Reuse before recycle.
There has been a great push and debate in general and recently about coffee cups. Are they being recycled? This ignores the basics that it is plainly better to reuse a product before recyling.
If one looks at aluminium cans, the classic one shot product, yes it takes 5% of the energy to recycle rather than make and yes planily recycling stops landfill sites filling, is relative easy and reduces the demand for mining.
This ignores that a coke can is a one-shot product. Its used once. Then more energy has to be spent to recycle this can.
Some plastic bottles when "recycled" are downcycled. The energy put it only creates a lower value product.
The three R's of the green movement are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Note recycle is at the end of the above list.
One needs to consider and plan one's actions to try and reduce. Reduce is the first step in the three R's.
However, what has been shown with the plastic bag levy in the UK is that simple legislation has a prompt and direct effect on changing behaviour quickly.
9 million fewer bags are in a landfill and hopefully less in trees too because of a small charge leading to a rapid change. So maybe to reduce we need to be saying to our elected representative bring on the coffee cup levy?