I recently went to see Billy Elliott at the theatre. It’s a great play and there were some amazing performances, but one thing kept distracting me – the size of the bin in the kitchen. I’m not talking a super-duper stainless steel job that you can fit an entire family in as well as their rubbish, I’m talking a small bin not even as big as a wastepaper bin.
What struck me about this tiny bin was how our habits have changed. Back in the 1970s when Billy Elliott was set, small bins were the norm. We didn’t have large bins because we didn’t have lots of packaging, and more importantly we didn’t throw things away with the same aplomb that we do now. In those days, the weekly meals were planned in advance and our parents only bought enough food to feed us and every little part of the meal was reused. Waste was an anathema: we reused things.
Nowadays we talk about reusing, recycling and re-everything – but we seem to have missed a point somewhere. We expect reusing and recycling to be done for us. We ship our waste off for others to dispose of, when a lot of what we throw away we could be reusing, or upcycling – ourselves.
For those of you new to the term, upcycling means taking something and giving it a new purpose. Like taking an old sweatshirt and turning it into a hot water bottle cover, or turning a plastic water bottle into a cloche for your seeds, or a load of metal ring pulls into a handbag. There are lots of things we can do with our rubbish, if we just take a bit of time to think about how, and a little bit of time indulging our making streaks.
So next time you go to throw something away, think about it. Ask yourself – Can I reuse it? Can I use it for another purpose? Can I tart it up a bit? Get your thinking caps on and create new ideas - not waste
Let’s all take the pledge to start thinking outside the bin!