save money in the long run.

It takes valuable resources to create all of the things we use. By striving to waste less food, fuel and energy, we can reduce our impact on the environment.

While something like recycling may not have an immediate effect, by reducing our consumption, we help to slow down the production of new things every day.

If you think about it, all the things we ever need already exists! Therefore, re-using what we have or sourcing used items is the most sustainable way to slow down the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources.

Featured image by pexels.com

Elena Daniilidou

Elena is an ethical vegan and minimalist advocating for sustainable and slow living.

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