The four ‘R’s – September 2017


Welcome to our monthly theme for September 2017: The four 'R's. It's all about how we manage the huge problem of waste.

What are the four 'R's? Well, three of them are definitely:

REDUCE – simply use less stuff. 

REUSE – once a thing has been used, use it or the materials from which it is made again (and again).

RECYCLE – once a thing has been used, salvage the materials from which it was made, to make new things.


Depending upon whom you listen to, the fourth 'R' could be:

REFUSE – don't buy stuff in the first place (or at least don't buy stuff you don't need, and refuse to buy stuff that is wastefully produced). 

RECOVER – convert waste into resources (such as electricity, heat, compost & fuel). 

RETHINK – Consider the consequences of your actions and what impacts they will have on the environment. Be a conscious consumer and minimize your footprint on this Earth. 

REPAIR – often, things are thrown away because just one part is broken or not working. Note: the Worcester Repair Café is held monthly at the S.T.A.R.S centre, Stanley Road. This month, it's on Saturday 9th. 

Despite the confusion over the fourth 'R', the message is clear: let's all produce less waste. 

Is waste really a problem?

According to government statistics, the UK generates around 200 million tonnes of total waste each year. Nearly 60% of this was generated by construction, demolition and excavation, with households responsible for a further 14%. That's around 26 million tonnes of waste produced by households. Of that, about 44% is recycled ... the rest ends up in landfill or is illegally dumped (local authorities in England alone dealt with more than 900,000 fly-tipping incidents in 2016). 

Waste in landfill represents an environmental threat (harmful chemicals can leach into the land, water and the air) and also a waste of energy. Recycling reduces the amount of energy and water used in producing goods dramatically, and reduces the amount of material sent to landfill. Simply reusing or using less reduces the problem even more dramatically. 

Some inspiring videos


Useful links ...

Here are some links for you to investigate further: 

Let's Waste Less – in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Also their Facebook page
Wikipedia page about the UK's National Waste Strategy.
• The government's statistics on waste in the UK, December 2016. 
• Wastebuster is a not-for-profit social enterprise that aims to support schools to become sustainable, to empower children to change their environment and enable children to believe that they can make a difference to their world. 
• A straightforward guide on how to reduce the amount of waste you create, from Recycling Guide.