Welcome to another collab with the lovely Marie! I feel quite strongly about waste and recycling, so jumped at the chance to write my own little piece when Marie suggested it to our group. You can read her take on things over on her blog.
The amount of waste we produce as a society and as individuals has crept into the public’s awareness in a big way over the past couple of decades. Recycling isn’t a new idea, but the way we do it has changed because the way we live has changed.
So what’s the big deal?
Increasingly damning evidence keeps being published about how our irresponsible disposal of waste is damaging the environment. Not just the global environment but our very own environments, and our health.
I’m sure we can all agree that rubbish is gross. It doesn’t usually start out gross – I should hope your food packaging starts out hygienic and your plastic bags don’t start life full of filth. In fact most resources are pretty useful until they become rubbish, mushed up with all the other gross stuff that’s been thrown out.
Thing is, most of that rubbish will live a lot longer than you. Everyone wants to make their mark, leave their legacy in some way. But I don’t think this is really what we had in mind. Unless we change our ways, and fast, then a barren, plastic planet is what we’ll be leaving behind.
What can I do about it then?
You can start with the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s something many of us have heard our whole lives, and it’s advice that has really stood the test of time.
Start here. Reducing your waste is the BEST thing you can do if you want to lessen your contribution to the plastic planet. There are many ways to reduce your waste, and some of them might even be second nature by now. Single use plastics have been the talk of the town lately – and for good reason – they’re TERRIBLE for the environment. But it’s a good idea to try and reduce ALL your waste! Here are a few of the easiest changes to make:
- Don’t buy plastic bags. Since the introduction of the 5p bag charge in 2016, the use of single-use carrier bags has decreased by 86% , and a 30% reduction in plastic bags on the seabed has been linked to such charges across Europe. Get yourself some nice re-usable fabric bags or some super strong jute bags for carrying your tins home. Or get yourself a super cute backpack! You’ll save your 5ps and the environment.
- Choose loose fruit and veg over package where possible. Some packaging is actually good as it extends the life of the product, therefore reducing food waste, however most of it is just a bit extra. There’s increasing pressure on supermarkets to just bloody stop it, but in the mean time it’s down to our own choices. In our house we get our veg delivered by Riverford every two weeks in a cardboard box with minimal packaging. And the box gets re-used!
- Try not to buy things you don’t need and won’t use. In fact, Christmas is coming up which is one of the WORST times for waste. Be frugal in both money and resources and spend your time and love on people instead.
- Get yourself a flask and a re-usable coffee cup. Bottled water is such a waste of money and resources, as are those cups the Starbucks comes in.
- If you have periods consider investing in a menstrual cup. I use the mooncup and it’s amazing. It saves so much money and reduces sanitary waste. Plus it’s saved me from so many emergency trips to the shop!
Okay, so it’s practically impossible to eliminate all waste from your life, so this is where re-using comes in. By re-using resources you keep waste out of landfill or incinerators, and you reduce the need to produce EVEN MORE stuff. Here are some neat ways to re-use stuff:
- Send your good quality old clothes and accessories to charity shops so someone else can give it a second life, and raise some money for charity.
- Things that you can’t take to the charity shop can often be sold privately on sites like Facebook Marketplace, or you can give them away for free on sites like Freecycle.
- Glass jars can be used to make neat light features – get a cheap string of battery powered fairy light and pop them inside the jars. Voila! There are loads more ideas like this on Pinterest.
- If you’re into arts and crafts old paper, card, plastics can all come in handy!
Recycling varies depending on your local authority, so I’m just going to talk about how we recycle in Southampton. For information on how you should recycle where you live go to your council’s website and there should be something on there.
We have a green bin for general waste, blue lidded bin for recycling, and a grey box for glass. The glass box is a fairly recent addition and one I’m very thankful for, as we used to end up with mounds of glass to walk down to the glass bank.
- paper and cardboard
- tins and cans
- empty aerosols
- plastic bottles (must be bottle shaped)
Everything else except for glass goes in the general waste unless you choose to do something else with it. Here’s a bunch of things you can do with the “general waste”:
- Food waste can be composted along with things like teabags, coffee grounds, garden waste among other things. Here’s a comprehensive list of what can and can’t be composted. We have a compost bin in the corner of our garden for all our food waste, tea bags and the compostable cat litter we use (we’re not going to use the compost on food plants).
- There are often recycling areas in supermarket and public car parks. You can search for your local recycling facilities here. Often these will take textiles, large cardboard, and glass.
- Any retailer that sells batteries must provide a facility to take them back for recycling when they’re all used up.
There are many more ways you can reduce the amount of rubbish in your general waste bin, I’d never be able to cover them all! You can find more great ideas on these sites: