5 Tips To Help You Recycle At Home
Despite the recent UK government announcements, it seems that many of us will still be at home for a considerable about of time. As our home offices get more and more chaotic and our living rooms continue to be our only refuge, it could be time to start thinking about having a spring clean around your home.
While spring cleaning can be a great way to brighten your mood and lift your spirits, it can also be beneficial to the environment, if done correctly. A report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), revealed that British household create over 26 million tones of waste each year. In the battle to reduce waste consumption in your household during your spring clean, try out our top 5 recycling tips.
1. Know What Can Be Recycled
It might come as a surprise that around 4% of all recycling is rejected by recycling centres because of contamination. The recycling becomes contaminated when materials that cannot be recycled are thrown into the same pile as materials that can be recycled. This 4% equates to about 497,000 tonnes of contaminated recycling sent to landfill sites each year.
These stats highlight how important it is to know exactly what can and can’t be recycled. We have provided a basic recycling guideline that you can follow, but checking the details with your bin provide is always recommended as there can be specific recycling differences from place to place.
- Paper and cardboard: Paper is a widely recyclable material so items such as books, magazines, letters, posters, coloured paper, can all be recycled. Cardboard is also widely recyclable as long as it has no food grease on it. Items such as cereal boxes, tissue boxes, delivery boxes, are all recyclable, but cardboard used for foods such as takeaway pizzas could have a lot of grease inside and therefore can’t be recycled.
- Plastic: Most recyclable plastics will have a label to indicate that they can be recycled. This label is called the Mobius Loop and usually appears as three green arrows in the shape of a triangle. Plastic utensils aren’t recyclable due to their low-quality plastic material. Plastic bags are also not recyclable but can be reused or are sometimes accepted by supermarkets.
- Aluminium: Aluminium cans are widely recyclable, just remember to wash out any remaining liquid before throwing it away. Crisp packets are made from a mix of plastic and aluminium which has been tightly laminated together, these layers cannot be separated which makes them non-recyclable.
- Glass: Most glass containers can be recycled but not if they are shattered as this can be dangerous and can create a contaminated recycled group. Remember to wash off any food waste before recycling.
2. Don’t Wishcycle
Sometimes known as aspirational recycling, wishcycling is a new term that is defined as the process of adding an item to your recycling bin without knowing if it’s actually recyclable or hoping that it will be.
It’s something we’ve probably all done in the past with good intentions. Nobody wants to generate excess waste, but we don’t always have time to double check the rules either. However, wishcycling can be a much larger issue than we think as it only takes one non-recyclable item to contaminate an entire batch of recycled products. Wishcycling can also complicate the sorting process in recycling centres as the contaminated materials usually lead to time delays and extra sorting costs.
The best way to combat wishcycling during your spring clean is simply to know exactly what you can and can’t recycle. We hope our list above can help you make more environmentally conscious decisions while spring cleaning.
3. Start Out Small
It’s great if you have the enthusiasm to go room to room and correctly dispose of everything you no longer need in your home, but in practice this can be exhausting work and you may end up stopping halfway through, reluctant to return to it. This is why you should always start out small.
Think of the area in your house that needs the most attention. Maybe it’s all the expired food in the back of your cupboard that you keep ignoring or maybe it’s the piles of papers stacked up beside your computer while you’ve been working from home. Whatever it may be, start with that and expand out from there. Those expired food jars can be recycled once washed out, and those stacks of paper are surprisingly widely recyclable too. Just start out small and always keep in mind what can be recycled to help both yourself and the environment.
It’s not always about throwing away what you no longer need, sometimes it’s just about finding a place for everything you want to keep. Being on top of what goes into each room can really help reduce unwanted items and unnecessary waste, and as cleaning guru Marie Kondo states, “Once you have experienced what it’s like to have a truly ordered house, you’ll feel your whole world brighten,” which is a great added benefit.
There are many ways to organise during a spring clean that can also be eco-friendly. Reusing old shoeboxes, jars and baskets as storage containers is a great way of keeping organised without having to buy extra. Having reusable bags placed by your front door or in your car will guarantee that you’ll never have to resort to buying single use carrier bags.
Placing small recycling bins all around your house can also help to prevent unwanted clutter – you have a lot of drinks cans in your kitchen? Place an aluminium bin in there, you have a lot of useless paper in your office? Place a paper bin by your desk. These bins will not only help remove rubbish but also help you to recycle far more frequently.
A different way of recycling is to reuse what you already own instead of throwing it away. As you prepare for your spring clean, keep a hold of old towels, clothes and bedding that you no longer want as they can be cut up and made into washable cleaning rags instead. Old toothbrushes can also be reused as scrubbing brushing for those small, difficult to reach areas.
Like the previously mentioned shoeboxes, jars and baskets, tissue boxes can be an easy place to store and hide plastic bags; and empty condiment bottles, once cleaned, can be a great tool for icing cakes or pouring out pancake batter.
At Love Paper, we have lots of blog posts that will inspire you to reuse all the unwanted paper products you have lying around. From using paper coffee cups as plant pots to creating fun holiday decorations, paper is one of the most versatile material that can be reused throughout the year.