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​Precycling: What It Is And How You Can Do It

Ok, so you're already a recycling superstar, minimising the amount of waste you produce every day, and always remembering to separate your recyclables from your compost and other waste.

But what about stopping the flow of waste at its source: the point of purchase?

Choosing packaging-free options when you're shopping is called "precycling", and it's tipped to be the next big trend for people doing their best to live a sustainable life. In many ways, this is just a new term for something that planet-conscious people have been doing for decades, but by giving it a proper name, hopefully we can spread awareness about how important our consumer decision are when it comes to reducing the amount of waste that we produce.

Why you should precycle

It's all very well to recycle products and packaging when you no longer need them (recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator), but the recycling process actually requires a huge amount of energy and resources to successfully process waste into reusable paper pulp, plastic or glass.

As Treehugger points out, "It's no simple task to melt down all those bottles, and the plastic is usually degraded in the process and often can't be used for food-grade products again."

That's a baffling amount of steps (not to mention energy, water and other resources) to recycle just a few plastic bottles! Can you imagine how much energy it takes just to recycle the contents of your bottle bin?

"When it comes to minimising waste, recycling is too late. Precycling – where you buy items free from packaging – is a more effective way to reduce your carbon footprint."
- Nicola Heath

Keep recycling, but don't rely on it

To be clear, recycling is a fantastic way to keep resources in circulation, and is a much better option than sending recyclables to landfill. At the same time, it's important that we don't just rely on recycling to do all the work for us: we need to consider how we can make better consumer decisions to reduce ALL of our waste, including recyclables.

The Australian Government is already on board with the precycling movement: "By thinking about what you really need and refusing what you don't, giving items more than one life and disposing of rubbish thoughtfully, you can reduce waste and save money."

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What you can do

Examine the contents of your grocery trolley, pantry and home: what products have a lot of packaging associated with them? How could this be avoided or reduced?

Could you buy some items, such as flour or rolled oats, in bulk? Could you buy your fruit and vegetables with reusable produce bags?

Consider whether some items are really necessary for you to buy at all: could you make your own facial scrub instead of buying pre-packaged beauty products? Do you really need to buy shallots when you could regrow them from the roots in your own kitchen?

At the end of the day, be sure that you're making the best decisions from the choices available to you, and encourage those around you to avoid taking our planet for granted. These changes may seem small and insignificant, but together we can have a massive impact.

Here re some great resources to help you reduce the amount of waste in your life, today!

Images: Shutterstock

READ THIS NEXT: Are Farmers Markets & Food Stalls Better At Avoiding Waste Than Supermarkets?

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Steph Newman Former Social Media Assistant Suggest an article Send us an email

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