In this third instalment of our eco-lifestyle blog series, we’re shedding some light on what it means to manage disposable waste in our lives.
When we purchase just about anything in the store – from breakfast cereals to home appliances – it comes in the manufacturer’s packaging that is most often made of hard plastic or cardboard. Inevitably, even the most conscious consumer accumulates materials like these as we participate in day-to-day living. Refusing straws and plastic bags is easy, opting to buy whole fruits and vegetables is best, but what do we do when plastic bottles, tins, and glass find their way into our lives?.
Most cities around the world have effective waste management systems in place and it is our responsibility to make use of these services and dispose of recyclable materials properly. The chances are, your neighbourhood has a recycling depot and maybe even a collection service, so recycling at home should be a piece of cake.
Some food containers might need rinsing and boxes may need flattening, but when recycling is this accessible, we really don’t have an excuse not to join in! In fact, some eco-conscious countries (hey Switzerland, France, Finland!) penalise residents for NOT recycling.
So, who are we to opt out?
Guidelines for recycling at home:
Download a guide on recycling symbols so that you know what is and is not recyclable
Check packaging for a recycling symbol and dispose of item accordingly
Separate your glass, plastic, metal, and cardboard
Wash food waste off items before disposing in recycling bin (use water sparingly)
Keep batteries and other expired electronics – you can recycle these too!
Remove caps from glass bottles and lids from jars
DON’T attempt to recycle broken glass, mirrors, light-bulbs, organic and medical waste, soiled cardboard, Styrofoam
Create a compost heap for your organic food waste (your garden will thank you)
Recycling and upcycling!
You can recycle certain items without throwing them away, and if you are an especially creative earth warrior, you might even try upcycling. If you’re less creative, you could always opt to buy recycled or upcycled items instead.
The key difference between the two is that recycled products have undergone a process that breaks down the original item (like a plastic bottle) and uses that recycled material to build something else entirely. Upcycling uses the original product as something else. Using plastic bottles as hanging plant pots, home storage containers, or eco-bricks is an example of very simple upcycling that gives this deadly disposable a new life and replaces the need for something else.
So, we find ourselves armed – actually – with a whole arsenal of pollution-fighting ideas, whether we reduce, reuse, or recycle. Making a conscious effort can have the biggest impact on our own lives and most importantly, on the environment. We are all about scaling down, using natural resources sparingly and sustainably, and making our footprint that much smaller.