The phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is often used when we talk about how to be more environmentally friendly, how to be greener, how to be ecologically sound and how to live sustainably.
But what does it really mean?
The Three R’s of Recycling
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is sometimes referred to as the ‘Three Rs’ of recycling. These three terms all refer to ways that we can minimise the amount of materials that we use, the amount of the Earth’s resources that we use, the energy that we use and the amount of waste which we produce in our everyday life.
Let’s take a look at the three R’s one at a time.
Image Credit: Crown Agency
The first of the three R’s is Reduce.
Reduce is first on the list because it is the best and most important way of minimising your impact on the Earth’s environment. It means that you try to reduce the amount of materials that you use and also the resources such as fuel and water that you use.
Here are some examples of ways that you can reduce:-
- By not buying items that you do not need, for example by only replacing items when they can no longer be used or are beyond repair.
- If an item is damaged, try to repair the item rather than buying something new. Clothes and electronics are good examples of items which are often thrown out when they become damaged, yet they can often be repaired.
- By not buying and using single use items such as straws, plastic cups and drinks that are sold in plastic bottles which are used once then thrown away.
- You can also reduce your impact on the planet by refusing to buy items that have excessive packaging, for example chocolates that come in plastic boxes or items that are sold in an unnecessarily large container.
- If you need to print out a document, print on both sides of paper. If you have paper that you have printed on one side only, you could use the back to write on. Here are some more ways to save paper.
- By choosing to walk, cycle or take public transport rather than using a car.
- By hanging washing outside to dry rather than using a tumble dryer.
Image Credit: Island Born
The second of the three R’s is Reuse
If you have an item that you can no longer use or simply do not want, but is still in perfectly usable condition, you should try to find a way that it can continue to be used rather than throwing it away.
Here are some examples of ways that you can reuse:-
- Sell the item, for example by advertising it on one of the many websites such as eBay, on Facebook groups or via local newspapers. If it is an antique or collectable item you may be able to sell it to a local antiques shop.
- Give it to a friend that needs the item.
- Donate it to a charity shop (thrift store) where it can be sold to raise money for a good cause.
- Give it to somebody who is looking for something, via websites such as Freecycleor Freegle.
- Hold a yard sale or get a pitch at a car boot sale.
- Make the item into something else completely. This is sometimes referred to as ‘upcycling’.
- If you do need to buy something, before you buy it new, see if you can buy one second-hand, borrow it from someone else or hire the item. As a bonus you will also save money!
Image Credit: renato cardoso
The third of the three R’s is Recycle.
When we say recycling, it means to break down an item and to make something new from the materials.
Processing these materials still requires time, energy and cost, therefore an item should ideally only be sent for recycling if there is no other way that it can be reused or repaired. It is the last term on the list because it is in fact the least useful of the three ways of reducing your impact on the planet, however it is still vastly better than sending waste to landfill.
Some examples of recycling are:-
- Textiles such as clothing and bedding which are in such poor condition that they cannot be used or mended can be used to make cleaning rags, or for filling furniture.
- Waste paper can be pulped and used to make new pieces of paper.
- Plastics can be melted down and made into new plastic items.
- Electrical items can be broken down and the metal components melted down to make a new item (this is particularly important in the recycling of mobile phones as they contain small amounts of rare and valuable metals.) The plastic casings can also be recycled.
- Glass can be melted down and made into new glass items.
Reduce The Amount Of Food That You Waste
Firstly, you can reduce the amount of food that you waste by only buying the amount of food that you actually need. However tempting that BOGOF offer might seem, you don’t save money if you buy food that just ends up going in the bin.
You can reduce the amount of waste by:-
- Careful meal planning: There is a vast amount of resources available for free or at varying costs on how to plan meals, but basically meal planning means making a list of the all the meals that you intend to cook for the week and then writing down a shopping list of the ingredients that you need to buy for them.
- Using this shopping list when you go to buy food or place your order online, rather than buying a random bunch of stuff and hoping that you still can put together a meal by the end of the week. As a bonus, if you don’t keep having to go shopping for forgotton ingredients, it removes the temptation to buy extra food – which will save you money as well.
