What does recycling mean to you?


When someone talks about recycling, do you think about what bin you are going to put your waste into and separating cardboard from glass? “Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects” Or, do you think about how you personally can reuse and recycle what you already have? Here Lorraine Catt,  Transformation & Shared Services Director, shares her diary from a week in the life of someone who (tries to!) convert waste into resources.

Friday - My day off, so my son and I walk into town to hunt through the charity shops as we get ready for world book day. We are not successful – feeling slightly panicked, I publish a post on Facebook to see if anyone has an old school pinafore we could use for my daughter.

I’m in luck – my neighbour comes up trumps!

Saturday  - We cut up an old white duvet cover and make it into an apron and bonnet. 

Sunday - We received our latest electricity bill– and despite already being on a green tariff, I am horrified by the price increase. My husband enquires about solar panels – needless to say, I think we’re not the only ones thinking of doing this. At the time of writing, we are still waiting to hear back. 

Monday - Castle building at school this week – we have been asked to save our recycling and send it in for a project. We send in an empty Frosties box, an Amazon box and four Fruit Shoot bottles. 

When I started becoming more mindful about recycling, I tried really hard not to buy certain things such as Fruit Shoots because of the plastic bottles, especially when I could make up squash from concentrate. However, during these last few years I have been kinder to myself and am just more mindful about what we can reuse or do without, so I brought the fruit shoots as a treat knowing they would make great turrets on the castle.

Tuesday - Today some clothes arrived that I bought from an Instagram live last week. I paid £18 for a new tunic dress, t-shirt and body. Unfortunately, the tunic doesn’t fit, but neither does a lot of clothing that we buy online anyway. I will sell it on or repurpose it for my next project.

I get more of a buzz from finding something second-hand in my size than I do walking into a shop and buying new!

Wednesday -We have a birthday in the house today – my daughter is turning six. She asked for a desk, and I found a traditional school desk and chair in the charity shop, Emmaus. I fully intended to sand it and paint it to restore its full beauty, however life got in the way and I didn’t get round to it. As it happens, she loves it brown and commented on it smelling old and reminding her of her grandparents’ house.

For my son’s birthday, we brought an old butler sink and made a ‘mud kitchen’ using  a garden pallet. This even won a prize in a local environment competition.

We still get them a new gift, and they also get a balloon –but it’s one balloon, rather than a whole balloon arch, and we will take this to her party at the weekend. 

Thursday - World Book Day – Introducing Cinderella – pre-ball, complete with distressed school pinafore, apron and bonnet made from an old duvet cover and a blue ribbon in her hair from yesterday’s presents.

Friday -Not much to report today – the castle artwork came home from school and I’ve spent some time online looking at renting an outfit for a wedding we have next week.

Saturday - Birthday Party Day – the party bags are all recyclable; we brought bee bags with flower seeds, wax candles, pencils and a notebook. Not a piece of plastic in sight and all waste is recyclable! Pass the parcel is also wrapped in brown paper. 

Top tips 

Plan in advance – I bought the desk in January and stored it at my mum’s house.

Ask around – someone’s rubbish is another’s treasure – the school pinafore had been outgrown by my neighbour’s daughter.

Limit plastic – where you can, such as the party bags.

No one is perfect – Should I beat myself up because we bought a balloon and Fruit Shoots? No; everyone pulling together, doing what they can and being mindful in certain situations is going to have far greater impact than one perfect individual.

If you need something, rather than buying from new, such as Amazon or the local shop, think about other ways you can source and convert items using what you already have.