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

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
Louis van Gaal at the Hawthorns prior to Manchester United's game against West Brom
football

Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture

News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past