There’s no denying it, recycling can be confusing. We may get those little magnets that go on our fridge telling us how to recycle, but when it comes to years of bad habits, it takes a lot more research and self-discipline to improve our recycling habits.
While it’s important we work on educating ourselves individually, what about family members or housemates?
My girlfriend and her roommate are from Singapore, where recycling isn’t treated as seriously as it is in Australia. It’s been a very eye-opening experience as I find myself having to teach them the fundamentals of recycling over very small details. But in doing so, I learned heaps about how I was also recycling wrong, and things I was taught as a kid have either been phased out or were always misconceptions about recycling.
If you’re like me and feel like you’re out of the loop on whether you’re incorrectly recycling, or need more info on how to educate those you live with, here’s how you can gently help everyone in your household recycle properly.
Inform them of drink container recycling
If you live in Queensland, there’s actually a great way to recycle your bottles and cans and earn a lil’ bit of cash on the side.
A keen eye may have even seen the 10c label on these and wondered what that might be for, and the answer is quite simple!
If you have old containers, bottles and cans that you’re looking to get rid of that are marked with a 10c label, you can recycle these at your local Containers For Change Queensland drop-off point. Your recycling will get sent off to appropriate processors that will repurpose the materials into something new.
Educate them to not put recycling in a plastic bag
I remember in the past talking about recycling with a coworker. I was surprised to learn that people wrapped their recycling in plastic and put that in their recycling bins. The shock of horror on their face when they realised they had been doing the same for years and were wrong about it. Their reasoning was that it was how they had always been taught to do it.
Kerbside recycling plastic bags originally comes from the United States, however in Australia, if you were to bag your recycling in plastic, it would not get processed.
If you see your housemate dropping recycling into a plastic bag, you definitely need to intervene by gently letting them know that it won’t actually be recycled.
Wash food waste from recycling
If you live in a share house, and it takes weeks to take out your recycling, this one is gonna be essential.
Fortunately, not all packaging needs to be rinsed out, but you will especially need to rinse the ones that will smell pungent in the heat like milk cartons.
Gentle reminders can be just leaving a note on the fridge and politely requesting that when they do the dishes, they wash their recycling as well.
Less gentle reminders could be leaving that unwashed tub of milk to curdle under their bed. We don’t condone the action, but hopefully, the point is made.
Avoid single-use plastics where possible
It’s an oldie, but still an unfortunate relevant goodie.
While many hospitality and service industries have been adopting eco-friendly packaging for food and groceries, you’ll still often find the occasional plastics here and there.
Investing in great alternatives like reusable cups, metal straws and reusable beeswax cloth for plastic wrapping can help reduce your day-to-day plastic waste.
Ensuring that you’re separating these single-use soft plastics from your hard plastics in your recycling will also help drastically in not contaminating all of your recycling.
Recycling and eco-friendly practices have been a huge point that companies have been addressing over the last few years. Making sure you’re on top of your recycling practices will be vital to make sure you haven’t held on to any bad habits from before. If you’d like to update your knowledge click here to read more about the different recycling labels.
If you’re looking to get rid of those containers and cans lying around, visit Containers For Change Queensland to find your local refund point and get some cash for your responsible recycling efforts.