One of the great challenges for humanity today is to use less and recycle more.

The economic model that has been in operation over the past century is prefaced on human consumption. No need to preserve or reuse, just dispose and throw away. This approach then created more demand for goods, which workers produced and so it went on.

It is surprising that only recently with the environmental emergency have humans begun to wonder about their behaviour. They have started to realise that the world is a finite resource.

If everyone is to live the life of the average American or Brit, then the resources of five planets, not one, will be required. This approach is totally unsustainable.

The destructive practices of human beings have brought the planet to the brink. The behaviour of humans make us more like a virus destroying the world than a cause for good.

Climate change is accelerating, biodiversity is being wiped out and the pollution is poisoning humans and the other living creatures on the planet.

There are moves to bring about change, but the wheels of progress move mightily slowly. At an individual level we all need to waste less. The days of buying something, using it a few times (or in some cases once) and throwing it away are over.

Waste has to be reduced by creating less in the first instance and recycling or reusing things that we do possess.

We need to create virtuous circles. So take the recent effort of Redbridge Council to cut the amount of waste produced and encourage more recycling. This will only work if other elements are added in, like community composting schemes. So waste vegetable matter can be collected, composted and returned to enrich the soil. This will mean those black bags are not being filled up with green kitchen waste.

Restaurants and cafes produce this type of green waste, which can also be composted. There is so much that at present is just being thrown away but can actually be turned around and put back into the local community.

More people need to grow their own food, whether that be in individual or community gardens or allotments. Growing your own creates a real link with the earth, as well as a much healthier way of living.

Cut the air miles and only eat in season. This means buying food that is grown in this country, not transported thousands of miles to arrive.

On travel, there is rightly much emphasis on sustainable forms of travel but maybe people need to ask whether they need to travel quite as much?

Turn appliances off, don't leave them on standby, wasting resources.

The environmental damage done by all activities should be factored in to the cost. It is one of the idiocies of Britain that often the cheapest way to get from one end of the country to the other is by plane, the most expensive the train. These variables need to be reversed.

Overall, there needs to be a revolution in the way we live, returning to a more village or community based way of existence. A way of living that operates in a circular way, with people using reusing and putting back into the community where they live. Living simply, so that others may simply live.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See