- Check use-by dates and make sure that all your food is eaten up by that date.
Reuse Food That has Not Been Eaten
There is lots of information available for learning about using up leftover food.
The first place you should visit is the Love Food Hate Waste website which is produced by The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). It has lots of excellent articles about how to avoid food waste, from how to measure out the correct portions of food, how to understand food date labelling and lots of recipes for using up your leftovers.
Recycle Anything Else
There will always be some leftovers, whether it be potato peelings, used teabags or that tiny bit that could not be eaten.
Much of the food waste that currently goes to landfill could have been composted. Any cooked or raw vegetable and fruit matter can be composted, so that includes apple cores, banana skins, potato peelings, onion skins and even your limp lettuce and squashy tomatoes (mind you I always chop up and hide sad-looking salad in casseroles). You can also compost eggshells and the shells of nuts.
Many local councils offer composters at very compettive rates to residents, or you can see the different types of composters here.
Have A Nice Cup Of Tea
Image Credit: Steve Buissinne
Like many people, I assumed for a very long time that teabags were still made from paper and so were completely biodegradable.
The vast majority of teabags sold in the UK include some nylon in the the material of the bag, which means that they will not break down when composted. The best thing to do is to split open the bags (when the teabag has cooled down of course!) remove the leaves and throw away the bag in your household waste.
If you don’t want to do that you could, of course, start using loose tea in an old fashioned teapot, or use an infuser.
This shocking article by green blogger Linday Miles of Treading My Own Path describes her investigations into just how many brands of teabag contain plastic. Although she lives in Australia the brands are nearly all those available in the UK.
What About Non-Compostable Food?
Meat, fish and dairy items cannot go into an ordinary compost heap. They will not break down and will probably attract vermin. So what can you do with the rest?
Most local councils now collect food scraps as part of their household recycling collections. If your council does this they will provide you with a kitchen caddy to save your scraps in, and some councils may also accept food waste in their recycling sites. If you do not have a compost heap you can include all your vegetable matter in them as well.
What happens to your food waste after it is collected? It will composted using a closed vessel, which will heat the food until it breaks down, whereafter it can be used as a soil improver. You can find out more about this from the Food Waste Network
If your local council does not collect food scraps, or you want to compost all your own food waste you can use a Bokashi Bin. Yes, every bit of food can be composted in a Bokashi bin – fish, meat, bones, fruit, veg and dairy. You simply put your food in the bin and add Bokashi bran, which contains ‘Effective Microrganisms’ to break down the food. Once it is broken down (in about two weeks) it can be used as a soil improver or added to a compost heap to accelerate composting.
Hangers can be made of several kinds of materials. Depending on their makeup, they may be recyclable. But, regardless, they are certainly reusable.
Hangers were first invented in the mid-1800s as a way to store women’s delicate bustles and skirts. By the early 1900s, they were more widely used for men’s and women’s clothing and accessories alike. Today, they are an indispensible item found in homes all over the world. Hangers can be made of several different materials. The most popular material for hangers today is plastic, but there are still plenty of wire and wood hangers out there as well (in fact, those might be the ones you wish to dispose of since they have fallen out of favor). The bad news is that not all hangers are recyclable. However, hangers that are in good shape can be reused, either for their intended purpose or by industrious artists and crafters.
How to recycle wire hangers
Wire hangers are made from steel and have a thin plastic coating to keep them from rusting. Some recycling centerswill take them, no questions asked. However, some recycling centers have policies prohibiting hangers because the curved ends can get stuck in sorting and recycling equipment. Check with your local solid waste district before you bundle your metal hangers together and take them to a recycling center. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere like New York City or Riverside, CA, you can put metal hangers in your curbside recycling bin, but those programs are the exception to the rule. It is best to remove any paper, lightweight cardboard, foam or yarn wrapped around the hangers before recycling them. The paper can be recycled. However, chances are good that the foam and the yarn cannot be recycled. The top suppliers of wire hangers are dry cleaners, which use them for storing items of clothing before returning them to their owners. Many dry cleaners will take metal hangers back and reuse them. Ask about that (and the plastic bags most dry cleaners use to cover clothes) the next time you pick up garments. Or, simply leave the hangers at the store when you pick up your clothes (if you are picking up lots of items, consider bringing your own hangers and a garment bag).
