Recycling has over the years become more mainstream. More and more households are keeping their solid waste aside to be picked up by local recyclers. Great news for the planet and the future of our kids.
Nowadays we can recycle much more than the standard paper and plastic. Lets take a look at what else we can recycle. On the road to a greener, cleaner Earth.
What can be recycled?
Here is a comprehensive list of what can be recycled and how to do it ethically and effectively.
Hard plastics, paper and cardboard, Metals (aluminium, tin and steel cans) and glass are common items that can be recycled.
I love this organization called Crayon Collection who collect old crayons via collection points, local initiatives and ambassador programs and use the crayons for environmental and art education programs.
Alternatively, you can start your own collection by creating a Facebook group where friends, schools and restaurants can participate. Donate the old crayons to children’s homes or art activities.
Pro tip: If you like up-cycling, why not collect the same colours and melt them down to form new crayons? You can buy baking moulds in funky shapes for extra fun for the kids.
Batteries are one of those things that everyone has a drawer or shoebox full of. I don’t know why we hoard unuseable batteries. Maybe because we know we don’t want them in our landfills. Well, they are 100% recyclable, it’s just about finding the best place. Keep collecting them until you have a nice big box to hand over.
You can search for local places to “recycle batteries” or if you live in the UK you can order a box from Recycle More UK. They deliver empty boxes and collect filled boxes. It can not get any easier to recycle!
What a random thing to recycle? But once you see it written down it makes quite a lot of sense. Carpets contribute to 400,000 tons of waste in the UK per year. I certainly did not know or even consider carpet waste.
Well Carpet Recycling UK to the rescue! They take in commercial and domestic carpets. They will even help you to find used carpets tiles. Give them good steam and they are as good as new. (And at a fraction of the price)
Electronics – computers, cellphones and more.
I don’t know about you but I have a box of cellphones since the days of Nokia 3310 days. Or what about those bags of cables of which you have no idea what they are used for but you keep them, “in case”.
In the UK alone we are responsible for around 1.5 million tonnes of electronic waste, and only recycle around 17 per cent of thisVIROGREEN
Well, E-waste recycling is a huge thing and a great way to make a difference. You can collect all the E-waste from your friends and families, have a drive at work and offer them to your nearest E-waste recycling depo. I also love this idea because it frees up space in your home and life. What are you going to do with that fabulous free drawer now?
Virogreen is a great UK based company out to make a difference. Not only do they recycle E-Waste effectively but also wipe all data from any devices you wish to recycle for safe handling.
This is another interesting recyclable item. I personally know of a few people that use inhalers and never really considered what they do with them after.
GSK UK is running a programme called Complete the Cycle where they are promoting the recycling of inhalers. In 6 years, not in the current environmental awareness boom, they recycled 1.2 million inhalers, equivalent to more than 5000 cars emission! Find a nearby pharmacy or hospital near you that is a participator.
In the UK alone around 330 million shoes are sold each year and most of those shoes end up in landfills. Instead of chucking them out, why not donate them to organisations that offer them to the less fortunate or if they are in bad shape, there are also initiatives to recycle them and use them in other industries.
Until I started going green in my life, I had a massive makeup collection. I really only used a few items and the rest got chucked away. I look back now and shudder at the thought. Why didn’t I recycle or pass it on?
If yours doesn’t, why not tag them on social media to create some accountability? And if that’s not your jam, recycle the products you do have as ethically as possible and in the future shop with sustainable, ethical beauty and skincare brands.
This is a big one. We all have prescription medication from days long gone that we keep for the future but never take because we don’t actually know what it is for.
Prescription waste is an ecological nightmare. It goes to our landfills, seeps into underground water and back into our eco-systems. Disposing of your prescription waste is so easy. Why not call your friends and family and collect from them and turn in a big bunch back to the pharmacy. Once medications have been sold they are legally not allowed to be reused or recycled so they are burned in incinerators.
