We hear a lot about “saving the environment” and how we need to “go green” but how exactly do we do that? There are a lot of scary stats and doom-and-gloom forecasts about the future of our resources, but what can be done here and now?
I’m not a planet saver by any means, but I do the little I can – recycling paper, and paying for a monthly service for people to collect my recyclables (at around R79 a month, it’s worth it for me not having to schlepp my recyclables to various bins).
I asked Tracy Frayne, an eco consultant, web designer, blogger at The Green Forrest and founding member of the Joburg Green Map for some tips for people – and families – on how to recycle. (Side note: Tracy has done some amazing design work on this site, and my other blog Dear Max and she’s awesome.
“With World Environment Day (http://www.unep.org/wed/ ) just around the corner (5 June), now is the perfect time to give some thought to the impact you and your family might have on the planet and to adopt new eco-friendly behaviours.
The easiest change you can make at home is to start recycling (assuming you don’t already!) This means changing the way you currently think about and handle your waste – it means seeing that many of the things you throw away are not actually rubbish but rather valuable resources that can be reused to make new products.
The most commonly recycled products that you’re likely to deal with at home are paper & cardboard, glass, tins & cans and the ever-present plastic. Others that you may not have considered, or do not realise are recyclable, are polystyrene and tetrapak (milk and juice boxes).
All these materials can be reclaimed through the recycling process and made into new products, usually at a cheaper cost and with less impact on the environment than using virgin material, so sending them to the landfill with your ‘normal’ rubbish is extremely wasteful. Diverting reusable waste away from our landfill sites is also important as we are fast running out of landfill space in SA.
Now that you understand why to recycle, here’s how:
- Decide WHAT you are going to recycle; you don’t have to do everything at once. The trick to adopting any new habit is to start small – recycling is no exception. If you’re brand new to the concept, start with just one material (like paper – the easiest) and get used to the idea of separating it out from your everyday rubbish. Once you’re doing it without thinking, scale up to include a few more materials.
- Figure out HOW you’re going to separate your waste. A good place to start is to set up three bins – one for paper/cardboard, one for recyclables (plastic, cans, glass etc) and one for non-recyclable waste.
- Find out WHERE you can take your recyclables, or if there is a kerb-side collection service operating in your area.
- In Joburg, most of the Pikitup Garden Centers have recycling centres which take back most types of recyclables. Find your nearest centre here. (http://www.pikitup.co.za/jit_default_686.html) The City of Cape Town also has a number of Waste Drop-off sites which will take back recyclables – check out the Cape Town Green Map’s Waste and Recyclers Map (http://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/node/1369 )
- Mpact Recycling offers a country-wide kerb-side paper/cardboard collection service called “Ronnie Paper Pickup” – find out more here: http://www.paperpickup.co.za/default2.asp
- Many suburbs around the country offer kerb-side collection of recyclables –check with your local municipality to see if your area is serviced and how you can get involved.
- Many garage forecourts (like Engen and Total) have recycling collection bins where you can drop off your paper, plastic, glass and tins while you fill up your car.
- Pick n Pay and Woolworths stores offer recycling bins for occasional items like CFL bulbs and batteries which should always be recycled due to their hazardous content.
- Schools, churches and shopping centers often have paper or glass collection bins situated near the parking areas – keep an eye open for them next time you’re out and about.
Alternatively, investigate signing up for the services of a recycling collection service. There are many companies across the country that, for a small fee, will collect your recyclables from your home on a weekly basis.
- WHO: Get everyone in the household involved. Recycling is not the responsibility of one person – everyone in the family, kids and husbands included, need to learn what can/can’t be recycled and must agree to put their rubbish in the right bins for correct disposal. Learn the intricacies about different types of recyclable material at the National Recycling Forum Website (http://www.recycling.co.za/index.htm )
- If you don’t have a lot of space in your home, try to find a bin with multiple compartments that saves on space but still allows easy separating.
- Not all drop-off facilities or recycling collection companies will take back every type of recyclable material. It is a good idea to check first what they will accept.
- Rinse out any food containers to reduce odours, and avoid attracting bugs or rodents.
- Squash/flatten plastic bottles to save space.
- Remove bottle tops/caps and corks from plastic and glass bottles before putting them in your recycling bags.
- Buy recycled goods whenever you can. By supporting this growing industry, you’re supporting further recycling.
- National Recycling Forum: www.recycling.co.za
- Paper Recycling Association of South Africa: http://www.prasa.co.za/
- The Glass Recycling Company: http://www.theglassrecyclingcompany.co.za/
- Plastics | SA: http://www.plasticsinfo.co.za/
- Collect-a-Can: http://www.collectacan.co.za/
- Find your nearest recycling drop-off point on Green Maps: Joburg (http://www.joburggreenmap.co.za/index.php ), Cape Town (http://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/ ), Durban (http://www.imaginedurban.org/Pages/GreenMap.aspx) or MyWaste http://mywaste.co.za/