The 7Rs of Sustainability

Ways in which we can all reduce our impact on the planet


So here is where we can all start: the 7Rs of sustainability. Well, when we started looking we began to see so many more ways! Here’s a starter…

We are not helpless. If enough people take a small step and continue to do so, it will move mountains. If people join up and work together, we become powerful.

Save money, save time, save effort and reduce what you buy. Before you buy, ask yourself do you really need another pair of shoes, the latest fashionable gadget, that snazzy new top? How much food do you throw away? So many of us are guilty of making impulse purchases that we don’t use, or make enough use of and then throw out.

Buying local often reduces the carbon footprint, is less intensive on the environment and helps local farmers and producers. A healthy local economy helps us all.


Extend an item’s life by reusing the item until it gives up completely (or is no longer safe). Do you really have to have the latest model? Why not be a re-user and buy second-hand?You can save a fortune – and help save the Earth.

This is different from repurpose because you are using the item for its original purpose (eg. reusing a bottle, packaging box, etc). Whereas when you repurpose, you are using the item for a new purpose.


If you are unsure about items, Surrey Environmental Partnership ‘What to do with an item‘ search can give helpful advice and links. Recycle Now is also a great resource.

When it comes to recycling, Mole Valley District Council has good recycling facilities and services. But there is so much more we can do.

Here’s a bit of fun for children and all those who are young at heart – try the recycle right game!

You can tell what type of plastic something is by the number inside the recycling sign. It’s usually at the bottom or back of the container. Here’s a useful blog about plastic recycling.


Think differently – instead of extract, take, use, dispose…do something better. Better for you, better for the planet, better for your local community and better for your local economy. If many of us did this – we could create huge change for the better.

Here are some thoughts…

Do you need to own a car? MVDC has information about green travel. Car clubs are expanding across Surrey: hire a car when you need one or walk or cycle instead. If a car is constantly sitting on your drive you could save a fortune! You can hire an electric bike.

Do you have to buy on the internet? Buying local reduces the carbon footprint, helps local farmers and businesses and helps communities to thrive.

Do you keep your house so warm that you can wear a t-shirt indoors. Turning the thermostat down and putting on a jumper can save money and uses less energy.


Repurposing is one of the best Rs of sustainability. Once something has been used up, instead of throwing it straight into the waste bin, see if you can repurpose it and use it for something else (eg. repurpose waste paper into note pads, waste material into new cloths, etc). This will prevent perfectly good items from going to landfill or being incinerated.

Here are some more ideas…

2litre plastic bottles: punch holes in the sides, put into a plant tub and fill with water to create an automatic watering system.

Jam-jars make great candle-lights especially if you paint them. Or use them as trendy glasses, cups or vases.

An old tyre is great for growing food and flowers in. What else can you repurpose?


These days we are bombarded with free stuff. Extra napkins at fast food restaurants, business cards, pens and so much more. More often than not we take these items home then throw them straight in the bin. Avoid creating that extra waste by not accepting these free items. If you are confident that you will use it, then accept it. Otherwise, politely decline and move on.

Refuse junk mail: Royal Mail Door to Door Opt out form.

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Look to move to renewables; solar power, electric cars, 100% renewable energy, LED lighting, ect. Check out your carbon footprint and look to reduce it. Look to use renewable materials, instead of ones that deplete the planet’s resources.


Another way to extend the life spam of an item is to repair it if it breaks. There are so many businesses who will repair items if you don’t know how to repair them yourself. Plus, it is often much cheaper to repair an item than to buy a new one. We have an excellent repair café locally.

Here’s a final thought to get you thinking…

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