Tag Archives: Recycling

What would make you recycle more?

How much do you recycle?

Most of us recycle some of the time. Probably easy stuff like newspapers and cans. Maybe plastic bottles if your local authority collects them. There is lots more that can be recycled, of course, but many people simply don’t. Maybe they are confused about what is recyclable, can’t be bothered to wash things out or sort items into different bags or don’t really think it is important. So what would make you recycle more?

Our local council is about to bring in some quite dramatic changes to our rubbish collections, which might actually make people recycle more. At least I hope they recycle rather than deciding to tip everything by the side of the road or in a quiet beauty spot!

How to change behaviour and recycle more

Recycling has been a thing for long enough that you would have thought people’s behaviour would have changed and that they would be in the habit of recycling. However, this is clearly not the case. Some of my neighbours never seem to put out anything except black bins. A few of my work colleagues throw cans and plastic bottles in the general rubbish even though the bin is right next to a recycling container (I spend quite a lot of time fishing them out and telling people off – I am the Recycling Police! I am constantly trying to get them to recycle more). It is not surprising then that some local councils have decided to take more draconian measures to change residents’ habits.

From next week they will only collect 3 black bags of rubbish per household per fortnight. For a smallish household such as mine who recycle quite a lot already this is fine. We generally produce about that much, although I am sure we can do better. For large households I can see this is going to prove quite a challenge.

However, I’m not that sympathetic.  The fact is that all food waste can be recycled and this is a lot of what ends up in the bin (don’t get me started on how much is too much!). Raw stuff like peelings can be composted; cooked and raw can go in the food waste bin.  This includes meat, fish and bones, as well as teabags and bread. Glass bottles and jars can go in the recycling bin.  Rinsed cans, tins and metal aerosols can go in too. Don’t forget the aluminium foil. Paper and card can easily be recycled.

Perplexing plastics

Plastics seem to be the area that causes the most confusion. Because folk don’t know what is recyclable they seem to recycle hardly any of it. You can recycle bottles, yogurt and cream pots, butter, ice cream or margarine tubs and plastic trays like those meat and fruit arrive in – just rinse them first. There are other items like roll on deodorant containers that can be recycled but you might not think about it.  I met the local waste and recycling officer when I worked as a polling clerk the other week. He told me that they were now using an excellent company who could recycle almost any type of plastic, so to throw it all in and they would sort it at the other end. I am tempted to do this as we will seriously shrink the amount that goes into our black bags.

I had a quick look at the British Plastics Federation website and this is what it says:

Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled, however the extent to which they are recycled depends upon technical, economic and logistic factors. As a valuable and finite resource, the optimum recovery route for most plastic items at the ‘end-of-life’ is to be recycled, preferably back into a product that can then be recycled again and again and so on. The UK uses over 5 million tonnes of plastic each year of which an estimated 29% is currently being recovered or recycled.

How about a compost heap?

We compost most of the garden waste, but put weeds in for the council to collect. We struggle with bindweed and don’t want to risk any seeds or roots surviving in the compost and spreading. If you have no space for a compost heap then let the council take it away.

I think we are pretty good at recycling at Shoestring Cottage but I know we can improve. This is the kick up the backside that we need. I hope the rest of the town follows suit! Are you a rampant recycler and, if not, what would motivate you to recycle more?

Using it up and minimising waste

I have always liked to use things up – I just hate waste! It’s not just the financial aspects of wasting things that I object to; the impact on the environment is huge.

My daughters frequently start a new bottle of shampoo or ketchup because they can’t be bothered to get the last bit out of the old one. They are currently being intensively retrained – I have even pulled bottles out of the bathroom bin because a) they should be in the recycling (how many times!!) and b) they still have a bit in the bottom.

Scrape out the last bit of peanut butter or jam from the bottom of the jar. Turn containers upside down so that you can squeeze the last of the shampoo or shower gel out. Curl the toothpaste tube up and squeeze as hard as you can – you can use a bulldog clip to hold it in place – then when you can’t get any more out cut the tube to get at whatever there is left. Do the same with tubes of make-up. Dilute the last bit of bubble bath or washing up liquid with water so you can tip it out.

Reuse things too – I have a mound of margarine tubs in which I freeze leftovers or home-made soup. I always keep ice cream tubs (not that we eat that much ice cream) as they make great lunchboxes and are good for batch cooking. Cottage cheese containers are just right for taking a portion of stewed fruit in my lunchbox. I made some yesterday so that will be one of my 5 a day all week. When I buy my fruit in plastic bags (which I tend to from Aldi), I cut the top off to open the bag and empty the contents, then reuse the bags for other things. The same with bread bags. I never buy individual drinks in plastic bottles but they still seem to find their way into my house so DD3 takes a re-used bottle to school every day filled with water, squash or juice. I have seen recommendations to re-use the nets that oranges arrive in as pan scourers but didn’t find that too effective. Still, anything is worth a go.

I have a bag of toilet roll tubes that I will use to blanch my leeks again this year. As seed planting season approaches I will start to hang onto cardboard egg boxes to use as seed trays. I will also keep a few plastic milk containers as mini cloches.

I tend to carry my own bag around when shopping but, again, plastic carrier bags still arrive in the house so they get used to empty the cat litter trays into and as liners for the waste bins around the house.

I freeze leftover bits of veg, rice, potato, etc in one container in the freezer and use them to thicken my home made soups.

I keep old towels for when I dye my hair, and to rip up into rags for cleaning and DIY.

I am sure there is more I do, and can do. What about you?