We can all be Recycling Heroes!

This means really thinking about everything we throw away. And shifting our thinking around waste from something that gets thrown out, to an opportunity and resource that can be made into something new.

Recycling "properly" (and diverting valuable material from landfill) can be deeply rewarding.This Friday is Global Recycling Day and the theme is #Recycling Heroes, so I wanted to share with you how you can up your 'recycling game' and enjoy the deep satisfaction of finding a purpose for all your unwanted items.

Global Recycling Day recognises people and activities that showcase the important role recycling plays in contributing to an environmentally stable planet. We are asked to think about "waste" as a resource and "recycling" as a key part of the circular economy, helping to protect our natural resources. But as with all things climate related we can't just leave it to others to do, we must all play our part. An example is considering your old mobile phone, not as waste, but as parts for a new mobile phone, hence reducing the need for mining new minerals.

Household recycling needs to be a lot more than just putting the plastic bottles and cans in the yellow kerbside bin and paper and cardboard in the blue bin (or whatever colour your local council issues!). Recycling "properly" is hunting down a solution for all things you are about to throw out and doing your utmost to avoid them ending up in landfill. This is making it sound hard - it's actually not, it just takes a little online research to find out what recycling services are on offer for items that don't belong in kerbside bins.

There are many waste companies out there recycling "hard to recycle" items that have done the work for you. And some offer free collection services from your home. So once you know who picks up what, you are set.

I feel so satisfied every 4 weeks when a free recycling service "RecycleSmart" (in Sydney) comes and picks up my 2 bags of recycling left on the footpath (you can do more than 2 bags for a fee). They even offer to collect on the same day as your weekly rubbish collection, so it's easy to remember! Yesterday I put out 2 bags of packaging foam (polystyrene) and bubble wrap that had been sitting in my garage.

I keep a big tub in my garage where I put any 'misfits' that can't go into kerbside recycling - like batteries, light bulbs and soft plastics. Every 4 weeks I sort through it and put it out to be collected. Other items this service collects include x-rays, aluminium coffee capsules, coffee cups, paint cans and e-waste. (If you can't find a similar collection service in your area you can utilise your local Council's speciality collections or take items to in-store recycling hubs.)

Next on my recycling "to do" list is cleaning out the bottom drawer in our study that is currently a tangle of cords and chargers for outdated phones and laptops. They can all be re-purposed in some way, so that's my next rainy day job.

If you haven't got time to do your research and sorting right now, don't take the easy route and throw the item in the bin. Hold onto it until you have time to find its new purpose.

Our list of things to do to become a Recycling Hero:

  1. Phone your council and find out when your e-waste collection is and mark it on your calendar.
  2. Find out what other specialty collection services your council offers - eg. mattress collection services or twice yearly household hard waste collections - mark them all on your calendar.
  3. Do some online research into private waste companies that recycle and repurpose 'misfit' items in your area.
  4. Create a "recycling tub" or box in your garage or spare room to put all those misfit items in until you organise a collection.
  5. Once you have found all the recycling services you need - give the details to neighbours and friends in your area, so they can become recycling heroes too!

Just a reminder here that our over-arching rule of consumption should be reducing what you buy in the first place, reusing, repurposing or repairing, before recycling.

We all need to think twice about what we throw away – seeing not waste, but opportunity. Let's embrace recycling "properly". Trust me, it feels good.

Read this next: Your Bank Might Be Undoing All Your Good Work For The Planet, But It's Easy To Fix

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