You’re familiar with “Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair”. Now, more than ever, we need to be more mindful of our environment. Most of your weekly household waste that’s tossed in the bin could be recycled instead of adding to the growing problem of landfills.
Landfills create greenhouse gas emissions, and if they aren’t managed, these form part of the deterioration in the quality of the air we breathe and climate change. It also costs more to develop new waste disposal sites, and the lifespan of landfills is decreasing due to the constant amount of waste that could actually be repurposed.
Recycling helps build a greener world, and it can also help you feel better about yourself, knowing you’re part of the change in creating an environment that supports your well-being, respects nature and considers the wellness of future generations.
You may think recycling involves a lot of effort, but it’s actually easier than you realise! Once you know how to do it and the numerous benefits, it’ll be hard not to do it! Read on to find out how to make a small change with a massive impact.
Remember the 4 ‘R’’
Reducing, reusing, recycling, and repairing is simple. The key is to minimise the waste you produce, reuse products as much as you can, repair items where possible instead of immediately buying new ones and recycle any materials that can be used for something new.
- Buy in bulk! Buy in bulk to avoid individually wrapped or single-serving packaging.
- Go paperless! Opt for digital versions of store receipts, receive your bills and monthly statements online and keep your office printing to a minimum by making two-sided photocopies or printing on the other side of previously used paper.
- Say no to the straw and doggy bag! Get yourself a stainless steel reusable drinking straw and take re-sealable tupperware containers when eating out and packing food or leftovers.
- Use a personal travel coffee mug and glass water bottle (they’re portable and reusable)
- Replace single-use plastic bags with reusable canvas shopper bags (keep these in your car so they’re always handy for your weekly groceries!)
- Reuse glass jars (think flour, pasta and rice or nails, nuts and bolts for pantry or garage storage)
- Buy and sell second-hand (from clothes and couches to baby toys and books, purchasing previously loved items benefit both the environment and your pocket)
- Buy durable, good-quality products with warrantees (these tend to last, take a long time to break, plus offer a promise of repair if necessary)
- See a seamstress! (mend broken buttons and zips, re-stitch your backpack or handbag straps and resole your boots to give your bags, clothes and shoes a longer lifespan)
- Update your digital device (with newer software, you can use your computer or tablet for longer without getting a replacement)
Recycle all the rubbish you can’t reuse. You’d be surprised at what can be reused or turned into new products.
What can I recycle?
Recyclable items include:
- paper (books, most documents printed on white office paper, flyers, magazines, newspaper, school books, telephone directories)
- plastic (bottle caps, bubble wrap, cling wrap, cool drink and water bottles, cleaning product bottles, milk bottles, most margarine and ice cream tubs, yogurt pots, soft plastic bags and packaging, garden chairs, buckets, flower pots)
- cans/tins (beer, cool drink, food, aerosol, paint)
- glass (jam jars, sauce and spice bottles, plain drinking glasses, wine bottles)
- cardboard (corrugated and cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, long life juice, milk, or wine cartons)
Got a faulty iron or microwave? Plenty of electronic waste (eWaste) and broken electrical equipment can be recycled. Many large batteries, aluminium (tin) foil, craft materials, old X-rays and office stationery and computer bits and pieces can also be reused.
How to start recycling
Not sure where to begin? Adopt a “think before you buy or throw away” approach. If anything can be reused, hold on to it. Collect all your rubbish and sort it into its different categories mentioned above. Drain, rinse, or clean any items for recycling before storing them. Wash out tins or jars that contained food by simply adding them to your usual load of dishes in the kitchen sink or dishwasher.
Help is at hand! You can have free access to recycling and waste drop-off sites in your city, or even find a recycling service in your area online through MyWaste who can collect your recyclables from home or office. Some recycling companies offer rebates according to the quantity of recycled items collected or operate with community-based buy-back centres.
What do I need to start recycling?
You don’t need any special bins to recycle – use what you already have at home or work. If you’d like to purchase something specifically designed for recycling, you can buy or rent large wheelie bins from a local recycling company that can pick up your waste from outside your premises.
Have a separate bin at home or work to throw your glass, long life cartons, tins, and plastic into. Find a box or crate to store in a convenient place like under your kitchen sink. Crushing tins or plastic bottles helps save space, but for safety reasons keep glass bottles unbroken.
Keep cardboard and paper recycling such as birthday gift wrapping paper, old envelopes, invoices and junk mail poster and pamphlets clean and dry by storing it in a cupboard, drawer, or large box in another room.
Make sure anyone who visits your home or office knows about your recycling systems. Label and strategically place your recycling bins and crates where they’re visible and accessible.
What can I do with my non-recyclable waste?
Not sure what to do with your non-recyclable waste? Create green construction material with an EcoBrick and keep your litter out of the ocean and landfills. All you need is a clean plastic bottle to pack tightly with clean, dry, non-biodegradable, non-recyclable household waste. Think old balloons, dog food packets, sweet and chocolate foil wrappings, plastic straws, and toothbrushes. Drop it off at one of the points across the country, and it’ll be used as building materials to create insulative structures and colourful furniture.
Remember, change starts with you! If you can take small daily steps every day in your corner, it’ll quickly and easily become part of your lifestyle and slowly but surely make a greater global impact. You and your household, company and community can all play a part in conserving our precious natural resources, reducing your consumption, reusing, and repairing the items you can and recycling those you can’t. Together we can conquer the damaging effects of littering and pollution and look forward to a healthier environment and more sustainable tomorrow.
Date Published: 04 October 2021