Burning these substances is not the best option either. While turning the old drugs you do have is the best option, in the future, look into alternative healing modalities that use natural substances instead. These substances are made naturally and can return back to the earth safely.
If you have prescription drugs, empty them into a bag and give them to your nearest pharmacy or hospital. If you have any medical care items that you no longer want or use, Inter Care is a great organisation that uses it for medical care in Africa. A great initiative!
CD’s and DVD’s
Did you know that DVD’s and CD’s are not recyclable? I always thought that they feel in with plastic, but nope, not so!
CD’s and DVD recycling fall into their own category and you should give them to companies that specialize. One such company is Green Ant Recycling UK. They offer collection points all across the UK.
Fast fashion is under the microscope as a major contributor to landfill mass in industrialized countries. Tonnes upon tonnes of clothes land up in waste each year and are detrimental to our environment.
Sustainable fashion is booming and alongside those great ways to effectively recycle your old clothes. They either use the textiles to make new products or pass them on to the less fortunate.
One way to recycle clothes is to have a swap party with your friends. Bring all your old clothes, shoes and accessories with some food and wine and dig in. All the items left over can be given to charity or organisations that take in clothing items.
Flourescant light bulbs
Fluorescent light bulbs are considered hazardous waste because of the mercury contained in them. Recycle them ethically for your own health and that of the planet!
Biffa, a waste management service company in the UK deals with all sorts of waste and fluorescent bulbs being one of them. Inquire with them for recycling options. Speak to your boss at work and see if you can start an initiative at work as most fluorescent lighting is industry based.
For those that wear glasses, you may go through a number of pairs over the years. To save sending them to a landfill, you have two alternative options.
Firstly, if your specs are broken but the frames are ok, you can simply send your frames to an optician or you can use a company like FrameSavers who re-glaze frames. An excellent choice as frames are expensive!
If your pair of glasses are in perfect condition but your lenses requirements have changed, a great option is to donate them to give to people less fortunate. Glasses can be really expensive and this is a great way to help someone out. Lions Club of Chichester accept old specs and send them all over the world to people in need. They have collection bins at various opticians or you can send them in a parcel for free.
Clothing driers and washing machines
White goods are the appliances in your home and can all be recycled. They are broken down and their parts used to make new goods.
Currys UK is offering a great service! They offer a service to remove large household appliances at a nominal fee or, they can install new appliances and at the same time remove old ones. They then take said appliances for recycling.
Pro Tip: If you are handy or know someone that is, turn an old washing machine into a fire pit. A great way to warm up in winter!
If you change your own motor oil it is your responsibility to dispose of properly. Not only does pouring it down the drain cause serious pollution, but its also illegal. You can save all used oil and deposit it into a local oil bank.
Some car mechanics in your local areas will accept used oil. Keeping a large container in the garage and filling it up means you can go less frequently to deposit used oil.
Corks are not accepted as part of usual recycling programs. This means corks have nowhere else to go but landfills.
But with new recycling initiative cork is being recycled to make some pretty amazing stuff. Cork handbags, cork yoga mats, shoes and more. Casa Da Cortica, a Portugal based company has some amazing cork-based products.
What to do with your collection of corks? Recorked UK collects corks as part of an environmental, social and charitable program.
This is such a big one. How many of you have boxes of Christmas lights circa 1902? You say to yourself that you going to get those individual bulbs replaced. In the end, just purchase a new bunch. Convenience and cheap price overrides.
Recycle Now, a UK based company accepts Christmas lights and recycles them effectively and ethically.
Now more excuses
There you go folks, a comprehensive list of stuff other than paper, plastic and tin to recycle.
Take this as inspiration for any household items that you no longer need and want to chuck.
Simply type in the item followed by your location and recycle and for sure some or other option will pop up. Sometimes this means driving somewhere or collecting enough to recycle. Yes, its more effort than chucking it away but as a consumer, as a resident of planet earth, it is indeed your responsibility to take on that effort.