The 5 R’s of sustainability

In the 80’s, the words reduce, reuse and recycle were known as the three Rs. It’s now the year 2021, and three Rs are no longer enough.

With a rapid shift in economic growth and globalisation, we’ve seen an increase in waste. This has captured global attention, and highlighted the need for the implementation of better practices that act against this.

In 2013, an activist called Bea Johnston presented her book ‘Zero Waste Home’, within which she presented five Rs for sustainability, and implored us all to try them. For your enjoyment and personal development, here they are.

Introducing the 5 Rs

1.   Refuse

The first of the five Rs is ‘refuse’. When you’re thinking about purchasing something, you need to determine if it is a need or a want. If you don’t need it, you shouldn’t really buy it. If you don’t have it, there is no need to worry about disposing of it in a way that is safe for the environment. Pretty straight forward, right?

With that in mind, you should make sure your mattress lives as long as is possible, by taking good care of it, and by buying a mattress that is of good quality, and therefore will last a long time. Look for companies that offer long warranties and lifetime guarantees.

Natural and organic mattresses are very durable, and take less time to break down than man-made fibres, so – when the time comes – you’ll know disposing of your mattress is not wreaking havoc on the environment. They also last longer. Traditional mattresses last around ten years, where natural and organic mattresses have been known to last as long as twenty if taken care of.

2. Reduce

The second of the five Rs is ‘reduce’. Here, we’re advising you not to impulse buy. This is similar to refuse, but instead highlights the need not to purchase something you may never use, so as to reduce the future potential waste you could create. The ‘reduce’ rule aims to push you towards natural, multi-use products, which offer durability and longevity, and are considered sustainable purchases.

Here at Ely Mattresses, we understand the issues facing the planet today, and that’s why we make sure our mattresses are long lasting, thus reducing the frequency with which you have to buy them.


3. Reuse

The third rule is ‘reuse’. Does that old mattress you have really need to be tossed into landfill, or could someone somewhere use it? What about your bedding, or curtains, or other soft furnishings? You might not want to reuse them yourself, but someone else might get use from them, so ask around your family, or donate things to a charity shop.

Where possible, you should buy reusable items, such as cloth nappies over disposable ones, reusable face pads, glass jars and bottles that you can reuse, and refuse to buy single use plastics, like cutlery and plastic bags.

4. Recycle

The fourth rule is ‘recycle’. This is probably the one you hear most about. Where possible, you should make sure your waste is recycled, and therefore used again. It might feel easier to dispose of big things, like mattresses, in the traditional way, but there are many organisations who will gladly take your mattress from you, and they’ll remove the recyclable materials from it and make sure it is put to good use. The separate components go on to create a mountainous number of things.

Alongside our partner, The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group), we’ll take away your old mattress when we bring you a new one, and make sure it is recycled properly. TFR Group will carefully and responsibly strip away your old mattress and recycle its components. They’ve recycled over one million mattresses to date, to help reduce the enormous landfill figures mattresses contribute to.

5. Rot

The final rule is ‘rot’, and this involves moving towards composting. This is largely to do with what you do with the old food in your fridge. Instead of throwing it in the bin, where it inevitably ends up in landfill, why not look into composting?

Composting fights climate change because rubbish tossed into landfill is often trapped in air-tight spaces, which means it decomposes without oxygen, which we all know is vital for our survival on Earth. When your rubbish is composted in your garden, less methane is produced, and this is very important for the planet.

You can even use your compost to feed the soil in your garden. Your plants will love it!

If you can’t compost (perhaps you don’t have a garden), then at least try to choose products that do rot away naturally and are biodegradable. This way, you know they’re not negatively impacting the environment when they break down. Ely Mattresses are made from recyclable, biodegradable and natural materials, so you can sleep easy, knowing your mattress purchase at least is making the world a better place.

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