Being a recycling nut, I have VERY LITTLE time for people who don’t recycle. Because there’s just no excuse for it.
I’m no expert, but as I understand it, there are some very sound environmental reasons for recycling:
- Burying stuff in landfill produces methane, which is damaging to the environment
- Landfill space is running out, so we need to bury far less rubbish
- Recycling means we use less raw materials, which is better for the environment
- For some materials, recycling uses far less energy than making something new
- Plus there is the huge cost to councils of landfill, with council tax payers (that’s you and me) footing the bill.
I’ve been keen on recycling for as long as I can remember, but the rest of the world needed to catch up. As a kid we used to save the glass bottles and take them to the bottle bank, but that was really all you could recycle in those days. I also remember my Granny and Grandad having ‘deposit’ lemonade bottles. If you took the clean, empty glass bottle back to the Co-op, you would get 10p back. And of course most people had milk delivered in glass bottles that were collected and reused. (My Dad’s dad ran a dairy and my Dad was a bit obsessed with looking at the origins of milk bottles!)
When I had my eldest son it felt like I was opening my bin to drop rubbish in literally 100s of times a day. I did of course save my glass bottles, newspapers and cans and faithfully walk, yes, WALK to recycle them, but there was still so much that just got thrown away.
Shortly after my younger son was born we got KERBSIDE COLLECTIONS – hooray! They collected paper, glass bottles and cans. So no more walking. Well, apart from to the plastic bottle banks which were introduced at a similar time. I was beyond excited about those.
A few years ago I watched in horror as my friend THREW A DIET COKE CAN IN THE BIN. Seriously, only a complete obsessive like me can understand how sick that made me feel. If it had been a tetrapak I might have let it go, only obsessives recycle tetrapaks, but cans are collected by the council for God’s sake! There’s no excuse. I’m not the type to have a go at my friends, or anyone, but I had to question this. Incredibly, she had no idea that it was wrong. She had sailed through 35 years of life without the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) touching her in any way.
- People who don’t recycle
- People who take their stuff to recycle, find the banks ‘full’ and dump it on the ground
- People who ‘mix up their waste streams’ ie put cardboard in with the glass or recycle stuff in a carrier bag
- People who fly tip (that really is the absolute worst)
Although I am pretty obsessive, I don’t think I am abnormal. I just use the resources available easily to do the best job I can at recycling. Have you heard of the family who only put their bin out once in a year? We’re not like that. I do, shock horror, drink bottled water. But only when I’m out, in the same way I might drink a can of Coke or carton of orange juice. I always reuse and recycle the bottles. If we get bottled drinks in restaurants (usually Fruit Shoots for the kids) I take the bottles home with me, because I’m not sure if the restaurant will recycle them. And I will take foil home from holiday to recycle it. Hmm, maybe that is just a little bit obsessive.
So what do we recycle? This may not be an exhaustive list:
- Glass bottles and jars
- Plastic bottles (remember shampoo and cleaning stuff, not just drinks!)
- Drinks cartons
- Foil (this may be collected kerbside, although not a lot of people realise this!)
- Batteries (although we usually use rechargeable)
- Carrier bags (including wrappers for toilet rolls etc. We use reusable bags as much as possible)
- Food waste (collected kerbside)
- Garden waste, including windfalls (collected kerbside)
- Clothes and shoes (including giving to friends or selling on eBay)
- Wrapping paper (don’t put in your green box, you need to check where you can recycle this one!)
- Greetings cards (not just Christmas)
- Small electrical goods eg toothbrushes, Christmas lights
- Metal items
I’m very proud to say that my kids know exactly what to recycle and I love it when they go to someone’s house and politely ask ‘Where do you put your recycling?’ instead of ‘Where’s the bin?’
This is an updated version of a post from last year, which had just three views. Sorry if you were one of those three people!