Julia Stephenson: Green Goddess

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The Independent Online

Last week I was ranting about why we must put the emphasis on re-using and reducing rather than assuming that recycling is the answer (it's an extravagant use of resources). I promised tips to help us re-use and reduce what we throw out so we don't need to recycle so much.

I also promised these would help you save money and time, and that they would make you more beautiful, though I think the latter may have been an extravagant authoress's hyperbole. At a pinch, they will at least guarantee a warm glow of goodness that will add a glow to the complexion as lovely as any expensive beauty cream.

Over 70 per cent of people recycle bottles and, although this is better than sticking them in landfill, the amount of energy used to recycle glass is vast. Also, because supply outstrips demand (although we can change this if we buy more recycled-glass products), some bottles will still end up in landfill.

Buying water in bottles is an environmental nightmare. The UK has pretty high standards of water, and your l'eau de tap is probably as good as the poncey stuff you're shelling out a fortune for. The bottles look swanky (however, beware plastic ones which may leak carcinogens into the water) but that doesn't mean the water is much good.

Water zealots and those who live where water is fluoridated may like to invest in a water filter. I've removed the one I used to favour and am replacing it with one from www.freshwaterfilter.com. If only the filter turned water into wine or, even better, champagne, I'd have no bottles at all.

Britvic is apparently the only large drinks company still taking away bottles to be refilled, so it must be the eco-drinker's choice. Donnachadh, my eco coach, points out that it's best to stick to cider and beer in kegs.

Don't chuck out free DVDs. If they aren't good enough for the charity shop, send them to The Laundry for recycling. You can send old laser jet cartridges to Farplace Animal Rescue ( www.farplace.co.uk) which uses them to raise funds.

Donnachadh also recommends prolonging the life of your greying smalls by dyeing them. Cotton is a toxic crop and the less we buy the better. But if your smalls have really had it - droopy grey bras won't do anything for the planet's morale - take them to a Red Cross shop, which makes them into low-grade cleaning cloths and furniture stuffing.

It can't be easy living with a rubbish Nazi, and S, who is gradually weaning himself off his wasteful ways (only yesterday I caught him red-handed, chucking an envelope in the recycling bin without removing the plastic window first), insists my initials stand for Joseph Stalin. But as I tell him, someone has to keep standards up around here.

The Laundry CD recycling ( www.thelaundry.biz), Lauren Dean, London Recycling, 4d North Crescent, Cody Road, London E16 4TG

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