How to recycle plastic hangers
There are a couple of kinds of plastic hangers. There are the purely plastic hangers, available in a rainbow of colors, that you can pick up at any drug store. Then, there is the kind used to hang clothes in retail stores, which are a combination of plastic and metal. It is very difficult to know what type of plastic different hangers are made of, making them nearly impossible to recycle. You can, however, practice the other two “R’s” with plastic hangers: reduce and reuse. If a store clerk offers to let you take hangers home with you, say no. The store can put them back to use (a bonus for them because they do not have to buy new ones). Many thrift stores bundle plastic hangers together and sell them. They can also use donated hangers to hang clothes they sell in their stores. See if your local thrift store is interested in your old plastic hangers.
How to recycle wood hangers
Wood hangers are also not recyclable. The wood is treated with varnish or other types of finish, resulting in a nonrecyclable product (see article “How to Recycle Wood” for more information on wood recycling). However, most wood hangers have small pieces of metal attached. If you can remove those, go ahead and mix those in with your scrap metal recycling. Wood hangers are best suited for coats, so consider donating unwanted ones to charities with lots of jackets to store and give away. Your local rescue mission or health and human services office are two places to check with first. Or, you can see if your community has a chapter of Dress for Success, which gives suits to people who need them for job interviews
Shredded paper. Such a pain! It gets everywhere in your home – under the sofa, behind the curtains, then it gets stuck in the vacuum cleaner. Take it outside and it it blows around at the slightest breath of wind.
And it is difficult to recycle too.
Shredding sensitive documents is certainly a very good idea. You should never put documents with personal or financial details straight into a recycling collection, as this could leave you open to identity theft.
Why Is Shredded Paper Difficult To Recycle?
Many local councils will not collect shredded paper in their household recycling collections at all. Some ask that you put it in a paper bag or envelope before placing it in your recycling bin. You should always check your local council’s policy before putting shredded paper into your recycling bin.
The problem is twofold:-
- Firstly shredding cuts the fibres of the paper up into very short lengths, which means that it is more difficult to make into good quality paper pulp for recycling into new paper items.
- Small pieces of paper get trapped in the paper recycling machinary and can cause a fire hazard.
I suspect that there is a third reason – your council does not want to make a mess in your street and create more work for their street cleaning team if the paper blows around either.
Minimise Your Shredding
Firstly, try to avoid shredding paper documents unless they really do have personal information on them. So yes, shred a credit card bill, but take out the flyers and advertisments that are included and put them in your regular recycling collection.
Rather than shredding a whole document, maybe you could just remove your address and shred that part, and put the rest into your recycling bin.
So What Can I Do With My Shredded Paper?
There are a few things that you can do with shredded paper if you cannot put it into your recycling bin.
- Shredded paper is very good for adding to compost, as long as it is not the type of paper from glossy magazines. This is what I do with my shredded paper – mix it well into the compost and you can be absolutly sure that it will not fall into anyone else’s hands. Paper is particularly good for soaking up moisture if your compost is a bit soggy.
- Small pets may like to use it for bedding, for example gerbils, rabbits or hamsters. If your animal is a non-meat eater, the bedding can then be composted when it has been used as well.
- You could use it as a packaging material for breakable items as an alternative to polystyrene ‘popcorn’.
- It may be possible to take it to your Household Recycling Centre for recycling, even if it cannot be collected.
- Otherwise you will have to put it into your household waste collection.
Do you have clothing, bedding, curtains, underwear or other fabric and textile items that you want to recycle?
Many items which are thrown away could be reused, and the good news is that over 50% of textiles are recycleable.
Sell or Donate
If you have clothes, sheets, blankets and other household textiles such as towels, tea towels and curtains that are in good condition you could:-
- Pass them on to a family member or friend.
