Reduce, reuse, recycle.
I can’t help myself, but I definitely find that I judge people who don’t recycle. Call me whatever you want, but it is every human’s responsibility to make an effort to reduce their impact on the planet. Recycling is so incredibly easy to do once you have a system in place. There really is no excuse not to be doing it.
Why should you be recycling? Here are a few valid reasons:
- If all newspapers were recycled, over 250 million trees could be saved each year
- An aluminium can will last over 500 years if it’s not recycled. Imagine all the cans in the world piling up for hundreds of years? If you recycle them, they can be back on the shelves as cans in about two months
- The average human produces around 2kg of trash per day. That is around 4 pounds of trash per day, and 1,5 tons per year! Don’t ever think that one person cannot make a difference
- In America alone, 250 million plastic bottles are thrown away every day, when they could be recycled. Again, think about the vastness of 250 million plastic bottles. They could be reused and recycled into new plastic items, furniture, or can even be used to make roads
You can play a part if you don’t already. It’s really simple to do. Here are a few tips to help make recycling easy for you.
Source A Recycling Depot
Before you begin, what are you going to do with your recycling? You need to dispose of it somehow, so you need to find out how you can do that via your local council or municipality. Some will do weekly collections from your neighbourhood, others not.
For those who don’t, there will be a recycling depot nearby where you can drop the recyclables yourself. Set aside a day to do it and make a habit of it. It’s a small act that will have a large impact.
Another option is to pay a collection service. There are so many great recycling companies in operation already. They collect from you and sort out the rest from there. You can sign up with one of them for a small fee.
Buy Some Recycling Bins
The main reason people don’t recycle is because it can get messy. It’s easier to toss something in a bin and not think about it again. Exactly. That’s why you need dedicated bins for each recyclable material. You can find recycling bins anywhere, or you can use your imagination and create your own.
Have separate bins dedicated to plastic (this is usually a big one), cans, glass, paper, and then one for general waste. If you have a recycling company come and collect your recyclable materials, they often separate everything for you. If not, do the work when you’re throwing stuff away. Dedicated bins keep everything neat, hygienic and stored away out of sight.
Wash Your Recyclable Goods
Yes, it sounds odd to wash your trash, but you’ll thank me for this one. Often it takes a while for recycling to build up, and in that time, leftover food on tins or bottles can start to rot and smell. It also attracts all sorts of little insects if it’s not cleaned out.
A simple rinse straight after use before throwing it in the recycling bin will help eradicate these problems. This also assists during the actual recycling process further down the line.
Flatten And Squash
Cardboard boxes can be flattened and plastic bottles and cans can be squashed. This will make space for so much more to be recycled or tossed into the bin at once. That way you don’t have to make as many trips to the recycling depot, and you won’t have bins overflowing with waste.
Many local businesses are doing what they can to support the planet and prevent damaging it any further. It’s important to support them in the work they do as we all have the same goal in mind.
In South Africa, we have a group of people called waste pickers, who go through people’s rubbish on collection day and take their recyclables out. They take cardboard, tins, and plastic bottles, and then transport them on foot to the nearest recycling depot. They receive a small fee for their recyclables, turning it into a small business opportunity for them. I see them as the most selfless, wonderful humans who are doing their part to help release strain on the environment.
Wherever I can, I help them. I collect all my hard plastics and tins and put them in the boot of my car on rubbish collection day. I always cross the paths of one or two waste pickers on my daily drive and give them my plastic and tins. It helps me and it helps them. If you’re in South Africa and you’re in a position to help the waste pickers, do your part. They are always so grateful. Just be sure to only give them what they can use.
Recycling Is More Than Paper, Tins, Glass And Plastic
Look around you and think about how you consume things in your daily life. Often we do so unconsciously. We buy things we don’t need, we don’t pay attention to our need for something, only our want. Cleaning out my house in preparation for emigration was a huge eye-opener. I had bought so many things that I thought I would “need later”. But they were never used and simply took up storage space in my house until I passed them onto someone more deserving. We are all guilty of this.
When the handle on your bag breaks, fix it. When your top loses a button, add a new one. Upcycle and repair your clothing before buying new so that you don’t play into the mass consumerism that is ruling our planet and putting it under so much pressure.
I was so proud of myself for getting out my sewing kit and fixing a pair of boardshorts and a top that I loved. I thought about throwing them away because they were both ripped, but I could fix them in a way that you would never notice the repair. So I did. And it was like having brand new clothes again! Try it next time you’re about to throw something out. Can you fix it or re-use it? If we can re-use the things we have more than we buy to replace, we will reduce huge amounts of pressure on our beautiful Mama Earth.