Friday, 19 November 2010

Being Green Part One - Recycling

Ever since I was a kid, I've been picking up environmental tips almost via osmosis.  My mum and my gran both used a mixture of modern and traditional cleaning materials, while my dad tried to avoid using pesticides on the allotment, favouring companion planting or good old fashioned washing up liquid to remove bugs.

In the late 1980s, I was taking my first steps as a stroppy teenager and getting all political.  If there was an environmental bandwagon, I probably stepped on it at some point.  I can remember vowing to disown my mum if I caught her wearing a fur coat (her response was she's bear that in mind if ever we miraculously got stinking rich!) and crying over the slaughter of whales and seals.  Probably the most influential on my life was the recycling movement.

Now, certainly where I grew up in suburban Surrey, recycling was something of a novelty, but as soon as those bottle banks were placed in the car park of the supermarket (never very super in our village) I was making a right nuisance of myself insisting all glass be taken down there and throwing a right hissy fit if any found it's way into the bin.  However, we did already have a well established compost heap system going so my parents soon got into the hang of collecting bottles up.  Thinking about it, they're still very good at collecting them, but a bit slow on actually taking them to be recycled!  They're a work in progress :)

These days, of course, recycling is often much easier.  Where we currently live, we have a brown wheelie bin for garden waste - grass cuttings, prunings, and so on; a green bin for recyclable waste, such as glass, paper, aerosols and tins, and a black bin for everything else.  However, our last house only had a small box for your recycling, while some councils have different bins for different materials, so it's not a consistent system.  I wonder what other countries have?

Of course, there is always more that can be done.  One thing we lack is a composting system.  Because we rent this house, we can't establish anything permanent, so if we set up a compost heap we would have to remove all trace of it when we move out, which seems a waste.  One solution would be a wormery, but my husband isn't keen on the idea for some reason, and I'm not sure how the worms take to moving home, so it will have to wait I think.  I will get one though :)

Of course an important part of the recycling process is to buy recycled too.  Gone are the days when the recycled A4 pads I bought for my school work were all scratchy and gave a very rough surface for writing on; now you can often only tell it's recycled paper because of the discreet recycled logo on the cover.  It's the same for many items; glass, tin cans, even tyres are being recycled for further use.  Then there's recycling clothing and furniture, either by turning it into something new or by appreciating their vintage appeal.  The possibilities are endless really.

For more information on recycling, there are many sources of information.  Contact your local council to see what can be recycled and how they use it; check out the prospectus of a local college to learn a new craft such as dressmaking, so you can repair or re-use old clothes, or mosaic making for a unique way of using broken crockery.  Some councils may even provide you with a subsidised compost bin if you didn't want a traditional heap.  Just remember, every time you recycle and buy recycled you are helping to protect this glorious planet upon which we live.

Blessed be )0(