Most of us want to do better for the environment, but it’s not always easy to do everything we can to reduce waste, reuse items and recycle. Here’s some of the easy ways recycle at home, kerbside and in your community.
Recycling is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste (although my husband seems to continue to think there’s no point). Especially for those of us who have kerbside collections, it’s as easy as knowing what items your council will collect, and how frequently you can put them out.
Easy ways to recycle
If you’re in the UK, there’s a ‘where to recycle’ checker which can tell you which items can be recycled and how as a start point. Then it’s off to find out from your local council. Don’t forget that what they recycle will change – ours still takes small electrical items and batteries, but no longer takes light bulbs like it used to.
Check out what’s available at supermarkets and local recycling centre. Nowadays supermarkets take a lot more items. As well as the usual glass recycling and clothing out in the car parks, they’ll usually have soft plastic film and plastic bag recycling at the front of store. Batteries collection is often in store as well. I’ve also seen make up collection points in Sainsbury’s.
Textiles/clothing. Obviously start with charity shops or set up a swishing event to swap clothes you no longer want. But many clothing retailers now have collection points for unwanted clothes – some even taking in clothes from other retailers. Sometimes you can get points or vouchers to spend. Otherwise, check if your kerbside collection picks up textiles. And find out whether there’s a bags2schools collection happening to raise school funds at your local schools. Or simply take textiles or clothes to recycling centres.
Look for mobile phone trade in options if you’re buying a new phone. Alternatively, sell your phone on to a recycling outlet, or if it’s old and broken it could be recycled.
Look out for deposit return schemes with bottles and cans. Some countries have deposit return schemes where you can return glass bottles and drinks cans to stores or collection machines, and get your deposit back.
At Terracycle you can recycle a whole variety of usually non recyclable packaging from toiletries to foods. Sign up as a private recycler (it means needing quite a bit of space as you’ll need to send in full boxes to make it worth doing). Or find a nearby community drop off location. Alternatively you can set up as a public drop off location – get a group together to store and send
Medicine tablet packs are hard to find recycling point. Superdrug used to take them, but it seems most no longer do. Check whether you have a local Lidl or Aldi which takes them, and set up a community collection if there’s not a local shop who’ll take them in. We have a lady in a nearby village who puts a wheely bin for people to drop theirs in. Then she takes them to the shop once it’s full.
Find out if a scrapman comes round your area and leave large items out, in particular with lots of metal. They’ll usually take it for free.
If you can’t get to your local recycling centre, look up a local bulky waste collection service. Our council wll collect bulky items like white goods and appliances, mattresses etc, although there is a cost. It can be cheaper than getting a big enough vehicle to take it to the recycling centre which now charge as well for taking many items (small or large).
Have a system at home. Whether it’s bags, bins or containers, it will vary depending on how recycling is collected. Some areas you have to separate different packaging, others you can have it all together.
Make sure everyone in your house follows the system. It’s not always easy to do this. I quite often have to remove the wrong items that have been put in the indoors recycling bin. I find I’ve got more chance of recycling being done in our house by having the recycling bin in the kitchen and the residual waste bin in the utility room.
Compost your food waste where possible. We now have weekly food waste collections which in theory are great. But our kerbside caddies aren’t strong enough to cope with being chucked back on the ground after emptying. The handle one side always falls out when carrying it down our long drive. Ours got broken the first time it was collected but was still usable. However now after the dustman left it too far out on the drive, the tractors have destroyed it. So it’s useless after less than 6 months of use.
What other tips do you have for easy ways to recycle in your home and community?