Ways to save the environment – Reducing, Reusing and Recycling at HOME

I have always been someone who’s always striving not to waste things or throw items away unless it really is of no use to me anymore. My mum calls me a karang guni (Rag-and-bone) woman, so nowadays I would make sure that I don’t buy things that I would have no use for in future. Why buy new things and use them once and then throw them away? The amount of money and time spent to make an item just to use them only once, to me is way stupid. I know factories can create jobs for others, but this is just not good for the environment.

According to NEA Singapore’s website, “In 2008, Singapore produced 2.63 million tonnes of incinerable solid waste, which is enough to fill 890 football fields to the height of an average person!”

I’m not sure about you, but I feel that we are generating way too much waste.

I believe that everyone has the power to do a part to the environment and I am going to start by writing this entry, and hopefully more people will take note of the activities that we can do to help reduce waste and to help do your part to save the environment. Some of these activities even allows you to help others! And think about it, we all live on this earth so why not help make this earth sustainable for everyone (which includes yourself).

Note that this list is non-exhaustive and for Singapore only. Feel free to comment if you have more to share!

I decided to split this article into 3 parts – Home, at NUS and at work! Stay tuned for the next 2 parts!

At home
Paper: Reuse paper that you have so that both sides are used instead of only one side. My sister and I would once in a while sort out paper/documents (non-confidential ones of course) which are only used on one side, and keep them near where the printer is. Instead of using new printing paper when we print, we would first use these used paper first.

Not only does this save the environment, it helps save money too!

Newspapers: There are so many ways to reuse or recycle newspapers but I notice that most people would just throw newspapers away into bins without reusing them.

eHow.com gives some really good ideas on how to reuse newspapers!

Some of them are:
1. Using old newspapers to clean windows/glass.
2. Using them to pack materials (like glass).

One other way that my family and I do is that we use old newspapers to absorb water in wet shoes and for us to put food waste (e.g. peeled prawn shells, peanut shells, etc). I recently watched this program on TV which teaches us that we can use newspapers to line cupboards to absorb moisture and make cupboards less damp.

Recycling points are also now very common in neighbourhoods in Singapore and just bring your newspapers there to recycle! Here’s a list (in PDF) provided by NEA where you can send your old newspapers to.

Envelopes: Reuse them! How do you reuse envelopes you might ask. Well, what my mum does (we pass all used/opened letter envelopes to her) is that she would write her shopping list or to-do list on these envelopes instead of using new note pads or paper for these lists.

Another way my mum reuses them is by placing my sister’s and my monthly allowance into the envelope and then handing us the money at the beginning of each month.

Printer ink: I just found out about this a few months back at NUS – printer ink cartridges can be recycled! (look at the list in the NUS post that’s coming soon!)

I did some Googling and found out that there are some organisations in Singapore that collects and recycles printing cartridges (and other computer equipments as well). NEA has compiled a list that can be viewed here: (including a list of recycling collection centres and bins) http://www.nea.gov.sg/cms/rcd/locations/map.html

Plastic/Paper Bags: Not sure if everyone does this, but reusing plastic/paper bags has been something that I’ve learnt since I was young. Whenever my Mum buys groceries, my sister and I would help by taking out the groceries and keeping the plastic bags somewhere.

We used to keep them in a really big plastic bag, but after we visited my uncle’s new place, we realised that there’s this thing from IKEA called the plastic bag dispenser. (Not advertising for them)

How do you reuse them? I can think of so many! To line your trash bin, to put lunch boxes in (in case the food leaks), to carry groceries, to put your wet umbrella/poncho, etc.

Paper bags are also good for carrying stuff when you go out. I’d also once read an article that teaches you how to use paper bags to wrap gifts for your friends. Most paper bags come in really nice designs too!

Of course, now they have what you call recycling bags that you can use. Do use them in order to reduce production of plastic bags and save the earth!

I’m sure you would be able to think of new ways to reduce, reuse or recycle these items and more! Feel free to share it here in the comments!

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