The Perfect Recyclable Candidate
Reduce, Re-Use, and Recycle. Words which have become as familiar as the back of your hand with most of us using them on a day to day basis, but do we know which of the items, from our recycling boxes, will actually be re-used?
As we become more and more aware of our ongoing mark on the world, we start to realise how much needs to be done. One term that seems to be on everyone’s mind, and has been for a while, is recycling. When you look around you, every day you see recycling bins outside your house, recyclable coffee cups in our coffee shops, recyclable crisp packets in cafeterias and recycled products in supermarkets. We are surrounded by recycling so much that most people now use cardboard, plastic or glass and chuck it into the recycling bin without even a second thought.
When you think about this as a concept creating the movement of recycling, where we have 43% of houses in the UK committing to the act, it does seems pretty amazing. Not to mention the impact it has, and will continue to make! However, is recycling as easy as a separate box and bin man?
I think when we look at an empty packet; we all go through the same conversation in our head, ‘is it plastic, cardboard, tin or glass?’ Unfortunately it’s just not that simple, from the outside it may disguise itself as a perfectly recyclable material but what about those foil lined cartons, the glossy wrapping paper, polystyrene trays, black plastic, stickers, labels…do you just chuck it all in and hope for the best?
And what about that plastic meat container with the raw chicken juice that you threw straight into the recycling bin? Well actually it’s very unlikely to be recycled. It’s just simply not enough to put your stuff in the recycling box anymore! Any, otherwise recyclable, materials that are contaminated with residue from food or mixed with other packaging materials are likely to end up in landfill.😯 This is because recycling is a business; dirty or mixed materials are just not worth the expense of cleaning and sorting, so have to be thrown away.
So you’ve cleaned your tins, detached/separated the plastic and you’ve ripped off the stickers now you’re wondering what more you can do? A question you may ask yourself is, after going through the motions toward a perfect recyclable candidate, was this all worth it? Did this plastic tray of pre-chopped broccoli really save me time and effort? Would it have been quicker and easier to just chop those darn vegetables myself? 😂
‘Plastic is everywhere and we’ve got jobs to get on with!’
Well, there are two more R’s we can all have a think about; reduce and re-use. Two easy ways to try without much hassle. I love the organic/health food shops which strive to either re-use, recycle or reduce. The ability to bring your own tub, bottle or jar significantly reduces your usage and also makes it increasingly easier for you to take home and store…perfect! Another way is to be more aware at the supermarket, try and think about what products you’re buying and whether you can recycle them... for example you could make the choice not to purchase anything with black plastic or polystyrene. After all we are free to choose but not free from the consequences of our choice.
One thing I realise from writing this blog is that trying to recycle dirty materials is a waste of time and effort, unfortunately it basically equates to throwing it directly into the landfill. So as you can see, it’s not as easy as we thought (I know it sucks!). However, the consequences of not recycling/not recycling properly or making an effort to reduce our footprint seems like a much scarier prospect.
To find out what your local council will and will not recycle go to gov.uk/recycling-collections….the rest is up to you.🌎😇
Do you have recycle, reduce and re-use tips? If so we'd love to hear about them!😁
Earths Friends (2018). ‘Why is recycling so important?’ https://www.earthsfriends.com/why-recycling-important/
Metro (2018). ‘What happens if you don’t bother washing your recycling?’ https://metro.co.uk/2018/02/15/happens-dont-bother-washing-recycling-7315366/
National Geographic (2018). ‘7 Things You Didn’t Know About Plastic (and Recycling)’ https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2018/04/04/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-plastic-and-recycling/
The Guardian (2018). ‘Dirty kitchen roll among things Britons wrongly think they can recycle’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/16/kitchen-roll-among-things-britons-wrongly-think-they-can-recycle