Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Rot (compost)

First things first! Arm yourself with a reusable water bottle, a couple of large grocery bags for shopping or a trolley bag, a few cloth bags and reusable jars and bottles.


1. Refuse, Refuse, Refuse

Refuse single use plastics –

Disposable plastics are the greatest source of plastic pollution. Plastic bags, straws, bottles, utensils, lids, cups and so many others offer a small convenience but remain forever.

Refuse to use Cling Film – Parchment paper is an excellent substitute to the ubiquitous stretch plastic wrap we have been told is essential for cooking and preserving foods.  If you Care Parchment Paper is available in the UK


China recycling plastic


in the UK, around 2.5bn plastic cups go to landfills each year – Carry re-usable cups or re-usable water bottles with you.

Plastic Pollution Coalition have more tips click here



Shower Gels and shampoos in single use plastic containers.

lushEver thought how many plastic bottles you get through just washing yourself! Consider using bar soaps – plenty of these in the shops,  and shampoo bars, like the ones sold in LUSH in the Maltings, St Albans – One bar does for 60 shampoos!

Refuse to use chemical based cleaners – see Household Cleaning for home-made cleaners.

Many people are switching to homemade cleaners to reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals. Inexpensive ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and dish soap often clean just as well as store-bought products. You can find more information about non-toxic cleaners at

  • Look for products that list all their ingredients. Generally, fewer ingredients are better.
  • Use single-ingredient products (baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt) that serve several functions.
  • Choose products  from plant-based materials like citrus, seed, vegetables, herbs or pine oils.
  • Choose products with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are toxic chemicals that are released into the air.
  • Choose chlorine-free products.
  • Choose water-based glues, adhesives and paints.
  • A product with the signal word Caution on its label is less hazardous than a product with the signal word Warning, Danger or Poison.

2. Reduce, Reduce, Reduce!

Reduce the amount of new things that you buy, rethink what you need, and how it will eventually be re-used, re-cycled or composted.

Ecoballs are a way to reduce the use of detergent in your washing and reduce packaging Ecoballs – click here to buy them

Kitchen food caddy: instead of buying replacement food caddy liners use newspaper or the brown paper sent out as padding within parcels (particularly Amazon ones). See how to make your own liner:-

FoodWasteLiningYourKitchenBucketDiagramBuy the ‘Bio’ brand of cleaning products also available  from Oxfam. This brand is made in the UK and the plastic bottles are fully recyclable. The washing-up liquid smells of lavender!




teapotGet a teapot and start brewing up – ever wondered why we gave up using tea-leaves – cheaper by far! Or buy teabags that do not contain inner foil to keep bags ‘fresh’. Dorset teabags are also, as their name suggests, made in the UK, so fewer air miles!

Pets – Are you a dog owner? Instead of spending money on dog poo bags use irritating plastic packaging that you can’t recycle (such as ebay bags or toilet roll packaging).  Harrington’s dry dog food is packaged in a thick outer layer of paper which can be separated from the thin layer of plastic inside. It has no additives and is also made in Yorkshire.

3. Re-use, Re-use, Re-use!

If you are a shop owner or stall holder choose to give customers strong paper bags. If you have to use plastic bags source them from Epi-Global  who say their products ‘do not leave harmful or toxic residues to the environment’.

  • Using plastic freezer bags? Don’t throw them away after one use; wash them through and use again. Parchment paper can be washed and re-used for baking.
  • Cloths for washing can be re-used, rather than paper towels or plastic coated wipes that you throw away after use.
  • Brown paper bags for groceries can be re-used as sandwich bags, or to collect groceries next time you’re in the market.
  • Re-use furniture that others throw away

4. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

Items harder to recycle with the council but you can!

Batteries – recyling points in St Albans

  • Argos
    WH Smith
    Robert Dyas

By law any place that sells/ supply 32kg or more of portable batteries per year  should have somewhere for you to recycle them on the premises.

Electrical items that work can be taken to Emmaus, along with other items such as household furniture (which they can repair in their furniture workshop) toys, books, bikes, backpacks and toiletries. Hill End Lane Shop open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm

plasaticbagsdiscardPlastic bags can be donated to charity shops to be used again.The following local shops all re-cycle bags:

Grove House charity shop (Southdown, Harpenden)

Age UK (Harpenden)

Keech Hospice and Oxfam (St Albans city centre only)

Bubble wrap, tissue paper, newspapers, rubber bands, pens, cellotape and unused envelopes  can be used again by the Keech Hospice shop and  Oxfam (on Hatfield Road, St Albans)

Keech Hospice Shops:21 High Street, St Albans, Herts AL3 4EH and 12-13 Bowers Parade, High Street, Harpenden, AL5 2SH

Plastic sacks, such as empty compost and manure bags, and plastic bags, are gratefully accepted by Carpenters Nursery (Sandridge Road, St Albans).  Carpenters also grows vegetables – locally – so the transport costs are minimal.

Coat hangers and safety pins can be taken back to the dry-cleaners. The plastic covers can be used as bin liners, if you tie a knot in one end!

Wood = doors, fencing, sheds, pallets, floor boards, wooden furniture etc. can be recycled by St Albans Wood Recycling  which is a not-for-profit social enterprise.

Lost one gold or silver earring? Raise money for charity by sending any unwanted jewellery to Alzheimers Uk  via free post

Got small amounts of confidential waste? Rip it up and put it in your compost bin. The worms will get to it before anyone else can!

Ask plant stall holders at markets stalls if they will take your old plastic plant pots.

Council Recycling

Remember to use the council recycling centres for re-usable furniture – they can sell it on, electrical items that have had their day, plastic bags, wood, newspapers, clothes and shoes, garden waste and Tetra-packs (Waitrose St Albans and see link above for Tetra-pack recycling in Marshalwick and Harpenden) For information on local recycling click here

5. Rot (compost) the rest!

What are you waiting for? Get composting today!

composterHertfordshire Waste Partnership has teamed up with to provide reduced priced environmental products such as home compost bins, water butts and more. Get your compost bins for your garden click here

More Resources

See council website for great resources on waste

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