National Recycling Day

The impact of waste on our planet is increasingly concerning year on year.

During lockdown I came to realise how much my family consumes, how much single-use plastic we produce and put into bins every day. Particularly when I was taking out my own refuse! I realised that when my family were going out to school and work, I didn’t have a clear idea of how much plastic and general waste we were using that was being disposed of elsewhere. When everyone was home, it felt like I had a plastic pandemic in my own kitchen!

I’ve always been one to recycle – in so far as our services allow – but it made me think that we definitely need to start at the source and eliminate the purchase of products in single use plastic and non-recyclable packaging.

So I set off in search of planet friendly products – and trust me I’ve been hard pressed to find them, especially for fresh meat and produce! Sadly the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped this cause, since previously you could buy unwrapped vegetables from the green grocer but now everything is packaged in plastic.

As a consumer who seeks convenience, no doubt like you, I often settle for the easy, fast solution to get the meal on the table. But because I have made the decision to no longer to have a general waste bin, for that I have paid the price. You see, even though we were recycling as much as we could and putting single use plastic into ecobricks, I was still finding that my general waste bin was exploding by the end of each day.

The general waste bin is just too easy – a place where we plonk things out of unconscious habit. Even though I thought I had trained my children to think about every piece of waste, they don’t when they’re in a hurry. So what did I do? I took away the bin.

Of course we still have bins but these bins are very specific. We only put into our recycle bins, what is recyclable. We ecobrick softer non-recyclable plastics, and we compost anything that is organic.

If you make ecobricks at home, you will know that every bit of plastic that goes in there must be clean and dry so what this means in my home is that every bit of food packaging has to be washed and hung out to dry. At home our wash line has become a sight for sore eyes – a fascinating combination of laundry and plastic!

The decision to eliminate general waste has forced my family, every time they decide to dispose of something, to think about where every individual item must go. So tiresome is this process that my daughters have even begun to think about what they ask me to buy and that is exactly the outcome I wanted. It has resulted in us thinking about how a product is packaged, about biodegradable hygiene products and even consideration of cruelty-free beauty products.

So practically, how does this look?

  1. You need to understand what can be recycled and be able to sort it accordingly.
  2. Recycling services need to be available in your area or you should find a depot that you can deliver to
  3. All bottles and tubs must be rinsed before they are put in bins
  4. Understand the makings of an ecobrick. Your plastic must be clean and compacted into the bottle to attain the minimum weight.
  5. Choose the right composting solution for your home. If you have the space, you can compost using a large bin or a designated area outside. If you live in an apartment, for example, you might choose a worm bin , which is incredibly effective. In both instances, you’ll need to find a use for what you have composted. It makes a great fertiliser for gardens but also a liquid plant food for indoor plants. Organic compost activators are a must, and you can and these at most garden centres.
  6. Choose wisely and consciously, support suppliers who don’t sell products in single-use plastic but organic and biodegradable products. Live sustainably and don’t ever think that one small change won’t make a difference.

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