Not much hard sell here. This one is obvious: Recycling is good. It’s good because it reuses resources, meaning new trees don’t have to be chopped down and new oil doesn’t have to be drilled. It’s good because it stops landfills getting fuller. It’s good because it takes less energy to recycle than to produce from scratch. And although it’s an obvious one, and although it’s not a new idea and although it’s good, we still don’t do it enough.
Keep Britain Tidy reckons although recycling rates have improved, from 12% in 2000 to 42% in 2016, they’ve flattened in the last few years even as consumption and waste have continued to grow. And we remain lousy at separating recyclables from non-recyclables, contaminating what could be reused and dooming it to live forever in landfill.
Recycling is easy, which means not recycling is lazy. Most councils now have street collections for recyclable waste, all have recycling centres in their civic amenities sites and it’s tough to find a supermarket car park anywhere that doesn’t house recycling bins. All we have to do is hit our councils’ websites to find what facilities they have, which materials they can recycle and how to avoid contaminated stuff being rejected.
Results of my council website hitting revealed we have an absolute ton of blue bins around the city to recycle magazines, newspapers, comics, office paper, catalogues, phone directories, brochures, junk mail, drinks cans, food tins and plastic bottles for drinks, shampoo, bleach and milk. My recycled paper will become new paper, my recycled metal will become fridges and freezers and my recycled plastic bottles will become fleeces and more blue recycling bins. We have an absolute ton of green bins around the city to take glass bottles and jars and an absolute ton of brown bins to take loose compostable garden waste; we’re talking grass cuttings, leaves, hedge trimmings, plants and weeds but not soil, rubble or stones. My nearest civic amenities site is about five miles away and has facilities for all the stuff the blue, green and brown bins can handle as well as books, car batteries, card, cardboard, cooking oil, electrical items, engine oil, textiles, wood and Yellow Pages.
It can’t take envelopes, shredded paper, plastic bags, polystyrene, yogurt pots, Tetra Pak containers, plastic food containers, paint cans, cling film or other plastic wrapping, crockery, drinking glasses or light bulbs so we have some work to do. If I tear the sticky bit off envelopes the rest can be recycled in the blue bins. I can avoid plastic carrier bags completely because they’re made by Satan, I can avoid plastic yogurt pots by going for recyclable card pots, and Tetra Pak by going for juice and milk in plastic bottles where I have to – although that means dirty-bad oil. That, combined with choosing sustainable materials all the time always, should take get me a little closer to the top of the moral high ground.
And high ground is what we’ll need when the sea levels rise thanks to the rest of you flinging all your junk in the bin.
You must have heard of this
Come on now
Photo credit: Jeff Bottai/Getty Images/parallel thinking
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