Every school child on the island is familiar with the “recycle triangle” which says we should “reduce, reuse and recycle”. But what we often don’t think about is that this is not a series of equal options but is actually a hierarchy. But what we often don’t think about is that this is not a series of equal options but is actually a hierarchy.

Instead of being written:

chasing_arrows

It should be written:

Reduce

Reuse

Recycle

It may seem obvious, but reducing the amount of stuff that we buy and use will reduce the resources used to manufacture the stuff, and therefore will reduce our impact on our environment. This is the most environmentally friendly choice. It is worth saying again: if you don’t buy something then you are not only not contributing to climate change and environmental damage, but you are also saving money! What a great decision!

Once you have finished with something then reuse it or pass it on, rather than throwing it away. Cut the legs off jeans to make shorts, use old jars to store beans or nails. There are several great stores in Bermuda which are helping us reuse including Orange Bay for wonderful furniture, and  “Dress for Success” a new store in St George’s which is making gently used business clothing affordable. Most schools offer second-hand uniforms, and of course you can find treasures to reuse at the Barn, the Bargain Basement and on E-moo. A relatively new option in Bermuda is “Freecycle.org”, an exchange network: check it out, the more people who join the better it works.

Recycle is the third and least desirable of the triangle – in Bermuda there are few materials which we can recycle: Tin, aluminum and glass is recycled for us by the Department of Waste management, and Guardian will recycle office paper. We get a lot of questions about why we don’t recycle plastic here: the truth is that plastics are not really recycled, but ‘downcycled’. It is not possible to make the same quality plastic out of waste plastic; so most plastic is recycled into a lower quality product like carpets or ‘plastic wood’. Less than 10% of plastics in the US are recycled, and the rest ends up in landfill or the ocean. Recycling plastic just isn’t an environmentally friendly option here, or in fact anywhere.

So this summer, Bermuda, enjoy the summer, the weather, the beaches, the reefs, and all the beautiful things we have for free rather than the latest consumer goods or convenience item. Let’s reduce what we buy – Greenrock is helping out in Hamilton with the new “Hydration Stations” (a Greenrock initiative sponsored by AES) so you don’t have to buy single use water bottles. Send us a photo of you and your water bottle next to the hydration station!

I have a great little poster next to my desk (if you recognize this and know where it comes from please let me know as I’d love to attribute it appropriately): the message is very powerful:

plastic-spoon

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more


Where to find Us

Suite 324, 48 Par-La-Ville Rd,
Hamilton HM11, Bermuda

Telephone: 1-441-747-ROCK (7625)
Email: info@greenrock.org
Website: www.greenrock.org