Recycling made easy: Our top tips

With every passing day, recycling – the process of converting the things we throw away into new items – becomes more and more important.

As a society, we’ve become more aware of the dangers our mass consumption is having on the environment. While positive change is gradually happening – e.g. the implementation of plastic carrier bag charges and the widespread adoption of reusable water bottles and coffee cups – change is not happening fast enough.

Ideally, we wouldn’t need to recycle, we’d all just use less in the first place. However, it’s not always possible so it’s important to recycle in ways which will ensure maximum environmental sustainability.

With only 45% of household waste being recycled, it’s critical that we all make a conscious effort to recycle. To give you a head start, we’ve outlined our top tips for becoming a waste warrior.

Look up what you can recycle

Different councils have different rules so it’s important to check what can and can’t be recycled in your area. Luckily, the government have provided a handy tool on their website, so you find out if your council collects recycling and how to recycle household waste in your local area.

Squash bottles

Where possible, avoid buying plastic bottles and instead purchase a refillable, reusable alternative.

However, if you do need to purchase plastic bottles, make sure you squash the bottle, removing any lids, before recycling them. Not only does this save space, but it also stops them rolling off the sorting machine conveyor belts.

Supermarket recycling

The obvious one is to take your own bags to pack your shopping. Not only are you doing your bit to save the environment, you’re also saving yourself some money (those 5ps quickly add up!).

If you do find yourself with too many plastic carrier bags, most big supermarkets have recycling point where they can be recycled. Research has indicated that this could increase the amount of supermarket packaging you recycle by up to 10%.

Empty and rinse recycling

Before you recycle, make sure you give the items a quick rinse. They don’t need to be pristine but removing residual food waste will help make sure other more porous products (such a card or paper) aren’t contaminated if they are in the same recycling load.

Use leftovers

Avoid throwing away food wherever possible. Last night’s dinner leftovers can work well for lunch the next day. Most councils now offer food waste disposal so use these for vegetable peelings etc if you don’t have a compost pile.

House recycling bins

If you can, invest in recycling bins in areas of the house with high volumes of recycling. The kitchen is an obvious one, but don’t forget about the bathroom. Items such as shampoo bottles and bubble bath are often overlooked, so it helps to have a dedicated recycling bin somewhere close to hand to put them.

Charity shops

Unwanted clothes and items can be donated to charity shops. This is a double win because they don’t go to landfill and the charity can make money from them. It’s also a good idea to buy clothes from charity shops rather than brand new when possible. Find out what you can and can’t donate here.

For more tips on becoming more environmentally conscious, check out some of our other posts:

Ways to reduce your carbon footprint

How to live a sustainable life

What are you doing to help look after the environment? Share your tips with us on Facebook and Twitter.