The other day a friend of mine asked me to write more about recycling. That day I gave her some tips, but I thought it was actually a good idea to include some material about the topic.
The reality is most people I talk about the environment are keen to learn more about recycling, and even when I think our efforts should be more toward reducing our waste, recycling is still important and we should all do it properly.
Today’s post is about some items that usually end up in landfill and could be recycled with a bit of attention and love. So hopefully, you’ll find some alternatives to explore.
1. Personal care, cleaning and dental packaging
As you are probably aware, things like plastic toothbrushes, dental floss containers, toothpaste tubes, cosmetic packaging, pumps/sprays/triggers from personal care products are often not accepted via regular kerbside recycling.
Instead of sending these items to landfill (or contaminate the kerbside recycling content – I know recycling is always confusing), collect them for Terracycle.
In Australia, Terracycle offers several recycling programs, all you have to do is drop them in one of the public locations listed in the website. Use the following map to find out what’s available near you.
These are some of the free programs they run:
Personal Care and Beauty Products (update: this is no longer available in Australia)
Note they have partnered with some brands (which you will see in the website) but for most of the programs, they receive products from any brand.
I recently dropped some Oral Care products from my mother in Here and There Makers in Boronia. The collection points look like this:
If you are reading outside Australia, please check Terracycle in other countries.
Some brands have special programs only for their products, please check Terracycle page for the details.
2. Mailing post sachets
Here in Australia, plastic satchels can be easily recycled via Redcycle (soft-plastic service in the big supermarkets), however padded satchels are harder to recycle because they have paper and plastic.
In several occasions, when I have received one of this sachets, I have done my best to remove the paper and recycle the plastic via Redcycle however is painful – so I am sure most people don’t do it.
Again Terracycle comes to the rescue, just collect them and find a drop-off location.
Update: unfortunately, it seems this program is no longer available in Australia.
3. Plastic bottle tops
Many councils usually recommend to remove the lid from plastic bottles because they are made from a different type of plastic. However, these tops usually end up in landfill as they are too small and often fall though the machinery.
I don’t buy plastic bottles but I often pick up rubbish and lids and plastic bottles are always present.
I used to collect them in a bigger plastic containers and when full, I put it in my regular recycling bin – I asked my council and they confirmed this method is fine. But few months ago, I discovered an initiative that actually recycles these lids and make plastic prosthetic hands to help kids in developing countries.
They have several locations. If there isn’t a drop-off location near you, contact them. More information here.
And this is done in other countries, for instance in USA they have Gimme 5 program. Ask Mr Google what’s available in your area.
4. Steel/aluminium bottle tops
Same as plastic tops, in most cases this type of tops should not be placed in the regular kerbside recycling bin due to the size. Metal lids can come in many products, a good reference when it comes to the size is this one provided by Suez:
“Bottle tops and lids larger than the size of a business card (eg. lids from jam jars) are much easier to sort, and can be placed in recycling bins, provided they are separated from the bottle or container.”
The method that I have used for long time is collect them in a can/tin, and when it is almost full, squeeze it to close the mouth of the can and prevent the tops from falling. This can then place in the regular recycling bin.
Something I learned recently, is that these tops/cans can be made from steel or aluminium, therefore we have to ensure we are collecting them in can that matches the tops material. Suez website recommends to test it this way: “if a magnet sticks to it, it is steel – if not, it is aluminium”.
This is a very simple way to recycle these precious materials.
5. Bread Tags
There is a foundation called “Breadtags for Wheelchairs”, they collect these little pieces of plastic and raise money to buy wheelchairs for people in need. This organisation started in South Africa, but there are collection points in Australia and USA.
Similar to the plastic tops, these tags are too small to be recycled, so this is a great cause you could support if you buy bread with tags.
I prefer to buy plastic-free bread or make my own, but I always find bread tags when I pick up rubbish, especially in parks – I suppose people drop them when the are doing picnics. So, I am collecting these bread tags to take them to Here and There Makers too.
Recycling alone won’t take us far if we keep consuming and generating waste at the current rate. I wrote a post about the need to update those pieces of environmental advice we received many years ago and start considering changing our habits, what we buy, the products we support. Is there a better way?
“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” ― Howard Zinn
That’s it for today, I hope you have learned a little something. Before you go, Can I please ask you to share this info with your friends and family? Most people simply don’t know there are alternatives, help me spread the message!
Also let me know in the comments below: How did you find the information? Did you know about these options? Are you already recycling any of these items?
Let’s keep in contact via social media, these are my accounts
Thanks for reading,