It is perhaps hard to believe that it is four decades since the world was introduced to the concept of recycling. Since that time it is seen by most people as a common sense good thing to be doing. However, there is often a huge gulf in thinking that something is a good thing and taking real, proactive steps to actually doing something.
More often than not recycling involves a minimum of effort on our part and for many people at least it is either laziness or old, ingrained habits that stop us from recycling our waste more than we actually do. Below, then, are ten simple tips to help you become better at recycling the stuff you throw out.
Always remember the ‘3 Rs’
‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ – whilst most of us a very familiar with the last R the first two are just as important. For instance, simply by reducing the amount of goods that we use by making simple changes to our consumption patterns (for example, by buying goods that use less packaging) makes a huge difference to the amount of waste that is in circulation. Likewise, finding ways to reuse good can help enormously. The most obvious example of this would be to try fixing things that are broken rather than rushing straight out to the shops to buy a replacement.
Know what you can and can’t recycle
A little bit of homework in finding out what is and what is not something that you can recycle helps a lot. Today, this task has been made a lot easier by a big effort on the part of most local councils who will tell you what is recyclable material, often even giving you different bins for different types of materials.
The whole point of recycling is to reduce the use of new, virgin materials entering into the production and consumption chain. Therefore by making an effort to buy goods that have already been recycled will help this push enormously. Paper for printers is a great example of this – simply look for the recycle logo.
Encourage an artist
If you know someone who makes art from everyday used objects then why not offer to become a supplier for them. Similarly many schools are always looking for materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic tubes or bottles for art classes in school, so why not simply ask your local schools if then need anything? – most will often say yes.
Recycle your water
With often just a little bit of investment in your plumbing you maybe able to use dirty water from your bath, shower or your dishing washing water for instance, or even rainwater to flush your toilet with.
Recycle your greenery
Composting is perhaps one of the most effective (and easiest) forms of recycling. Why not take all of those vegetable peelings and other kitchen was out to a small compost bin, which these days are custom built and easy to use.
Recycle your electrics
These days the recycling of electrical components, especially batteries, is becoming much more common than it used to be. There are a lot of non-profit companies who will gladly take things like your old computers and remake them into new computers for use in other parts of the world. Also, try, wherever possible to use rechargeable batteries.
Anticipate your recycling
For instance, try to avoid what are often called ‘monstrous hybrids’ which are products which are fused together with the various components impossible to separate. Always choose goods that can be broken down and where each component can be recycled individually.
If you don’t love something, let it go
Rather than simply throwing an unwanted item out why not try to find someone else that might have a use for it. For instance, take unwanted clothes to a clothes bank or a charity shop. Why not also advertise unwanted goods as available as free in small ads websites such as Craigslist or Gumtree.
Become a waste-stream analyst
Why not design a ‘material recovery programme’ for your home or office? Simply conduct an audit of what comes into your home or office during a week/month and what goes out in order to get a much clearer sense of what is and is not able to be recycled. This will then help you to organise your recycling in a much more systematic and efficient manner. This is a great little activity that the kids could help you with too.