7 simple tips for recycling you can try today!
Recycling in the UK is currently at a low point. In the UK only 44% of household waste is actually recycled and this number is falling. According to a report in the Guardian, most of the plastic that is not recycled in the UK will actually be sent abroad to places like Bangladesh. This just doesn’t seem good enough. When consideration is given to the advances we have made in being able to reuse plastic, why is the number still so low?
“Each year the average UK household uses 480 plastic bottles , but only recycles 270 of them – meaning nearly half (44%) are NOT put in the recycling.”
One of the most commonly cited reasons for many people choosing not to recycle is because they are confused by what they can and cannot recycle. Fear not because I am going to give you the low down on recycling in easy steps.
Just Remember to R E C Y C L E
If you have a recycling bin, recycling is easy you just have to know which colour bin corresponds to which items you can put in it. For example, I have a green bin for regular household waste, a blue bin for recycling and a brown bin for garden waste. I also know that in Kent, households are provided with a kitchen top food waste bin which they can put out to be collected. This food waste is then sent to the local council to be composted.
R – Recycle, reuse and realise.
Recycling is more than just placing items in a bin, it is the realisation that you are helping to reverse years of damage done to the planet by our excessive use of plastic. You can help to save the oceans, preserve our natural ecosystem and make our world a safe, healthier place to live.
If you have old furniture why not try to reuse it by upcycling it. There is a great guide to upcycling on Upcyclethat.com. They have some great ideas such as this retro telephone lamp:
Not feeling creative? That’s fine then you can also put your old items on Gumtree or Freecycle and offer them to people who may not be able to afford brand new items. Just make sure your item is clean and still in a usable condition.
Reuse plastic bags for shopping if they are still in good condition. Clean bottles before you place them in the recycling bin and check if labels and caps are recyclable as some are not.
Save up glass bottles and batteries and take them to your local recycling banks. The Recycle More website has a handy bank locator which will tell you of all the recycling banks near you and what materials can be recycled.
E – Equipment
You probably already have a bin for household waste and bin for recycling but if you are not sure or if you want to get a recycling bin or garden waste bin then you should contact your local council.
So what can you put in each bin? Each council has different coloured bins for different items but here is a list of items you can normally place in each bin. Please check with your local council first.
Green Bin / Black Bin:
Only materials that cannot be recycled can be put into your green bin. This includes:
bagged animal or pet waste
bagged disposable nappies and sanitary products
cool ashes from fires
polystyrene, food trays and packaging
used kitchen roll and tissue, and
bagged food waste.
Only materials that can be recycled can be put into your blue bin.
Paper: newspapers, magazines, envelopes, directories, catalogues, office paper
Cardboard: greetings cards, cereal boxes, egg boxes, general packages
Plastic bottles and yoghurt pots: pop and milk bottles, cleaning product bottles, toiletry bottles, margarine tubs
Food tins, drink cans and aerosols: clean food tins, empty aerosol cans, drinks cans.
Check with your local council where you can recycle certain items if you are unsure. Visit Gov.uk and pop in your postcode. The website will give you details of your local councils recycling policies and contact details.
In some areas the brown bin is used for garden waste and in others the brown bins are used for glass.
C – Compost
If you have a garden then you more than likely have enough room for a compost bin or if a wormery. This is a great environmentally friendly way to recycle your food waste. I chose to also purchase a kitchen top compost bin so I can quickly and easily store all of my food waste until I take it out to the compost bin. Some local councils may offer discounts on compost bins or may provide a composting service.
Compost bins come in all different shapes and sizes so there is bound to be a compost bin for everyone. You could get creative and make your own compost bin with this helpful diy guide from Gardenersworld.com.
Wormeries are a little bit more expensive than traditional compost bins but you will get that nutrient dense compost quicker. Wormeries are normally comprised of two compartments and yes, you guessed it the little wormies do all the hard work of mulching down that food waste into a nutritious liquid for your plants and vegetables. Here is a quick guide to wormeries.
Check out https://getcomposting.com/ as they work with local councils to reduce the cost of composting.
Y – Youtube is a weird and wonderful place but can also be educational from time to time. Go and check out the plethora of videos on recycling, up-cycling, composting and other useful hints and tips for saving the environment.
To get you started here is a video from Recycle Now make sure you subscribe to them for the latest videos and updates.
C – Campaign, everyone has a voice and the right to be heard. Get in touch with local campaign groups and volunteer. You could volunteer to help clean up that patch of land that is known for fly tipping or if you are the more social type get out and about and talk to people about the benefits of recycling.
Start a community garden and offer to compost other peoples food waste, offer to teach free classes on recycling or upcycling in your spare time.
L – Labels, recycling labels in the UK can be confusing as there are so many. Here is a quick video on the main recycling labels found in the UK. Also check out this great guide from Recycle Now .
E – Educate, not only yourself but others around you. Tell them of the benefits of recycling and if they still need convincing send them to this post.
Learning is something that we continue to do throughout our lives and is an important aspect of developing who we are. Browse the internet for recycling information. Here are a few of my favourite sites because they are easy to understand yet informative:
This planet does not just belong to us, it belongs to every living creature and plant. As we are the most technologically advanced species on the planet, it falls to us to make sure that we protect the earth from harm and keep the planet green.