Today is recycling day for me. It is a repeating event in my calendar, with a reminder set for me to put out the recycling for the collectors. This is a very simple act, that many seem to have huge difficulties with. I’m not sure if it is down to laziness or lack of education, but it really surprises me how many people fail to recycle items that are clearly recyclable.
Since recently moving into this new place, I realized that the accommodation did not have a simple system of recycling. The system actually made it more difficult as it created a couple of extra stages to the process of throwing something away. I therefore decided to make this process more streamlined, in an attempt to encourage an increased catchment of recycled products.
First thing I did was find out what they collect? I found an information sheet, but calling them would have been the way to do it if i had not found this info. I also found out what they didn’t collect, and found an alternative place to recycle that stuff.
Once that tiny hurdle had been cleared, I created dividers to separate the items out as one throws them away. We are blessed with the space under a counter in the kitchen, which lends itself perfectly to this function. As you can see from my pictures I used a bunch of boxes that we already had lying around and created a space with labeling to aid in the correct placement of the items.
If the containers in the kitchen become full, then I move the contents to a larger set of similarly labelled receptacles in the garage, where the items sit until the day comes to move them out for collection.
It’s all very simple and problem free.
The only time consuming part is either removing labels from tins or washing out all the bottles, cans, etc. However, as a friend advised me, for this process, you should use the dirty dishwater that is left after you have washed all the dishes.
Is recycling worth it?
Recycling as it stands, is actually downcycling. We are merely prolonging the life of something until it can no longer be downcycled and finally becomes waste. There is also an argument that suggests the actual process of downcycling (commonly referred to as recycling) fills the air with toxic contaminants. Which is true. But the actual creation of the item not only uses up natural resources, but creates the toxins in the first place. So downcycling is the best option we have until containers are redesigned from the bottom up; to be completely recyclable and made from non toxic materials using a non toxic producing method.
My only concern with recycling is the false sense of security it offers people. Just because you are recycling it, does not mean you should feel obliged to use more of it, or treat the item with any less respect. You are still damaging the earth by using recycled or recyclable products, you are just damaging it more slowly. To really help the situation buy only unpackaged items. Try it one day. When you go grocery shopping, get your entire shop with no packaging.
I would like to thank:-
1) The Cradle to Cradle Concept, for their positive work outlined in their book and also for the inception of their truly fantastic outlook on the redesign of the way we think about creating products.
2) The Clean Bin Project – for highlighting the amount of waste we create unconsciously throughout our lives and for the original inspiration of sorting out the bins under the sink.
3) You, the person reading this blog. For taking the time to care and for putting the wheels in motion to look after our planet, no matter how small a contribution you make, it does make a difference.