By Elizabeth Lee
October is national reuse month when people are encouraged to let their imaginations run wild and re-create a previously loved piece of furniture, clothing or other articles.
This might sound like stepping back in time to when lack of money meant that people held on to things for longer, passed on things they no longer needed and recycled everything from curtains to car parts, but this campaign is targeted at a generation that grew up in a consumer culture that didn’t consider where things came from or went to after their use.
The excess purchasing puts enormous pressure on declining natural resources and is a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions due to the need to extract raw materials, manufacture and distribute new stuff.
During the month of October, we are reminded to have a look at our ever increasing throw away lifestyle and see how we can make some simple changes that will not only have a positive impact on our planet but will benefit your bank balance too.
If you are looking for some inspiration, why not log on to www.mywaste.ie/reuse-month-events where you can access free online workshops covering everything from reusing old pallets, to creative furniture upcycling and revamping your home workspace. There is even a workshop for the generation who have no idea how to replace a button on a shirt or turn up a hem on a pair of jeans.
“Learning to reuse as part of our daily lifestyle needs a change of mindset” says Orla Barrett, Senior Engineer with Carlow County Council. “We get caught up in the consumerism lifestyle and the commercial marketing push. We buy and buy more stuff and we forget to take a breath and think about the environmental and economic cost of filling every space in our homes with products that we simply had to have. Stuff that we think we need to be on trend, to make our life easier and to transform our lives. Reuse can be as simple as ensuring to use your reusable water bottle”, she adds, “we can all take steps to play our part to make a positive.”
“Learning to reuse and repair is a key component in strengthening the circular economy and is essential to sustaining our local business ” says Jannette O Brien, Environmental Awareness Officer at Carlow County Council. “There are lots of online workshops and podcasts which can be accessed free on www.mywaste.ie/reuse-month-events/ throughout the month of October. You can learn fashion alteration techniques, try your hand at creative furniture upcycling or even find out how to make flower planters and garden benches from reused pallets.”
Top tips for reuse month are:
Consider using reusable products – You can reuse bags, containers and lots of other items. Some of the most popular are reusable drinking bottles and coffee cups. We in Ireland now produce nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use, after which it is thrown away. More than eight million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.
Maintain and repair durable products – Have a look and do your homework when you are buying large purchases, such as appliances and televisions. Find out which are the most energy efficient, durable, and repairable locally.
Borrow, rent and share – Many of us have tools and other items that we don’t use on a regular basis. Have you considered sharing them with neighbours and friends? Lots of resident associations have set up a shared system to purchase and use power tools, larger gardening equipment etc.
Sell or donate – We often have lots of perfectly good items in our homes that we no longer need or want. Whether its’ clothing that we have outgrown, or furniture that doesn’t match the new colour scheme, these items have lots of good shelf life left in them and will be appreciated by a new owner. If you don’t want to sell the items, charity shops and organisations are always grateful for donations, other options include the local freecycle or swap shop pages on social media.
Keep an eye out for fantastic Carlow-based upcycling and reuse ideas as the winners of Carlow County Councils Isolation Creation competition is announced during the month.