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Recycling made easy: Top tips for creating a convenient and effective recycling system in your home

15 November 2022
Recycling made easy: Top tips for creating a convenient and effective recycling system in your home -  recycling made easy

We are all well aware of the fact that the world is facing an environmental catastrophe. 

We have also realised that learning how to care for our environment has become an essential life skill. One that our children need to learn from a very early age so that it becomes a life-long habit. 

As with most life-skills, the very best place for children to learn is at home. Recycling should be part of their daily lives, practiced constantly and reinforced continually… until it becomes second nature. 

It is up to us parents to raise environmentally responsible adults, with a better chance of having a decent planet to live on.

Setting up a recycling system at home is the ideal way to ensure children become environmentally aware and to give them the opportunity to be part of the solution.

There is a misconception that recycling at home requires lots of space and effort. 

In fact, a very simple and effective system can be set up using minimum additional space and requiring very little extra effort. 

All that is needed is a commitment from all family members to separate the materials that can be recycled from the other rubbish that the household generates. 

Before you start, the only groundwork required is to find out where your closest recycling centres are, what materials they accept and whether there is a collection truck that may service your area. 

Some areas have buy-back centres where they will buy your recyclables, for example Packa-Ching. 

Generally, materials that cannot be recycled include waxy paper, cling film, plastic bags and plastic food wrapping, bubble wrap, and polystyrene. Batteries and electronics need to be taken to specialist recyclers.

  • The simplest home system requires three separate bags – your normal rubbish bin for general waste, a good-sized bin/box/bag for recyclables, and a smaller container for organic waste. All three should all be close to one another to make things as easy as possible and to be a constant reminder to family members and visitors.
  • If you have the space, you can set up separate containers for the different recyclables – paper, glass, plastic and metal. Paint them different colours so younger children will know the difference. However, most recycling centres are happy to separate recyclables themselves.
  • Organic waste like fruit and vegetable peelings, eggshells, tea leaves and coffee grounds can all be added to your compost heap. Most children like the idea of “feeding the worms” and will happily make the trip to the compost heap carrying a bag of banana peels and potato skins.
  • When it comes to the recyclables, it is important to keep things as clean and hygienic as possible. Wash and dry all bottles, plastic containers and tins, before putting them in the recycle bin. Make sure that there are no food scraps or residue stuck to any cardboard containers or boxes.
  • Flatten, squash and squeeze all your recyclables to make as much room as possible in your container.
  • Keep the lids of metal cans attached to the can and fold them inwards to cover their sharp edges.
  • All plastic bottles can be recycled, from water containers to shampoo bottles.
  • All glass jars and bottles are fully recyclable, but NOT the glass from drinking glasses, vases, windows or mirrors. These glass products contaminate the recyclable glass.
  • Most metallic items can be recycled – empty spray cans, cooldrink and beer cans, and tinned food cans. Clean aluminium foil that is not contaminated with food is also recyclable. 

Lead by example, showing your children how to cut down on packaging and unnecessary plastic.

Carry your own cloth bags when you go food shopping so that you don’t need to use the plastic bags from the supermarket.

While you are shopping, ask your children to see how many products they can find that are covered in unnecessary plastic.

Buy refills for cleaning products and continue to use the original containers for as long as possible. 

Convert old sheets, towels and clothing into cleaning rags. Cut them up and store them with your cleaning supplies.

Every time we reuse and recycle, our children watch and learn to live sustainably. 

This makes the small amount of extra effort involved in recycling well worth it.

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