Recycling: What Are The Issues?

Recycling is a vital part of protecting our environment. After refusing, reusing and reducing as much waste as we can, and passing on things we no longer need, fixing or repurposing stuff, everything else should be recycled as much as possible to prevent it ending up in landfill.

Recycling: What Are The Issues?

What can be recycled?

Plastic is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to recycling. Seareach carried out a poll recently of over 3,000 people aged over 18 asking them: “What frustrates you most about recycling?” The survey revealed that almost a quarter of people asked expressed confusion over what can and cannot be recycled. A whopping two thirds of the people surveyed suggested that consistent and easily understandable labelling is needed to combat this. A significant number of people (38%) also pointed out that technology could be put to good use, such as an app to scan barcodes for more recycling information.

Facilities

It also seems that recycling facilities vary across the country, so people in some areas find it more difficult to recycle items than others. Furthermore, there are concerns over whether local councils do actually recycle everything that goes in the recycling. The poll revealed that 65% felt councils need to be more transparent.

As quoted on Talking Retail, Stuart Jailer said: “A lot of people were concerned that even though we sort our packaging at home, once it gets to councils, we don’t know that it’s getting properly recycled. Instead, people worry that a lot of it is heading to landfills or being shipped abroad.”

Garbage. Overflowing bin. Pollution. Landfill

The study showed that a lot of people want to be able to recycle at their local supermarket, as well as having consistent and transparent recycling collections at home. Other ideas suggested included better options for residents of flats, whom often do not have sufficient recycling facilities in comparison to houses. Also, sheltered accommodation should have easily accessible recycling bins for the disabled and elderly. Deposit and refund schemes across the country would also be useful.

Manufacturers need to do more

The survey also showed that people feel there should be more onus on manufacturers, rather than just the consumer. 39% of respondents felt manufacturers use too much packaging. They also complained that many products still come in packaging that cannot be recycled. For example, manufacturers still use black plastic for food products which cannot be recycled despite complaints from consumers to stop. (British Plastics)

Change in materials

Consumers believe it is important that manufacturers stop using materials that cannot be easily recycled. Examples of this are foil/ plastic hybrids and plastic wrappers, as well as the black plastic mentioned above. It would also be beneficial if we improved recycling facilities so that more materials have a higher rate of recycling too.

Recycling symbol

Did you know? 

Here are some of my own recycling tips, that you might not already know:

• Silver foil can be scrunched up and put in recycling.

• Stretchy plastic, such as toilet roll wrappers, can be recycled in local supermarkets along with plastic bags.

• Multipack crisp packets (the outer foil/ plastic type packaging, not the individual bags) can be recycled at some supermarkets.

• Walkers have just announced a new partnership with TerraCycle UK to recycle all brands of crisp packets. You can send them direct to the company in an envelope or look out for recycling points coming soon.

What are your biggest issues with recycling? What are your top tips? Let me know in comments! 

*This is a collaborative post.

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday? #ZeroWasteWeek

So on Friday, for the final challenge of Zero Waste Week, I tried to manage a plastic- free day. Actually, I tried to manage a zero waste day! But how did I get on…

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday To End Zero Waste Week?

Day Out Struggles

We went to a local farm for a day out. We had a lovely time feeding the animals; of course this meant washing our hands afterwards for hygiene reasons! We had to use paper towels to dry our hands and Squiggle was the first to notice there were only landfill bins, no recycling. I guess this could be for sanitary purposes but it was still disappointing.

Potential solutions could have been to take our own cloth to dry our hands (I don’t know whether that could pose hygiene risks though, I suspect the farm might not allow it, if they saw us) or to take our paper towels home to recycle (same issue?) I am not really too convinced that we had much of an alternative in that scenario, unless we avoided feeding and stroking the animals, but depriving ourselves of such experiences is not really the idea! So sadly a few paper towels went to landfill.

Squiggle feeding goats at farm

My personal waste audit for the day:

Aluminium coke cans – recycled

Plastic container – reuse then recycle

Paper bag x 2 – recycled

Cardboard roll – recycled

Paper towels – landfill

Squiggle couldn’t go without her rice cakes, which come in packets, so that also created landfill.

Ok, so I didn’t manage an entirely zero waste, or even plastic-free, day. But I think I did pretty well! Now to find new and creative ways to tackle some more of those weak spots…

How did you get on with Zero Waste Week? What did you find most challenging? What is one thing you have improved on, thanks to these challenges? Let me know in comments!

