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What mistakes are you making when recycling at home?
Like most parents I am trying to teach my children to be environmentally conscious and live more sustainably. Recycling is simple, effective, and something the whole family can participate in.
To many people, recycling conjures up green bins and cardboard boxes. Some may think about it and groan. Find it time consuming after a long day at work. Tossing things in the recycling bin out of sheer hope. Sometimes, we want things to be recyclable, so we put them in the recycling bin. While this eco-conscious practice is a great habit to get into, it is easy to make mistakes when recycling.
Check out the most common mistakes we made at home and follow our tips how to be more effective when recycling.
5 Recycling mistakes everybody makes #Cleanupyouract.
#Don’t sort items into separate plastic bags.
Do you try and be organised and put all the cans in one bag and paper in another? Do you neatly tie the top? Stop doing this. Plastic bags slow down the automated recycling process. They threaten wildlife so aim to stop using plastic bags all together and buy a bag for life. Many supermarkets feature a plastic bag bin specifically for recycling this difficult material.
If you want to follow a simple tip to more effective recycling, flatten cardboard boxes so that you can fit more recyclables into your bin.
#Don’t throw greasy pizza boxes in the bin.
While cardboard is recyclable, grease can damage the material and render it impossible to recycle. Beyond pizza boxes, paper napkins, plates, and towels are all non-recyclable for this reason. Newspapers used to hold your order of chips and most cardboard take-away boxes are better placed into a normal bin or a compost bin unless they can be suitably cleaned.
#Not all paper goes in the green bin.
Because paper is in such high demand in our society, paper recycling is important. Wrapping paper without foil, decorations and ribbons can be recycled. Some items that are mainly composed of paper also have a small amount of wax, plastic or foil added to them. So Post-Its and receipts cannot be recycled, and some juice and soymilk cartons. Shredding paper shortens and weakens the length of the paper fiber, so it is best to compost it.
#Don’t take ‘recyclable’ as law.
A packet may tell you it can be recycled but that is not always the case. I call it ‘fake feel-good’ recycling. MacDonald’s Happy Meal toys which many cast into recycling centres because of little triangular marks end up in landfill.
#Know what you can and can’t recycle.
Read up on your local councils recycling guidelines and make sure you don’t send anything that will contaminate the processing. Consider buying products that are easier to recycle. For example, a paperboard egg carton instead of a Styrofoam one. When going out, stop at your local recycling centre and drop off anything that was not picked up by your curbside service.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Recycling is not actually the most important thing! It is the end of the chain, the first step is reducing the amount that we consume, buying plastic free and shifting our purchasing to well-designed products and services. Buying quality and ecologically friendly products and maintain them, reusing rather than getting sucked into a ‘single use’ mentality, are important steps to reducing what goes to landfill. It can seem like a huge effort to drastically change your lifestyle but instead think of making small steps, small changes. Recycling is just one way to save your family money. Also, be safe. For example, plastic water bottles are not made for multiple uses and can break down, releasing chemicals, especially when exposed to heat (dishwasher) and cold (fridge).
Supporting recycling means feeding this loop by not only recycling, but also supporting recycled products. Now I am not going to lie, sometimes this means more expensive products, but they will save you in the long term. There is a saying if you don’t love something, let it go. Sort through your wardrobe. That said, don’t go and throw out everything plastic in your home, treat it well, make it last. Unlike glass, and metals, plastic cannot be recycled infinitely. Unwanted items can go to charity. Make it a rule in your house that nothing useable goes in the bin until you’ve given the Freecycle community a fair shot at it.
Buy rechargeable batteries. It takes 1,000 regular batteries to equal the lifespan of one rechargeable battery.
Composting is food-based recycling!
Our kitchen is slowly becoming more recycling friendly. We have an area to store washed recyclable items, a food bin and are looking to upgrade our old broken swing bin. Brabantia waste bins are made for recycling, but recyclable too. The Bo Touch Bin, Bo pedal bin and Sort & Go are double waste bins with 2 or 3 partitions to help you in separating your waste. What I love about these bins is that they are sustainably made but also simple and stylish. Grab a 3-litre sort and go for tabletop waste like eggshells and coffee grounds and a matching colour large capacity Brabantia 40 litre Pedal bin for the kitchen. Want to keep bins out of sight? Buy a built-in bin to live under the sink. The easier it is to recycle the more it becomes second nature to you. Forget smelly green council bins and think chic, clean and sleek with an extensive 10-year guarantee on all Brabantia waste bins.
Hopefully, you have learned some smart and simple tips to increase your recycling efforts at home.
What would make recycling easier for you and your family, do you have any tricks to make it more efficient, do your children enjoy sorting tins from bottles?