- Andy Teale
10 Easy Ways to Start Recycling at Home Today!
In the UK, it's currently 'Recycle Week 2020', which runs from 21st-27th September. In its 17th year, it's a week dedicated to celebrating recycling and the positive impact it makes on our environment!
This year's theme centres on the efforts that have allowed recycling to continue despite the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, with focus on keyworkers who have allowed the general public to keep recycling.
To tie in with the week, we wanted to share some easy tips on how everyone can start recycling at home.
After all, whilst we're working to tackle the plastic problem, we'd love to inspire others to join us in making an environmental impact too, no matter where you are in the world!
If you're new to recycling, like all things, it's best to start small and go steady, in order to turn it into a long-term, sustainable habit.
After all, recycling can feel a bit overwhelming at first. You'll find yourself come up against a range of questions as you becoming more aware of all the materials and waste you go through in everyday life.
It's common to find yourself asking questions such as:
"What bin does that go in?"
"Can that be recycled?"
"What type of plastic is this?
Therefore, it's often good to keep things manageable at the beginning and start on one or two things. For example, perhaps you can start with recycling paper as that doesn't need cleaning and can go straight in the bin? Or focus on one room of the house, such as the bathroom?
Once you're happy with what you've achieved and it feels comfortable, move onto the next, and so on. Before you know it, recycling will soon become a habit and you'll be quickly assessing what can be recycled, therefore greatly reducing your carbon footprint.
We're living in a world where more and more items can be recycled. However, we're not quite there yet where everything can be recycled.
The materials that can be recycled are largely defined by the area you live in, so it's worth doing some googling to see what can and can't be recycled by the waste management services in your area. It's actually especially important to get this right, as putting non-recyclable items in the wrong bin can actually prevent the whole batch of rubbish from being recycled, with the only alternative for it is being sent to landfill.
Most waste management systems rely on the individual to sort the rubbish correctly, so it's worth figuring this out at the beginning.
Bonus tip: for those items which won't be recycled by government services, it's always worth googling alternatives such as private firms who may be able to help. Chances are there will be another organisation able to recycle them, which can applying to more 'challenging items' such as batteries, printer cartridges and electronics!
Set up an easy system
After you've research what materials can be recycled in your local area, the next step is to implement a system to make recycling easy and convenient.
It's best to set up a system which allows you to 'recycle as you go' rather than mixing it all together and trying to sort it before you take the rubbish out, which will most likely end up feeling like a massive chore.
Take some time to figure out what materials you're going to recycle (eg. glass, plastic, paper), and where in your home you want to be able to quickly dispose these materials. For example, in the office you're only likely need to recycle paper, where in the kitchen you'll probably need to recycle most materials.
Once you know what and where you'll need to recycle, put out some containers in order to collect the rubbish. This will make it quick and easy for you to recycle (and sort) as you go in your daily life.
Bonus tip: colour code you containers to make it even easier, and if you're tight on room, be sure to 'crush' the rubbish as you go!
For items which have contained food or liquids, it's good to get in the habit of rinsing them as you go. Much like it's important to get the right items in the right bins to stop batches of recycling becoming 'contaminated', it's also important to ensure the items are cleaned and washed. Dirty items are another big reason why batches of rubbish can rejected, and then sadly ends up in landfill.
As well as helping to ensure the waste gets recycled, this will also help it to remain hygienic and manage the smell whilst you store it.
Bonus tip: If the packaging is also made from different materials (eg. plastic and cardboard), this is also a good chance to separate them into the different containers for recycling!
Not sure what to do with your food waste, especially as you clean the containers?
Food waste is actually great for your garden, as it allows you to make compost! Waste food such as raw fruit, vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, tea bags and eggshells can all be composted rather than thrown away.
After a few months, you'll have some green compost for the garden once it's broken down!
Water is a really valuable resource, which with a little effort, can often be used more than once. So before you throw it away, consider if it could be reused?
Could you water you've used to boil an egg be used to clean a surface later, or could some shower water be used to water the plants?
This tip will not only help you to save on water but also help cut bills too!
Reuse (and repair) what you can
In addition to the recycling mentioned above, it's even better in the first instance if you can reuse items such as glass jars, boxes, carriers bags, water bottles, papers and fabrics. From using them as containers to upcycling them into something more creative, there's a big reason 'reuse' is one of the three R's alongside 'recycle' and 'reduce', as it uses less energy than the recycling process.
Likewise, if something damaged, maybe it's worth seeing if can be repaired by yourself or someone else first.
Therefore, before you throw something away (even if it's for the recycling bin) it's worth considering if that item can be reused. Again, this strategy might even save you some money too!
Give some more thought to what you purchase
Another big one, which is a little different from the traditional recycling tips at the top, but will make a massive difference in reducing your environmental impact - evaluating your purchase decisions.
In the first instance, it's actually worth considering whether you really want/need what you were going to purchase. Is there another way you could solve the problem which is more environmentally friendly? Afterall, consuming a little less here and there will help the planet (by reducing waste) and help your bank balance too!
Considering quantity also helps too - try to buy only what you'll use to avoid waste.
And if you really do need that item? Pause before you purchase it and do a little research. Perhaps there's a 'greener' alternative out there.
For instance, is the packaging made from recycled materials? If it is, it's more likely the materials can be recycled again. Furthermore, your payment will also act as a 'vote' telling the industry that people want greener options, making them more likely to provide them in the future.
Or perhaps you can buy a second-hand version which someone doesn't want any more? Online marketplaces like eBay are great for this!
The less we can consume, means the less we need to recycle, which provides a major boost for planet earth!
Make it fun
Want to make recycling fun and more exciting? Turn it into a game or a challenge. For example, each week, challenge yourself to put less and less in the bin that sends waste to the landfill.
This creates more added incentive to keep the habit going!
Get the whole house involved!
It's important to get everyone in your household on board with recycling and the system you've implemented. Not only will this help to share the work so its not all left to you, but the challenges facing us and the environment are huge - the more people who can participate, the better!
Imagine the impact a whole household can make working together, over just an individual!
The amount of waste we generate over our lifetime is huge, so it's important we do our best to minimise it. Even if you only make a few small changes, this will add up over a lifetime to create a huge environmental impact!
Using the advice above, we'd love it if you could join our recycling efforts from your homes, whereever you live in the world, as we work to keep planet earth healthy, tidy and safe - for ourselves and future generations to come!