Make A Splash: 5 Ways We Can All Help Our Oceans

We have to keep the momentum going so that we can come together and protect our ocean. Why? Because our ocean is absolutely essential for life itself – not just the food, but the oxygen and weather cycles of the planet all depend on the ocean. ” – Secretary of State John Kerry

No water, no life. No blue, no green. ” –  Sylvia Earle

The health of our oceans is crucial to all life; there is no denying that oceans hold huge importance. Ocean health matters. And right now the statistics are both depressing and worrying. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea (5gyres) and humans have managed to wipe out 90% of the ocean’s top predators in the past 55 years (Oceana).

If we all work together, scientists believe ocean health can be restored. Many of our world leaders are starting to recognise this and are taking action to protect and restore our oceans. For example, France has just declared a ban on single-use plates, cups and utensils from 2020, UK are following USA in banning microbeads and 100+ commitments totaling over $4.8 billion were made at Our Ocean conference in Washington DC, including the creation of 40 new or expanded marine protected areas. That is exciting news for ocean health! 

But there is so much more to do.

Here are some practical ways we can all help to protect and restore our oceans in everyday life…

1. Reduce, refuse and reuse.

Reduce your use of single-use plastics. Bags, cutlery, straws, cups, water bottles and containers all massively contribute to ocean pollution and harm ocean life. Plastic is meant to last, so using it for throw-away items is simply poor product design. Recycling helps of course, but even that has plenty of pitfalls, so is better as a back-up when using plastic can’t be avoided. Making more sustainable choices, such as refusing single-use plastic items and investing in reusable alternatives  is an excellent high impact way of helping our oceans.

Pledge to go #strawless with The Lonely Whale Foundation.

Take the #plasticfree pledge with 5gyres.


2. Check your seafood supply.

Choosing sustainable seafood is important because much of the world’s fish supply is under threat from over fishing. When you add in the issue of climate change and pollution, that is a huge problem for the future of fish on the menu.

Check out Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay aquarium for more about sustainable seafood. 

Marine Conservation Society also has useful information about how to make good choices when it comes to seafood. www.goodfishguide.org 


3. Ban microbeads from your home.

Choose products that do not contain microbeads. Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic found in some personal and beauty care products, such as toothpaste, scrubs, sunscreens and make-up. They wash off down the drain, then end up in oceans, where they become extremely toxic. They are eaten by fish and other marine life, which causes harm to other life and damages our own food supply too. There are movements to ban microbeads in UK and USA but this has not yet come into force and other countries are yet to follow suit. Removing microbeads from your home could save literally thousands of microbeads from entering our waterways PER DAY.

Find out which products do not contain microbeads www.beatthemicrobead.org


4. Switch energy suppliers.

Switching from fossil fuels to a green energy supplier is not only good for the environment but could also save you money too! 

Climate-changing gases from offshore oil and other fossil fuels are changing ocean chemistry, saturating the oceans with carbon dioxide and making them increasingly acidic.

Acidification is already leading to the degradation of coral reef habitats and negatively impacting some commercially important fisheries, like shellfish.” – Oceana

I personally switched to Good Energy but there are various clean energy companies to choose from. Making the switch is usually quick and easy but makes a massive difference.


5. Donate…

Monetary donations are one thing, but donating can come in many other forms too. One of the most powerful things anyone can donate- for free- is your voice. Sign petitions, share campaigns and start conversations. 

Ocean Unite has a list of actions, as do many other charities and organisations.

Time is another resource that can be donated, such as helping to clean up our beaches. See SAS (UK) and Ocean Conservancy for more information on organised beach clean ups. 

Or you could even donate your art! Visit Lonely Whale for further details or to donate.

 

Last but not least, share how you #MakeASplash to protect our oceans!


This article was written in dedication to #MakeASplash campaign. Thank you to the organisations and charities mentioned for inspiring and teaching me about our oceans. 

Eco Science Toys- Gravity Robot

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Squiggle really enjoyed this science activity and it was of educational value in various ways. I think possibly on average it may be more beneficial for younger children than it states on the box (it says ages 8 plus, my daughter is 5), although this is for safety reasons rather than the age it is aimed at for educational purposes. In other words supervision may be required.

My main gripe was the possible promotion of fizzy drinks to children but it might have worked with a substitute item such as a cardboard roll, we didn’t try this because Squiggle wanted hers to be similar to the picture on this occasion. Other than that it was a simple but fun activity that she got alot out of doing.