- Offer the clothing on a local recycling group such as Facebook groups, Freecycle or Freegle.
- Sell items via a local website, listings magazine, newspaper or local Facebook ‘For Sale’ group.
- Give them to a charity shop or to a jumble sale.
- Put them in a charity textile collection bin. These turn up all over the place, from car parks to schools and supermarkets to shopping centres.
- Against Breast Cancer collect bras for recycling or reuse for charity.
- Put them in one of those charity textile recycling bags that you may have put through your letterbox from time to time. However, the amount of money which goes to charity from these collections can vary. Also all door-to-door collectors must be licenced. You can find out more about this from the Textile Recycling Association.
- Sell on a national auction website such as eBay or eBid.
- Include them in a car boot sale or yard sale.
- Designer and good quailty clothing could be sold via a dress agency (these are also known as Consignment shops).
- Have a swishing party with your friends – you all bring your unwanted items and swap them with each other. Just add wine and nibbles!
- You can sell baby clothes in good condition at an NCT Nearly New sale.
- Animal charities may accept blankets to use as pet bedding. Check with any charity before donating.
Can You Mend it?
A lot of clothing and other textiles are disposed of just because of popped seams and lost buttons. The website LoveYourClothes.org.uk is a brilliant resource for information on how to care for your clothes, including how to clean them, remove stains, repair and alter clothing.
For the more adventurous there are ideas on how to upcycle, alter and otherwise get creative with your old clothing.
You can also find videos on YouTube on how to do most repairs on clothing, and there are lots of articles online about how to repair things too.
Items In Poor Condition
Just because an item of clothing is in too poorer condition to wear or a towel is just too grey and disgusting to hang in the bathroom any longer, does not mean it’s useful life is over quite yet.
- Items such as T-shirts, sweatshirts and joggers make good cleaning cloths, as do Aertex-type shirts – the sort that kids PE kits and school polo shirts are made of.
- Old towels also make excellent cleaning cloths too. I also keep a big old bath towel for putting on the floor when I’m cleaning the fridge or in case of washing machine and dishwasher problems. They are very useful if you have a kitchen flood of some kind.
- Any clothes in poor condition can be donated to many charity shops, who sell them by weight to rag merchants. They will even accept old underwear and holey socks! Do check with the shop before donating rag, as some shops, particularly smaller charities may not be able to handle rag.
- Your local council may take away textiles in your curbside recycling collection.
- Most household recycling centres will have textile collection bins.
Image Credit: Bruno Glätsch
There are many reasons why you might love candles; they can be very attractive in their own right, when burnt they produce a beautifully warm light and if oils are added to them they will release a wonderful aroma into your room.
However traditional candles are made from paraffin, which is made from petroleum. This means that they are not very good for the environment. Paraffin is not a renewable resource, and when it is burnt it may release carcinogenic substances into the atmosphere. This is why many people are choosing to use soy wax candles rather than the traditional wax candles.
The Advantages of Soy Wax Candles
These Moroccan Style Scented Soy Wax Candles can be found at Natural Collection
Soy wax candles, made from the wax of the soya bean, are becoming increasingly popular for many reasons. Soybean wax, often referred to simply as “soy wax,” is produced with hydrogenated soybean oil.
- The wax is made from a plant product which means that it is both renewable and biodegradable.
- The candles burn more cleanly than paraffin candles, because the produce less soot.
- Soy candles do not burn as quickly as paraffin candles do, so they last longer.
Soybean wax has a lower melting point than paraffin wax. When soy wax candles first came on the market they were only sold as jar candles because they tended to melt too easily and were too greasy or brittle to make pillar candles.
However in the last few years the manufacture of soy wax candles has improved enormously and now it is possible to buy a range of pillar and taper candles made from soybean wax as well as jar candles.
Where To Buy Soy Wax Candles
This Noctua Hand Poured Soy Candle can be found at Ethical Superstore
- notonthehighstreet.com sell products from a handpicked selection of artists and craftsmen. The have beautiful artisan soy wax candles from a range of suppliers.
