Refuse, Reduce, Re-use, Recycle!

The Inner West Mums are an environmentally conscious bunch. We can all be more sustainable, starting with the small decisions we make every day. Here are some ways you can help protect the environment by refusing, reducing, re-using and recycling. However, the list is not exhaustive. If you know of a simple way to minimise waste that is not included here, contact us and we will add it to the list!

  • Say no to single-use plastic bags. Make a conscious effort to remember your re-usable grocery bags whenever heading out to do the grocery shopping. For small purchases, stash a foldable bag inside your handbag. Also keep some re-usable bags in your car for those spontaneous ‘top-up’ shopping trips.
  • Say no to single-use plastic straws and cutlery. Bring your own re-usable straw cutlery instead.
  • Carry your own re-usable water bottle with you.
  • Takeaway coffee cups are rarely recycled due to the plastic inner lining. Choose a re-usable cup and prevent a staggering 3 billion single-use coffee cups from going to landfill in Australia annually! There are many stylish options available. And don’t forget a small version for baby cinos. Responsible Cafes has up-to-date listings of cafes which give a discount for bringing your own cup.
  • Buy fruit and vegetables loose or choose re-usable produce bags.
  • Bring your own containers to avoid unnecessary plastic when buying meat, seafood or deli items. The weight of the container will be deducted from the total.
  • When having takeaway, bring your own containers.
  • Pack leftovers and lunches in re-usable containers rather than using sandwich bags or cling wrap. Making or buying your own beeswax wraps is another option. Many schools have adopted a ‘naked food’ policy. Be sure to follow suit with your own lunches, picnics, etc.


  • Plan your family’s weekly meals. Before going to the shops, check your pantry,  fridge and freezer to avoid overbuying. When shopping, consider each purchase carefully. You’ll not only reduce waste, but you’ll save money too.
  • Before making new clothing and other household purchases, consider whether a good-quality second-hand item would suit. There are many websites and Facebook groups for buying, swapping and paying it forward, and you can often source items in brand-new or excellent used condition.
  • Get acquainted with your local library. There are even toy libraries, such as Glebe Library, allowing you to borrow educational toys, puzzles and other games.
  • Buy items in bulk to reduce packaging waste. Choose products, such as detergent, in concentrated form. Avoid products with excess packaging.
  • Choose to grind your own coffee beans over capsules for the home.


  • Avoid single-use, disposable items. Consider using cloth nappies, for example. Nappy library services will enable you to try various styles. There are also numerous cloth nappy communities on Facebook for advice. Also instead of baby wipes, choose damp muslin cloths which can be washed and used many times over.
  • If you do accept plastic bags be sure to re-use them. Zip-lock bags can be washed and re-used.
  • Put those stored baby items you’re not quite ready to let go of to use! Hiring services, such as Kindershare, allow you to rent out your little-used children’s equipment to other families.
  • If an item is broken, don’t just bin it! Take your item, including small electrical goods, timber furniture and bicycles, to The Bower Reuse and Repair Cafe in Marrickville and Parramatta, where you can receive free assistance to repair the item. The cafe operates weekly and occasionally even goes on the road to other locations. The Bower also offers a free collection and rehoming service for household furniture in good usable condition.
  • Offer unwanted clothing and household items that are in good condition to friends or family who might have a need for them.
  • Find a new home for your unwanted clothing and household items in buy, sell, swap and pay it forward groups. There are many active online communities in the Inner West.
  • Donate unwanted items in good condition to charity. The Dandelion Support Network, accepting various nursery items, and Mummies Paying it Forward, which accepts clothing, toys and toiletries, are just two great local organisations helping those in need. Refer to their Facebook pages for drop-off details and current information on the items that are wanted/accepted.
  • You can also deposit old clothing and sheets in recycling boxes at H&M stores nationwide for recycling and re-purposing. All textiles are accepted – any brands and in any condition. You’ll even receive a voucher towards your next purchase. More details on H&M’s garment collecting program here.
  • Some dog and cat shelters also accept old sheets and towels. Check with your local providers.


  • Create a compost bin or worm farm for your food scraps and scrap paper. Check with your local council about special offers on compost bins and worm farm set-ups. Inner West Council offers attractive discounts for compost bins and worm farms through Compost Revolution.
  • If you’re unable to set up a compost bin or worm farm due to space or other restrictions, look into Share Waste. The free app helps to connect people who are composting with those who wish to compost.
  • Another option is to send your food waste to a biodigester such as Positive Waste, which uses anaerobic digestion technology to convert food waste into green electricity and nutrient-rich fertiliser.
  • Don’t contaminate recycling with non-recyclable items. Know what can and cannot be recycled in your council area. Check your local council’s website for information on recycling specific to your local area. For those living within the Inner West Council area, this is the link to the Waste and Recycling section of the council’s website.
  • Deposit your soft plastics, such as cereal bags, at REDcycle collection points, including Coles and Woolworths.
  • If you use coffee capsules, chose fully biodegradeable ones. Some brands have their own recycling programs. Nespresso, for example, accepts used capsules at their stores or they can be returned by post for recycling.
  • Take your unwanted electronic waste and household chemicals to your local council’s e-waste drop-off collection point for recycling and safe disposal. More info on Inner West Council’s Household Chemical and E-Waste drop-off programs can be found here.
  • For those tricky items, the City of Sydney’s Garbage Guru website allows you to enter an item to find out if it can be recycled and if not, how it is best handled.

And finally, let local businesses know that a product’s environmental impact influences your buying decisions. Praise their positive actions, call out any negative ones. Also let your local member know that the environment matters to you.
Cover image © windsurfer62/123RF Stock Photo


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