There is no doubt that recycling has been making news lately and not for good reasons. Recycling is important but perhaps we need to look higher up the waste hierarchy to do better. In short instead of recycling lets focus on avoiding or at least reducing it.
So what are some of the things that we can do with things that we might ordinarily recycle or how can we avoid it in the first place.
Instead of putting glass jars in recycling – reuse them for storage. They can be a great way to collect those bread tags – that call also be recycled at many locations such as local schools, community centres etc or look for other drop off locations online.
Buy secondhand – whether you are buying from an opshop, secondhand market, garage sale or an online advert – these purchases usually come without packaging. That means you don’t have to think about how to recycle it.
Bake your own biscuits or cakes. Some of us remember the pleasure of our mother or grandmother baking – some of you still do it yourself! Here is a good excuse to try some new biscuit recipes. They also come out of your oven with no packaging. It is hard to beat a home-made biscuit for taste!
Instead of buying prepackaged food, shop where you can take your own containers – cloth bags for fruit & veg, reusable containers for meat, grains and other bulk foods. Check out local food collectives, no packaging food stores and bulk food stores.
Grow your own fruit & veggies. This has the added advantage of local, in-season, fresh produce – you know where it came from and all the packaging is compostable – Win-Win! If you don’t have much space join a community garden, food is free or check out local produce swaps.
Buy quality items that are designed to last and be repaired. The less you have to buy the less packaging you have to deal with.
Take your small items along to a Repair Cafe to learn how to repair it yourself or contact a trades-person for large, electrical, mechanical or furniture items. If you don’t have one of those in your community, consider setting one up.
Sharing is the best way to access items you use infrequently or only once or twice. Look for toy and tool libraries, cloth nappy libraries and check out the great range of items available through council libraries. Of course, neighbours used to be who we shared with, so knock on the door.
Recycling is much bigger than what your council collects in your kerbside bins. Know what else you can recycle: soft plastics at major supermarkets, spectacles through Lions Clubs, bread tags and bottle tops at some schools, community centres etc., batteries and e-waste at a variety of locations