- Northumbrian Candleworks specialise in soy wax candles and candle making kits. They have a wide range of luxury, handmade, pure soy wax candles in a variety of lovely scents both traditional and contemporary.
- Amazon have a big selection of soy wax candles from brands including Paddywax, Mudlark, Jardle Soy Candles, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Wax & Wix and many more.
- Etsy have a lovely selection of soy wax pillar candles in many fantastic designs from classic to contemporary made by individual makers around the world.
- Natural Collection have soy wax candles from Pacifica, Vineyard Candles, Noctua and M&J London in a variety of different scents which would all make lovely gifts.
- Candles Naturally have a range of soy wax tin candles and aromatherapy candles along with soy wax refill kits so that you can top up your favourite candles.
- The English Soap Company are based in East Sussex and have their own range of scented soy candles including lavendar, rose and seasonal scents for Christmas.
- Ethical Superstore have a beautiful range on attractive scented soy wax candles as well as candles made from palm wax and beeswax.
- 4candles sell soya wax beads in bulk for people who want to make their own candles.
- Busy Bee Candles are another company who specialise in scented soy wax candles as well as materials for making your own candles too.
The world’s annual consumption of plastic materials, according to Waste Online, has increased from around 5 million tonnes in the 1950s to nearly 100 million tonnes today, which means that we use 20 times as much plastic today than we did 50 years ago.
Fortunately most local councils now accept some types of plastic in their kerbside collections, including milk containers, water bottles, toiletries bottles and containers from houshold cleaning products. Some even collect yogurt pots and other plastic tubs.
What about the plastics that are not collected in kerbside collections?
Plastic Carrier Bags Most supermarkets in the UK now will collect your old carrier bags for recycling too, from any store, not just their own. Better still, reuse carrier bags or take your own bags to the supermarket.
Plastic Food Packaging Bags or Films Cannot a t present be recycled so will have to go to land fill.
Rigid Plastics such as toys, gadgets and plant pots have to go in the bin as well.
Media Items such as CDs, DVDs, cassettes and videotapes can all be recycled, but cannot be included in roadside collections. Check with your local council if they will be accepted at a recycling centre.
How To Reduce Your Plastic Usage
- Reject over-packaged items (a tough choice when four packs of a product encased in a plastic wrapper is cheaper than buying the items individually. Yet that wrapper must increase the production costs surely?)
- Choose products that use recyclable packaging such as glass rather than plastic. Another tough choice – a favourite fruit juice of mine just changed its packaging from glass to plastic. Grrrr.
- Reuse plastic packaging where possible – margarine and ice cream tubs can be used for storage and for planting seeds in for example. Drinks bottles such as water bottles can be refilled from larger containers (or the tap of course). Be careful never to reuse drinks bottles for substances such as cleaning materials where they could be accidentally drunk by a child.
- Choose products where refill options are available. Many health food shops will refill Ecover bottles for example, and The Body Shop will also refill bottles.
- If roadside collections are not available for plastics, take sorted plastics to a recycling collection centre. It is often requested that bottle tops be removed from bottles, as they are of a different material.
- Choose plastic items made from recycled materials. Plastic bags, fencing, garden furniture, water butts, composters, seed trays and fleeces can all be made from recycled materials.
Whilst figures vary for how many batteries in the uk are recycled each year, it is clear that only a small proportion of the portable batteries used in the UK are recycled.
A portable battery is any battery that can be easily purchased and carried by a consumer, so it refers to AA and AAA batteries, the sort of button batteries used in watches, as well as any used in hand held appiances such as electric toothbrushes and hand held vacuum cleaners and those used in mobile phones, laptops and tablets.
It does not include car batteries or industrial batteries.
The UK’s collection target for used batteries, set by the EU, was just 10% in 2010 when battery recycling regulations were introduced, rising to 45% in 2016.
- Any shop which sells more than 32Kg of batteries per year must provide some sort of battery take back facility. Most larger retailers have a container that customers can put their used batteries in, and this service must be provided free of charge to consumers.
- Most council recycling centres will accept batteries.
