Julia Stephenson: Green Goddess

A A A

I'm fed up with everyone banging on about recycling like it's the ne plus ultra of green living. In the old days there was a green mantra, "reduce, reuse and recycle", but the "reduce and reuse" bit seems to have been jettisoned. Recycling is an extravagant use of resources. The energy expended to make a glass bottle or plastic cup, using it once then destroying it again to reassemble as exactly the same product, is a vastly extravagant use of energy.

Many of our recyclables now get shipped to developing countries where the underpaid labour force, often made up of children, risk their health sorting through our toxic waste mountain for us.

Even in the dark days, when my idea of being green was to buy organic blueberries out of season from Tesco, I was always a rubbish Nazi.

It was heaven living in Davos, Switzerland, which has a satisfyingly draconian method of dealing with rubbish. No, not a firing squad for those who recycle envelopes without removing the plastic windows first, but by making it illegal to throw away rubbish in anything but special bags costing 1Sfr.

And although people feel a warm glow as they fill their car boots with old bottles and papers and go to the bottle bank, an unknown quantity will end up in landfill. For while 80 per cent of people recycle at least one type of waste regularly, a paltry 11 per cent actually buy recycled products. This means that there just isn't the market for much of what we diligently recycle.

To close the recycling loop it's vital to buy as many recycled products as possible. Kitchen paper, toilet roll, envelopes and computer copy paper, for example, are now easy to buy. Although it's important to look after our bottoms, we don't need to use virgin pulp paper on them. The recycled stuff does the job just as effectively and it won't give you haemorrhoids, as an anally retentive commentator pointed out on national television last week.

To close the loop, buy recycled glass products, vintage/second-hand clothes, and furniture from auctions to save the carbon emissions and environmental toxins created from making new furniture.

EBay is very eco-friendly, giving people hours of pleasure while keeping our useless junk endlessly circulating and out of landfill.

If you can't sell something, give it away on www.freecycle.org, an organisation that puts people and unwanted stuff in touch with each other.

This is a great idea, but luckily my saintly cleaner Mrs Pippolata is a one-woman freecycle outlet and happily takes everything off my hands. I suspect she has her own "retail outlets" - or maybe she's sticking it all on eBay too. Whatever, it's fine by me.

I don't want to put you off recycling, just put the emphasis on reducing and reusing what we have.

Next week I'll pass on some tips to help you cut down your rubbish mountain and become more healthy and beautiful while saving reams of money.

www.recycle-more.org

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable