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Recycling at home

When I was 12 years old I was keen on all sorts of ‘saving the world’ tactics. Being a vego was one of them, rescuing battery hens another, as was regularly writing to government to state my concerns for the nation.

Recycling though, was a passion and it ran deep. I couldn’t understand why our country was not doing more. Sure, they had a refund system for bottles collected but that was pretty much it.

My school on the other hand, was the inspiration for my new found obsession. They recycled everything and had different bins for each material: food, paper, plastics and aluminum. They were way ahead of their time and I embraced it wholeheartedly.

I decided to implement the same techniques at home, so off I went and made makeshift bins out of cardboard and an airtight plastic bin for the compost. My family members were not too pleased about the extra sorting they now had to implement and my brother rejected the idea as a waste of time.

“One person isn’t going to make a difference”, he said and this quote has stuck with me for years.

Frustrated, I released an angry diatribe about his feeble attitude towards the environment and that it was this kind of thinking that got us into this mess and that yes, indeed, one person can make a difference! Ahh… to be young and passionate!

I don’t blame him for not wanting to participate as I was a little psycho about it (separating teabags into compost/paper/aluminum!) and it did seem like a very small contribution when the world itself so mammoth.

Thankfully, the attitude to recycling has progressed throughout the years and I believe that many people adopt the “one person can make a difference” approach. Where I live, the local council has a bin system in place that differentiates between compost (grass clippings etc), paper (paper/cardboard/cereal boxes), glass (aluminum/glass bottles/tin cans) and regular trash by the color of the bins lids. It is a fantastic, easy operating system which eliminates any excuses to not do your bit. There is, of course, still some opposition to recycling which is usually associated with costs involved.

Surely, the long-term benefits of recycling outweigh monetary expenditure. The argument that recycling is not efficient is naive to me as you just have to look at the enormous benefits. The most important being the reduction of landfill, production and energy costs, greenhouse gases and safer distribution or eradication of toxic material entering the environment.

If every single person did their tiny bit, I think we can make a prodigious difference if not for ourselves then for the future inhabitants of the Earth. I don’t care what anybody says!

If you want to do your bit then I would suggest looking at your home state’s recycling programs as every country and state differs. Also, writing letters to environment ministers or your local council with suggestions for recycling can inform the government of your concerns and hopefully propel change.

Some tips on reducing, reusing and recycling:

  • Purchase items manufactured with recycled products which ensures the ongoing demand for recycled materials
  • Contrary to popular belief, plastic bags do not go in the plastic recycling. They do not break down so try to remember to take a reusable shopping bag to the shops
  • Reuse items around the house such as rags and wipes, empty jars and mugs, party decorations, and gift wrap
  • Use food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic waste to create a compost pile. Compost is a rich soil amendment that can help increase water retention, decrease erosion, and replace chemical fertilizers
  • Conserve water. Use barrels to collect rain water and use it to water plants
  • Choose products that are reusable, rechargeable or recyclable rather than disposable
  • Buy products in concentrate, bulk, and in refillable containers
  • Donate unwanted goods to not-for-profit organizations
  • Use natural cleaning products to reduce the chemicals and chemical waste in your home
  • Do not deposit or sweep waste materials into the gutter. Paint, oil, litter, grass clippings, tree leaves or anything else in the gutter will pollute our waterways and end up in the ocean
  • Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Share your used books with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren

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