- Many local councils will collect used batteries as part of their roadside collection service, but they may need to be kept separate from your other recycling, for example my local council asks for them to be put in a see-through plastic bag and placed on top of the recycling bin.
Batteries contain many chemicals which are harmfull to the environment, and if they are put into the dustbin and go to landfill they will eventually leach these chemicals into the soil.
You can minimize your use of disposable batteries by:-
- Using rechargable batteries wherever possible.
- Using electrical equipment using mains power rather than battery.
- Use solar powered items such as garden lights, and wind up gadgets such as torches and radios..
But never, never stint on battery use in your smoke alarm and CO2 alarm. These items could save your life.
For more information on battery recycling for manufacturers, retailers and consumers visit Batteryback, which is the UK’s official organisation for battery recycling compliance.
Most of us have a number of books hanging around that we aren’t going to look at again; some of us have a lot! There are lots of ways you can recycle your books which can benefit yourself or someone else and make a bit more space on your shelves for…….well more books probably!
The obvious place to donate your books is your local charity shop. However if your local shop has a ‘no books please’ sign up you do have some other options. Many hospitals appreciate donations of books for patients to read. Try contacting the League of Friends in the first place if your hospital has one.
Books that are in very good condition may be accepted by your local library, either to be included in the lending collection or added to the ex-stock items for sale – they will then raise money for the library to buy new items. It’s best to check first whether they accept donations however before you turn up with a carload of books. By the way, some libraries are interested in old magazines too.
Read a great book and want to share it? Bookcrossing entered the OED in 2004 defined as; n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. Register it with the Bookcrossing website and you are given a unique ID number. Then just label the book and release it for someone else to read – give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, or simply “forget” it in a coffee shop. You can track its progress and see how many people get to share it.
Looking for something a little less altruistic? You can sell your books free of charge on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com – you just pay a small commission if the book sells. A sum for postage is automatically added to the price and you must post it yourself. My experience is that more unusual books are more likely to sell, as if you advertise a bestseller you will be in competition with hundreds of people advertising the book for 1p.
Another place that you can advertise your books in the UK is Green Metropolis www.greenmetropolis.com – again you can advertise for free, books cost a flat rate of £3.75 and you get £3.00 for each book that you sell. You can then choose to donate 50p or £1 to a choice of UK charities including The Woodland Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support or Age UK.
Image Credit: Jacqui O’Brien
Since the 5p plastic bag charge was introduced on 5th October 2015 in the UK, disposing of plastic bags has become much less of a problem for the vast majority of people; in fact many people cling onto one of these rare and precious items for dear life, using the bag until it is more confetti that container.
However if you still have a collection of bags that you want to get rid of – or need to know what to do with your bag when it is finally unusable – here are some possibilities.
How To Recycle Plastic Bags
It may be possible to put plastic bags in your household recycling collection, but this is pretty unusual, so check with your local council before putting any bags in your recycling bin. It is also uncommon for them to be collected at household recycling centres.
Most larger supermarkets offer plastic bag recycling, with a collection container either inside the shop or in an onsite recycling collection point if there is on.
Otherwise they have to go into your household waste for diposal, which means that they end up in landfill.
Reusing Plastic Carrier Bags
Ideally you should keep on using your plastic bags for your shopping until they are unusable, then place them in a recycling bin.
They can also be used as bin liners rather than buying new plastic bags, for using as nappy sacks and for collecting dog waste.
Some More Creative Ideas for Using Plastic Bags
The more creative amongst you may be able to use your bags for some craft projects – here are some ideas.
- Plastic can be cut into strips and knitted or crochet – the finished item is also waterproof.
- I love these carrier bag flowers which are easy enough for a child to make.
- You can even make the bags into wall art or a skirt.
Since the introduction of the plastic bag charge, reported plastic bag usage in the UK has been reduced by 80%, a huge success for the charge. Keep taking your own bags to the supermarket, it really is making a difference.
Something of a mythology has grown up about the collection of plastic milk bottle tops for recycling; they have been the subject of numerous charity collection hoaxes, whereby it is suggested that if you can collect the weight of a wheelchair in tops you will earn a wheelchair for some needy child.
