Where does recycling come from?
The history of recycling:
It would be easy to write here about the impact we are having on the environment, about the plastic in the oceans, oil and gas being pumped out of the ground and into the skies, about the chemicals that are unceremoniously dumped into the rivers and farmland, but you know all this. What I think is a far more important and productive conversation is about what we can do to alleviate our impact and improve the world for the little people we have all committed to raising.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
This famous moniker crept its way into the public consciousness during the early 1970s. It has its roots in American anti-war sentiment however it could be argued that its influence might be much further reaching and more impactful than its inventers first imagined.
The idea of reducing our intake is an unassuming one- only use what you need. However, this becomes increasingly difficult when we have very little say over how much packaging comes with the products that we use. There has been a conscious effort of late to make things more ‘ecologically’ friendly by reducing the amount of packaging on certain products (a good case in point is multi packs of Quavers- yes, they are my favourite). However, as most people will attest there is still a significant way to go with this.
Reuse seems so modest- bags for life, plastic water bottles filled from the tap, even down to washing out and using takeaway boxes from the local Chinese as lunch boxes. Reusing products or better yet repurposing items seems to be the most cost reducing way of improving our impact on the environment but also not ‘wasting money’ by throwing still useful equipment away. However, I must be honest, I frequently find myself and the checkout of the local supermarket red faced and cursing myself for leaving the bags in the car…again. However, as times goes by and I am financially punished for it (the going price for a new bag at my local shop being 20p) I am getting much better at remembering.
Recycle. It’s a simple idea- make old into new, destroy and create at the same time, lessen the burden on finite materials by reusing old ones. However, in reality recycling is an industry all unto itself. Energy is still consumed remaking products and although it may have less on an impact on the environment it is still important to make sure that equipment which is useful is given as much opportunity to find a new home as possible (Reschool enter stage left).
Recycling in the UK
According to government statistics the Welsh lead the way on recycling in the UK, followed by norther Ireland and then England. In 2017 we recycled 45.7% of our household waste, which is not an insignificant amount. However, the government was aiming for an overall target of 50% by 2020- which as of writing this blog is a mere 2 days way (Wales being the only country to have surpassed this target). To end on a more positive note: ‘Recycling and other recovery’ is the most common way of disposing of unwanted stuff with 104 million tonnes being sent to these types of treatment plants during the 2016.