It All Starts With Getting It Right!
Recycle bins at home! They are not just there for show, they have specific rules to follow. Are you wondering how to use them properly? Learn some of the more simple aspects of what you can and can’t recycle.After all, how can one live a self sufficient lifestyle if they don’t have a clue on the subject of recycling? Many of you already have a good understanding of this but there are also many people who may find some of this information somewhat as a surprise, like I did. Living a sustainable lifestyle means I have to develop the correct habits and therefore I needed to find out all I could about what rubbish goes where.
There’s A Bit More To It Than I First Thought
It really is quite important to put the right things into the correct bins, for several reasons and I must admit, I didn’t really know some of this before investigating the matter. I THOUGHT I knew, but it turns out that I didn’t. Your council may be different but our council provides us with two garbage bins for collection. One is for general rubbish, the other is for recyclable items. A third, most likely for garden rubbish, will be added soon. Most states in Australia have a colour coded system where a yellow lid represents recyclable materials, and a red or green lidded one for general household waste. It would be helpful to separate further with other colour coded bins.
Do ALL Countries Need To Recycle?
Countries, states, towns and individuals generate enormous amounts of rubbish on a daily basis. Such rubbish consists mostly of packaging for our convenience foods and various throw away items. Yet some countries don’t have that kind of rubbish because the option of packaged items or throwaways is non-existent. Those countries wouldn’t even need to be concerned about recycling, minimising their garbage or their impact on the planet, let alone need educating on it. I would so love to go back to basics and live somewhere that problems like this don’t exist, I guess that’s what the crux of sustainable living is about.
Oh My! I’ve Been Doing It Wrong!
I recently found out that I have been doing it all wrong. I had the wrong information about recycling and was not aware of it. I had no idea there were some things that while seeming to be recyclable, they aren’t necessarily placed in the recycling bin. This upsets me a lot because I now know that I have hindered our recycling efforts by throwing things in the wrong bin while feeling like I was ‘helping’ the environment. I can’t go back and change it, but I can do something about it now. One, I can educate and inform other people of this mistake, and two, I can do it right starting this very moment. I also realised there is a common misconception about the little triangle on the plastic containers that has a number inside. I remember being told that this triangle meant that it was recyclable, but apparently it means no such thing. The number represents the type of plastic it is, and has nothing to do with recycling at all.
The following is a list of recycling can’s and can’t.
Items You CAN Put Into Your Recycling Bin
It’s rather a small list really
- glass bottles and jars
- steel cans
- aluminium, such as foil cooking trays and soft drink cans
- paper and newspaper
- cardboard, greetings cards, or magazines
- plastic containers, for example milk bottles, ice cream, yoghurt, margarine and soft drink and juice and water bottles.
- Milk and juice cartons
I thought that was everything, but there is actually a very comprehensive list here to help you work out if you can recycle something or not. It tells gives you information on just about anything you can think of and whether you can recycle, or put it in a bin, or even if it’s something that can’t go into any bin. It is well worth bookmarking. If in doubt, check it out.
Items You CANNOT Put Into Your Recycling Bin
Some of these items might be obvious, but some may not
- car parts
- foam rubber
- sharps (as in needles and syringes)
- white goods
- drinking glasses
- window glass
- white goods such as toasters
- light globes
- plastic wraps
- plastic bags
- shredded paper!!!
Some of the above list might be already known by many, but there are definitely a couple of them that may shock you.
So What Happens At The Other End?
I have never really given much thought to what happens to the recycled materials once they left my premises until now, when I am trying to learn all I can about recycling the right way. Here is a list of what your waste can be recycled into:
- Glass is melted down and remade into other bottles, jars Etc.
- Steel cans can be melted down to make new steel products
- Aluminium and foil trays often travel to different manufacturing places for recycling options and usage.
- Cardboard and paper are recycled back into more paper
- Milk and juice cartons produce high quality office paper when recycled
- Newspapers can be recycled back into newspaper printable paper. Newspaper also often ends up as insulation too.
- Plastics depending on what they are originally made from are granulated. They can become sleeping bag fillers, storm water pipes, plastic lids, plastic fencing stakes, electrical conduit, waterproof jackets, plastic poles, garden stakes, even used to hold oyster nets and so on. [Please note that the use of such plastic poles and stakes are not detrimental to the environment and replace wooden poles that may be treated and thus contaminate the soil or water they are used in]. Plastics are not recycled back as food containers due to the high risk of contamination during the sorting process. Another lesser known but rather new method of recycling plastics can be found in this article where plastics are turned into useful items like furniture, jewellery, footwear, Etc.
Some Simple Guidelines To Follow
Did you know these materials are actually mostly hand sorted by people and also by high tech equipment? Now would be an appropriate time to mention that if you follow a couple of simple rules you will be saving the planet so much more efficiently. If we aren’t doing the most simplest of tasks properly then the process we put into place to do it becomes null and void. In other words if we aren’t correctly recycling our waste then our efforts are literally wasted. It is very simple to just drop your recyclables into the bin and wheel it out for collection. Please be mindful of the following;
1. Rinse the recyclable items before putting them in the bin. The items are hand sorted and they should be free from contamination prior to being sent for manufacturing into other items. Crush them into smaller compact sizes.
2. Do not use plastic bags in a recycling bin. While plastic bags are designed to break down over time, and some supermarkets ask that you recycle plastic bags by bringing them back to the store and placing them in a special bin, they are not meant to go into a recycling bin. They break down, they are not recyclable in this way.
3. Plastic bottle tops can’t be sorted by hand easily so do not put them in the recycling bin. However, you can put them in the recycling bin if you fill a plastic bottle with tops (and plastic bread tags too) and put a lid on it. This will then be sent and recycled as mixed plastic.
4. Shredded paper, this was the mistake I was making, cannot go into the recycle bin due to impossibility to sort by hand. There are so many tiny scraps of it, that to attempt sorting would be very labour intensive and not very viable. The suggestion is to put into a garden or food garbage collection bin.
What About Recycling For Other Things?
For items such as white goods, furniture, clothing, toys or car parts, often there is a shop at the dump where you can take them to be resold. Charity organisations accept items to be dropped off and some offer a pick up service. Car parts can be taken to an auto-wrecker where people can buy second hand parts for their cars if they are mechanically minded and prefer to fix their own cars, or sold for scrap metal.
What’s The Next Step?
Now that I am better educated, I hope you have learned something about recycling that perhaps you didn’t know either. There was such a lot of media exposure in the early days about what to recycle and what not to, that it may be assumed that everyone just automatically knows the ropes. I wish I had paid more attention back then so that I wouldn’t be making the mistakes I had been up until now. But the good thing is we can correct our mistakes and choose to recycle better.
These are not the only options for recycling so I urge you to check out some others. Start by getting it right at the first port of call, your recycle bins at home. I would love to hear about your recycling woes or tips and tricks so please leave a comment for other people to gain the knowledge too and save our planet.
Thank you for reading,
Recycling Sprite image is ‘Young Free’ by Boians Cho Joo sourced from www.FreeDigitalPhotos.com