Wondering how plastic and other rubbish affects our oceans? Here’s a little video to explain.
A lot of what we throw away ends up in the ocean – plastic bottles, ciguarette butts, straws, cotton buds, bottle lids to name just a few of the big culprits. It is a very complicated business recycling. And what we can and can not recycle is a complex business that varies form area to area
Did you know all of the following have plastic in and are generally non-recyclable – single use cups ( have plastic in lining), receipts, lycra -polyester-microfibre-nylon clothing, tins are lined with plastic, bottle top lids ( though you can send them to LUSH), toothpaste, toothbrushes, and flossing type accessories ( can be sent back to Colgate), coloured plastics, cellophane, cling film, so the cellophane window in paper bags -non recyclable), Tetras packs ( like fruit juice cartons) are not widely recyclable.
- Know what you can and can not recycle in your green bins. At present, mistakes contaminate the whole batch, to the tune of 25% of items placed in green bins. Worse still less than 10% of things that could be recycled actually are recycled. More about this here and a simple guide to recycling here. Remember if its not clean you will contaminate the whole batch of rubbish.
- Stop using cling film. Instead use beeswax covers. You can buy these or you can make them. Consider leaving non recyclable wrappings with the store when you buy, or use these items to make Ecobricks.
- Give up bottled water ( or other bottles drinks). Drink tap water, if the bubbles are your attraction get a soda stream.
- Invest in a travel cup and take it with you everywhere.
- Save tins for restoring food in the fridge or cupboard. You can buy reusable lids for about 50p or use beeswax covers, cloth with an elastic band.
- Buy your fruit and veg loose. Mostly this means buying from markets or local greengrocers or having a veg box delivered. Though Morrisons do a wonky box and many supermarkets have some items that are not covered in cling film.
- Have a fabric bag/s for shopping with. Or you can use cardboard boxes.
- Save envelopes, elastic bands on veg, paper bags and reuse. Elastic bands work well to seal biscuits or other packets once opened. Envelopes can be used as envelopes or turned inside out/ opened up to use for notes like shopping lists.
- Ask for emailed receipts ( where possible) in shops rather than paper ones. I know Habitat offer this.
- Complain to shops about their use of non-recyclable packaging. Write in and complain to manufacturers and retail shops both selling online and on the hughstreet.
- Request takeout places use your reusable container ( bring it with you) instead of their disposable one. If they won’t do it, give them a Take Out Without card to help them understand why they should. Think bringing your own containers is too much of a hassle and won’t make a difference? Please check out my posts “Carrying Our Own Containers: Powerful Action or Pointless Inconvenience?
- Make your own toothpaste or buy one that is refillable from glass, or even toothpaste tablets. Use a bamboo toothbrush.
- Send your old toothbrushes/ heads to Colgate. You can also drop them off at EcoTopia in leeds city centre. Consider using old toothbrushes as cleaning tools.
- Refill household liquids and toiletries using bottles you already have from zero waste shops. (NB: A vodka bottle makes a great detergent container – though might not be practical to have glass bottles in every household.)
- 95% of clothes ( textiles) can be recycled or repurposed. It is estimated that 140 million tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill each year. So consider buying clothes second-hand or from a Clothes Exchange like Leeds Community Clothes Exchange. You can also look at ways to up-cycle your clothes. Lots of tips at Love your clothes.
- Use non toxic detergents, paints and toiletries WITHOUT micro-beads, and non-recyclable glitter.
- Use a cloth you can rinse to clean surfaces rather than wipes ( which are not recyclable.)
- When recycling – take tops off glass bottles, caps off plastic bottles, and remember that all materials need to be clean.
- If you do have to use a coffee ( single use paper) cup then use the special collectors in Leeds City Centre.
- When buying online – add in the notes box – NO PLASTIC PACKAGING PLEASE. It may not mean it comes with no packaging but you can complain, change who you buy from the next time, and the more notes like this the manufacturer gets, the more likely they are to make a change.
- Consider how you can repurpose things that might currently be going to landfill. For instance – elastic bands you find on asparagus bunches are great to re-seal crisp/biscuit/nut packets once opened. Paper or plastic bags for loose vegetables and fruit can be re-used the next time.