Sadly these pranksters play on our wish both to help others and recycle something which otherwise has to go into the bin – most councils that collect plastic bottles for recycling ask that you remove the lid.
So can you actually recycle these bottle tops and help charities? Yes!
Charities which are collecting Plastic Milk Bottle tops
- New Forest Mencap are collecting bottle tops.These must be sent direct to Associated Polymer Resources (APR), Wrens Farm, Castle Lane, North Badesley, Southampton, SO52 9LY. State the charity to which you are donating.
- St. Pauls Church Chichester collect milk bottle tops, and proceeds are donated to Chestnut Tree House, which is the only children’s hospice in Sussex. Your tops should be taken top the church and deposited in the bins in the car park.
- The Matthew Project a charity based throughout Norfolk and Suffolk collect all sorts of lids including plastic milk bottle tops. They ask that you collect them inside a clean milk bottle.
- Sussex Green Living collect bottle tops for recycling and have collection points at various locations in Sussex.
If you do hear of any schemes for collecting plastic bottle tops for charity, we recommend that you please contact the charity in question directly to confirm that they are actually collecting.
Any charity would undoubtedly prefer a quick phone call rather than having bags of unwanted bottle tops arriving unexpectedly. And if you find any more genuine charities who are collecting them, please let us know, so that we can pass the message on.
Start Your Own Collection
If you wish to collect Bottle Tops for recycling there is a company that recycles them, GHS Recycling Ltd who are in Portsmouth. They have a minimum quantity which they will accept for payment, however they have told us that they are happy to accept small amounts of milk bottle tops on behalf of charities, which we will keep on file and they will inform groups every 2 months how their total is mounting up and send them a newsletter. To find out more visit http://www.ghsrecycling.co.uk/charities/#cform
Green Ant Plastic Recycling will collect large quantities of plastic bottle tops (and I mean large – a minimum weight of around 3 tonnes or 3000 kgs. Since one bottle top weighs 2g, I reckon that makes 1.5 million bottle tops) for which they will pay the market rate. So if you have room to store that sort of quantity of bottle tops it might be a possibility.
If you have printer or toner cartridges that you need to dispose of, you probably would like to ensure that they are handled in a an environmentally friendly way.
Inkjet printer cartridges can be quite easily recycled – many areas have local businesses that will refill cartridges for you, so you can take them along to be refilled yourself. You can even buy ink and refill them yourself.
If you don’t want to do that, there are also many charities and organisations that collect used cartridges to help them raise funds. Perhaps your local school collects them to raise extra funds. Many charities collect them too, and these can often easily be donated to one of their shops.
If all else fails, you should be able to take them to your local recycling centre, as most will accept them nowadays.
Toner Cartridges are widely collected as well, often by the same organisations who collect the cartridges.
Image Credit: Rene Cerney
Have you got old CDs, CD-ROMs and DVDs hanging around that you no longer want.? Maybe you have replaced many of your CDs and DVDs with Blu-ray disks or digital downloads.
What can you do with your unwanted disks?
CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays in Good Condition
If they are in good condition they should ideally be passed on to someone else who can use them.
- Give them to friends or family or swap them rather than buying something new to replace them.
- Give them away on Freecycle, Freegle and ReUseIt recycling groups.
- You could sell them on eBay, on Amazon.co.uk, at a car boot sale or advertise them in your local paper.
- There are lots of websites where you can turn your old and unwanted CDs, DVDs and Games into cash in one free and simple process. You can get anything from 25 pence up to £3. You can check your items potential value on the website and you can even donate the procedes to a number of well know charities. Some of the best-known are Music Magpie, Zapper and Ziffit
- Give them to your local charity shop or to a jumble sale in aid of a local organisation. Be aware that many charity shops will only sell CDs that are in visually perfect condition.
What About Those Freebie Disks from the Newspaper?
Now you may be asking, what about the free CDs and DVDs that you find in newspapers and magazines? Check before you donate these to a charity shop; many won’t sell them, and at best they will be distributed to the shop staff and volunteers. Otherwise they just go in the bin and off to landfill anyway.
