This World Environment Day (June 5th), we ask that you read labels carefully and recycling responsibly rather than getting caught up in the habit of ‘wish-cycling’, where you dump it in the recycling bin and hope for the best. Rather than going on to re-born as something new, if this waste isn’t disposed of correctly, it puts further pressure on and contaminates other materials within the system, often ending up sent to landfill or in the ocean. With a few simple changes, you can make a difference.
We get it, many recycling labels are pretty confusing. Unless you’re ‘au fait’ with all the terms and symbols, it’s not always an easy code to decipher. However, there are resources out there to help you understand what the labels mean and how to handle your rubbish. Plastic symbols are probably the most puzzling of all but there is logic behind what the numbers mean, as the digit simply tells you what type of plastic material it is and you can then look up whether that can be recycled locally.
You’ve translated the labels but now you have to work out if your local council actually recycles the materials you’ve got. Not all boroughs are the same, so you need to find out what your local authority will accept in your recycling bin.
Wish-cycling can damage sorting systems at facilities and can contaminate other recyclable items, so think carefully before you add to your curbside collection. Some of these items are too contaminated to be recycled but others can be processed easily.
Remember recycling etiquette
You don’t need to spend hours washing everything with soap and water but it does make things more likely to be recycled if you have given things a quick rinse before you put them in the bin. That way leftover food residue won’t ruin your other recycling.
Also, please do recycle your food waste and garden waste in the relevant bins – making sure no plastic or glass accidentally finds its way in there – because this green waste plays an important role in making composts, as we move away from the use of peat. Of course, you could get your own compost bin in the garden and make your own organic compost at home.
Buy recycled and recyclable
Let’s keep that circular economy turning but making responsible purchasing decisions. With so many options available now, it really isn’t that difficult. Companies will want to flag up the fact that their product or packaging contains recycled material or that it can be recycled again once used, so just keep an eye out for that messaging on packaging or promotional material and it’s just a quick decision to go for that item instead of one that will end up in landfill.
For example, Colgate Smile For Good toothpaste comes in a recyclable tube, so think twice about picking up one you know will end up in a rubbish bin; whilst supermarkets offer shopping bags made from recycled plastic bottles – a far better choice that one made from virgin materials and that might end up in landfill.
Don’t buy into fads with unethical ‘fast furniture’. Our stylish and sustainable Nassau collection utilizes game-changing recycled plastics to help clear the world’s oceans and waterways of waste, whilst providing durable and long-lasting furniture that you can enjoy for years to come. It’s still chic and modern but it won’t last just 5 minutes, is manufactured from recycled ocean waste and plastic pollution in developing countries, and is 100% recyclable at the end of its life. We are particularly proud of the difference Nassau powered by Social Plastic makes to our planet, as we get ready to mark both World Environment Day (June 5th) and World Oceans Day (June 8th) this month.
The biggest problem of all is the inability to curb the people’s use of plastic. Of course, firms should be doing more to reduce plastic in their products and packaging and also in encouraging consumers to make the change but, sadly, we’re not there yet. In the meantime, it’s up to you to cut down.
Buy your fruit and veg loose rather than packed in plastic bags and punnets; get yourself a re-usable water bottle and carry it with you; if you want like sparkling water, opt for glass bottles rather than plastic; steer clear of cling film, when you can use alternatives like compostable food wrap or beeswax wrap; explore refillable soap and cleaning products for your home, such as Faith in Nature, Smol, Ecover and Method; and, if you have a coffee machine at home or work, choose compostable or recyclable aluminium coffee pods rather than plastic counterparts.