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Reduce & Recycle - Calculator
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Reduce And Recycle
Up to half of all waste comes from households, which means if we can cut down on waste in our homes, we can have a big impact on a global scale.
Depending on where and how you live, paper, plastic, glass, and metal make up the larger part of your waste - all materials you can reuse or recycle. If we all recycle at home, we could save up to 6 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050. Single use plastic is a big part of the problem, but there are many times that it’s easy enough to avoid.
Take this step to reduce the amount you buy and throw away, and recycle what is left. You’ll help harmful waste out of nature and cut carbon emissions too.
Cutting waste starts with buying only what you need. Choose products with less plastic packaging and avoid single use plastic like water bottles, grocery bags. Before you throw something away, think about how you give it another life, in your home or someone else’s.
Recycle what you can’t reduce or reuse - and more importantly, recycle right to avoid contaminating the whole load. Check the symbols, separate your trash, don’t recycle grocery bags at home, don’t recycle anything smaller than a credit card, and make sure that the recyclables are clean, empty and dry. How and what you can recycle changes depending on where you live, so it’s best to check with your local authorities.
If you can’t recycle, take a step to Keep Your Politicians Accountable. Ask them to encourage recycling and stop single use plastics.
Plastics pollute our food sources, soil, and water - we’re literally eating microplastics, with some estimates that we could be eating the equivalent of a credit card each week. Reducing what you use keeps plastic waste out of our oceans and our landfills, protecting nature and improving your own health too.
Producing products from recycled materials also saves energy and reduces carbon emissions. Recycling aluminum products like cans, for example, uses 95 percent less energy than creating them from new materials. And recycling paper keeps forests standing and uses less water than making paper from wood.
Explore more stepsInspire your organization to make changes that matter.Find out moreReduce the amount of meat you eat in a week.Find out moreUse solar to power your home or heat your water.Find out moreShare a ride, go electric or travel by bike or foot instead.Find out moreChoose how financial institutions use your money.Find out moreTeam up with others and boost your impact.Find out more
Globally, on average, people could potentially be ingesting up to 5 g of microplastics per week.
Estimation of the mass of microplastics ingested, Senathirajah et al. (2020)
The ensuing rapid growth in plastics production is extraordinary, surpassing most other man-made materials [...] plastics’ largest market is packaging, an application whose growth was accelerated by a global shift from reusable to single-use containers.
Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made - Roland Geyer et al
Waste production multiplied tenfold over the last century and will likely double again by 2025. Half or less of that waste is generated at the household level. Household recycling could avoid 5.5–6.0 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
Impact metric calculations
To determine the carbon emission reduction estimates related to reducing plastic waste and increasing recycling, the following calculation was performed:
Plastic Waste: (total per person per month plastic waste in kg) x (100% - action-dependent reduction percentage %) x (44% of plastic is recyclable) x (1.14 kg CO2e/kg in net plastic emissions reductions from recycling)
Recycling: (total per person per month metal waste in kg) x (10.06 kg CO2e/kg net aluminum emissions reductions from recycling) + (total per person per month glass waste in kg) x (0.31 kg CO2e/kg net glass emissions reductions from recycling) + (total per person per month paper waste in kg) x (3.91 kg CO2e/kg net paper emissions reductions from recycling)
Total: Plastic Waste + Recycling = kg CO2e/month
For detailed calculations, references and assumptions, please see our Methodology.