It’s been in the news recently that China has stopped accepting mixed plastics from foreign countries. This has left a lot of councils in a situation they aren’t equipped to handle. While we as individuals cannot change and control local council policy, we can make a difference by recycling effectively and sorting our recycling in advance. This increases the chances of it actually being recycled and not shipped elsewhere for someone else to deal with. Once our recycling has degraded it can no longer be recycled and it will either go in a landfill or remain where it is untouched and left to to rot… I don’t mean literally rot as it takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose.
While estimates vary of how much recycling is actually recycled, it seems to be where you look that gives a positive or negative figure. Government figures are particularly favourable while environmental charities claim much lower. I won’t put a percentage on this but there seems to be a range of 33% up to 68% depending on the source. What the Ellen MacArthur foundation did find in 2016 is that we now produce 20 times more plastic than we did 50 years ago. Sky News published their findings and claimed two thirds of of household plastic was exported in 2016. You have to wonder with limits in place on exporting international waste, where will all this go now? We can all make small changes to sort our recycling at the source and reduce our consumption of materials
Here are 10 tips I hope will help you recycle effectively and reduce the amount of packaging you use too.
1) Peel off labels.
Realistically no one is going to sit through tons of rubbish hand peeling labels off bottles. UK packaging now comes with a guide on what can and can’t be recycled. The only thing you may have to check is when it states, “check local recycling.”
2) Rinse jars, tins and food containers.
Same as above, no one is going to clean your jars and tins. Put it aside and rinse it last when you’ve finished with your sink water. Jars are especially easy, a little water and a shake I find does the trick.
Something I have posted about before, you can read it here. Composting is super simple with a list of multiple benefits, this can be an improvement in soil quality or re-purposing wasted food for example. Check out the blog post on how you can get started, I have even included links for in and outdoor composting. Here is a one below that can help you get started at home, it’s even created to have specialist bags that are 100% compostable by Joseph Joseph.
4) Know your area – skips, recycling centres, battery drop offs and what your council does and doesn’t accept.
With a simple search online we can find any recycling resource we need if it’s possible. For those that aren’t recycling such as bedding some animal charities may take it so it has a second life. I did another post about five common household things you may not know how to recycle.
5) Flatten cardboard and bottles.
A space saver meaning you have no excuse not to recycle as much as you possibly can!
6) Use glass where possible.
Glass is infinitely recyclable, consider switching from plastic to glass food containers. It’s one of the cheapest every day switches you can make. I made the change recently myself and I find it even maintains the heat far better when reheating food.
7) Bring your lunch and a coffee container to work.
Save money, reduce personal packaging use and watch your calories too. A store bought sandwich is normally calorie loaded, a quick fix and not very satisfying to eat. A homemade meal will win every time.
8) Take your recycling home if your office does not supply recycling bins.
Something I do every day and I have done for months. It takes no effort and goes in the same bag as my food containers that need to be taken home.
9) Read the packaging label.
Really simple, take half a minute to read about how to separate the packaging properly like this example:
10) Go digital – paper reduction.
Whether in the office, home or at school do you really need to print off your document in the digital age? Gig tickets, flight passes and emails all accessible on your phone. If you don’t need to print off then use your smart devices instead.
If all make One Change Now we can make an impact. As individuals we may feel we aren’t making a lot of impact but as a united society the possibilities are limitless.