If you have free CDs and DVDs or damaged disks what else can you do with them apart from using them as coasters?
Can CDs, DVDs , CD-ROMs and Blu-rays be Recycled?
Both the disks and the plastic jewel cases from disks are 100% recycleable.
Unfortunately however, at present we do not know of anywhere will accept disks for recycling from the general public, and I’m afraid the current advice is that domestic quantities of old disks will not be recycled by most local council household recycling centres, and should be put into your household waste for disposal.
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Most electrical and electronic items can be disposed of for recycling easily in the UK.
If the item in question has a plug on it or is operated by batteries it can be taken to your local household recycling centre.
Many local councils will also take small electrical items away with your kerbside recycling collection. My local council describes small as “anything that could fit inside a supermarket carrier bag”, so this means, for example, items such as kettles, toasters, battery powered toys and gadgets, radios, small TVs, screens, laptops and phones.
Large Electrical Items
Larger items – “white goods” such as refrigerators, ovens and washing machines can be taken to a household recycling centre. Some councils will collect these items but will usually charge for this.
If you are buying a new appliance to replace an old one, you may be able to arrange for it to be taken away when your new item is delivered, but again you will usually be charged for this.
Does It Still Work?
If your item still works you might be able to sell it, for example on ebay, local advertisement websites or local newspapers and magazines.
Items such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops can be sold via one of the many mobile phone recycling companies in the UK. Even if it is not working it may be worth a few pounds.
Although many people send their Christmas greetings by e-mail these days, most of us will still receive lots of actual Christmas cards.
When Christmas is over, you can easily reuse your Christmas cards or recycle them. The good quailty paper that the cards are made from makes them perfect for crafting, so here are some ideas for making the best use of the materials in those cards.
- Use them to make next year’s gift tags. Probably the most popular way to reuse your Christmas cards is to use the picture, cut it to size and use it as a gift tag for next year. A Spoonful of Sugar has instructions for a simple way to do this, plus some inspirational ideas for personalised recycled gift tags.
- Make paper chains. Easy Peasy; cut your cards into equally sized strips and loop them into one another. Probably the best way I have found to do this is by stapling – glue doesn’t work too well.
- Make Your Own Xmas Bunting. Bunting is so popular these days, so why not make your own for Christmas? Cut shapes out of your old cards, thread them onto a string and hang them up. Learning4Kids shows you how to make a simple garland, but you could cut out any shape that you like – trees, Santas, even spell out Happy Christmas!
- Reuse the Image to Make your Own Cards. Cut to size, stick your favourite images onto blank cards, sign them and pop them in the post!
- Jigsaw Puzzles. Cut up the images into pieces to make colourful Christmas puzzles for young children
- Greetings Card Box. The good quality card used to make Christmas cards make them perfect for so many crafting ideas. Kinderart shows you how to turn your cards into cute gift bokes. Smaller versions of the boxes, tied up with ribbon, would also make cool tree decorations.
- Card Tree Ornaments. As well as the gift boxes, the clever (and more patient) crafters amongst you might like to try out these cool ornaments from Martha Stewart
- Take them into Sainsbury’s. For January 2018 Sainsbury’s have partnered with the Forest Stewardship Council, and you can put your unwanted Christmas cards in collection boxes in the supermarket, along with used wrapping paper and defunct fairy lights.
- Put Them In Your Household Recycling. If you can’t make it into a branch of Sainsbury’s and you’re not the crafty type, they can be put into your usual household paper and card recycling, put into recycling bins in your local area (for example a supermarket or car park) or take them to your local household recycling centre. If you are going to put Christmas cards into your household recycling, do not include cards with glitter on them or any embellishments such as bows, jewels, googly eyes etc.
The phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycleis often used when we talk about how to be more environmentally friendly, how to be greener, how to be ecologically sound and how to live sustainably.
7 million tonnes of wasted food is thrown away in the South africa every year, at an estimated cost per household of R470. Approximately 50% of this wasted food comes from our homes.