Debunking the Recycling Is Ok Myth - Why 91% fails to get recycled

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Debunking the Recycling Is Ok Myth

Another meal - more food waste!

Rethinking the 'it's ok, it can be recycled' myths.

Does recycling your waste make it ok to be used once and discarded?
Whenever possible rethinking the use of plastic is a number one priority. There are always alternatives to every single plastic bag, container and bottle consumer product packaged in plastic.
We can't rely on plastic recycling there is simply too much plastic manufacturing supply. 
"The United Nations Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP), estimated that land-based sources account for up to 80% of the world's marine pollution, 60% to 95% of the waste being plastics debris."
Dedicate thought and conscious acknowledgement before purchasing, using once and discarding plastic products.
Rethink the items you already have in plastic and next time you shop, consider what other choices you have. Opting for products supplied in glass, aluminium, paper or best of all no packaging is a better choice. Shifting habits take time. But that is all you are doing changing your habits. Conscious buying and putting pressure on manufacturing products for greener solutions is the only option.
While yes recycling is better than landfill waste. A staggering amount is not getting recycled.

In Australia, only 9% of recyclables get recycled due to volume, dirty and wrongly added content.

The other 91% of recyclable waste is going to landfill.

Reference: Australia broken recycling system
Mind-blowing and deeply sad when you thought you were making an effort to avoid landfill. Frustrating when you went to the extra effort to add something to the recycling bin. Damn right furious this is the world we inherited. Choose a better way.

Focus your energy on eliminating plastic waste entirely from use, one product at a time.

Choose an alternative product in glass, aluminium, steel or best of all no packaging. More on reducing bathroom plastics here.
In 2018, about 380 million tonnes of plastic was produced worldwide. Stop and think, where is it all going? 
"Plastic waste is one of many types of wastes that take too long to decompose. Normally, plastic items can take up to 1,000 years to decompose in landfills. Even plastic bags we use in our everyday life take anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years to decompose and plastic bottles can take 450 years or more." - The Decomposition of Waste in Landfillsead

A milk carton takes 5 years whereas milk in a plastic bottle that has or is not recyclable 450 years.

Glass can be sterilized and reused if that is an option to consider? At least as a stage of reducing waste choose milk in cartons.
Eliminating plastic waste and the amount of plastic will significantly reduce toxic chemicals that are leach into the soil and water supply. Plastic causes harm to ecosystems, animals (including humans) and is contaminating water supplies globally. Up to 8.8 million tones of plastic globally is entering waterways every year. - Wikipedia
So plastic is a big problem. Every time you refuse plastic items or choose an alternative packaging option you are making a difference. Put pressure on industries to change manufacturing by refusing to buy products that come in plastic. Believe in your fight.
More information, statistic and infographics about plastic pollution.


🌏 What can I do? 

What can I do to reduce waste and make recycling worth it? 

As we have determined you can rethink plastic, each and every consumer product. What you have already can it be used again? A potted plant, a storage container, craft?
Contact companies and question their materials and processes. The more consumers reach out to challenge brands we together will reach the common global goal to reduce landfill.

Wash your recyclables - Any food residue on recyclables renders them unable to be recyclable and they are sent to landfill.

If you do have recyclables take them to a specialist recycling facility that is set up and equipt to process that material for recycling. Recycling companies and local recycling are a far better solution than mixed curbside recycling. The mixed curbside recycling is reliant on no contamination and sorting that renders 91% unrecyclable. That means the majority never makes it to the recycling facility.

Aluminium cans and steel recycling

Aluminium and Steel Recycling
> Clean before Recycling <

Don't lose heart. Steel and aluminium have strong market demand around the world aluminium cans are 100% recyclable. On average around 50% of aluminium cans are getting recycled in Australia.
Why do aluminium cans and steel not get recycled?
The other 50% are not put in the correct waste collection ie: they are put in the landfill. But a large amount is not cleaned.
Wash your cans before recycling! Removing the paper wrap too and recycling that in the paper. Just like aluminium foil its best to collect enough paper to scrunch into a fist size ball to make sure it is getting detected.
Choose produce in aluminium cans has two opposing arguments. While limiting the about of food exposed to aluminium is valid. Aluminium cans are 100% recyclable when disposed of correctly. The choice is yours. Most canned goods can be purchased with no packaging ie: corn other produce like beans can be bought from a bulk store.

Aluminium foil recycling

Aluminium Foil or Tin Foil
> Clean, Collect and Scrunch <

Aluminium foil also known as tin foil needs to be cleaned and scrunched together tightly to form a ball. Ideal size in a hand full, tightly clenched in your fist to form a ball of aluminium foil.
If you add small pieces of aluminium foil to your recycling they get missed.
You have a much better chance of having chocolate wrappers recycled by collecting them until you can add them to a large piece of aluminium foil and scrunch the entire lot.

Dedicate a container (perfect option to reuse a plastic container) for aluminium foil. Once you have enough to scrunch into a tight fist you can assume it will get recycled.

Recycling glass

> Reuse <

Glass is ok, but limit the use and always reuse rather than recycle. Glass is made from sand, soda ash and limestone. Whilst sand is in abundance removing it damages ecosystems.
To produce glass is energy-intensive meaning a large quantity of power is required to produce glass. Whilst renewable sources are the goal for glass manufacturing, the reality is like not of this source. Realistically coal and gas are cheaper as used to make glass. At least at the time of writing these fossil fuels are cheaper, go green energy.
Recycling glass jars around your household does have a place. Food purchased in reusable bags or in paper compostable bags needs to be stored in airtight containers. Reusing glass jars with metal lids is perfect for this purpose. They are useful for homemade produce such as jams, relishes and pickled foods.
Considering glass products practical reuse, so jars are or aesthetic, easier to remove labels and work better than others.
Glass jars can be refilled at bulk stores, breweries refill growlers for beer and glass bottles can be used to collect milk, yoghurt and other dairy products. Easily to clean and reuse over and over.

Recycling paper and cardboard

Paper and Cardboard
> Recycled or Sustainably Sourced <

Choosing paper that has been made from recycled paper is always the best choice when buying paper products. Our toilet paper is made from paper, not trees. Read and discover where your paper has been sourced from next time you buy toilet paper, tissues, printer paper, envelopes and any other paper products.
If your paper has not to be made from already recycled paper make sure it carries the sustainably sourced logo. 
Look out for sticky tape or labels that will make recycling difficult and remove before recycling.
Avoid bleached paper, look for unbleached paper.
Feed your compost, brown paper and cardboard or cardboard that uses natural ink can be food for your compost. In fact, the right kind of compost requires 50% brown nutrients which includes paper and garden waste. More on composting can be discovered here.
Failing composting collet your paper and cardboard and take to your local paper recycling centre. It is always better than adding to your curbside recycling waste collection as we have discovered, most of that recycling is not getting to facilities.
Reuse paper as wrapping paper, use the other side printed paper for notes and depending on where you live as fuel for your winter fire.

Plastic recycling and how to avoid using plastic

> Avoid <

The number one focus is to avoid plastic from the need to be recycled or added to landfill. Plastic can take up to 1000 years to break down. A toothbrush takes 200 years to decompose.
Plastic contains chemicals that as they decompose turn into poisonous gases (methane) which are then leeches into the earth, water and the air. Plastic ends up in our oceans, tangles around wildlife and suffocates our environment. 
Single-use plastic while on the decline needs your help. Always refuse single-use plastic bags - they are never ok.
A solution is to carry reusable shopping bags and use a reusable drink bottle and coffee cup.
Dine-in and save the packaging.
Slow down, if you forget your reusable coffee cup sit down in the cafe for 5-10 minutes and relax. Opt for a piccolo or short black coffee instead, they cool in a minute and you can drink as fast as you need to be on your way.
Eat-in and refuse takeaway containers. Single-use takeaway containers, bags and packaging need to stop. Still want take-away, go for a walk to get some exercise and your endorphins pumping, take a container to pick up your takeaway. Always make sure you have cleaned the container suitably.
Build demand through choosing no packaging or better plastic alternatives; packaging made from recycled materials, glass, aluminium, cardboard or plastic that carry the PET or HDPE symbols.
Keep your bathroom plastic-free, read about superior alternatives that have no plastic packaging. 
If you have plastic recycling the plastic needs to be cleaned, check lid on or off? Each council has different requirements. Google 'lids on or off' add in your state and country 


Beyond 2020

Shifting your consumer habits.

Every plastic container and bottle you are using can be replaced with a more sustainable option.

We don't need to be using plastic - anything!


Reusable shopping bags

Carry a (or two) reusable shopping bag at all times. Rather than feel frustrated you have forgotten your reusable bag (again) have it at all times. Remember we are changing habits, make life as easy as possible and have your own back.
If you forget a bag, you can carry something! I saw today a lady carrying a new box of shoes down the street. She was carrying it like she had discovered treasure. The glory and glow for refusing the extra bag to hold her purchase. The way she was holding the box I felt satisfied that she would be mindfully enjoying her new shoes and re-using the box for any millions of purposes.

HEREU+ NET SUSTAIN Cala large leather-trimmed canvas tote
Splurge! You can when you are investing in a sustainable shopper bag.
Mindful style means you own just 1, adore shopping bags. When you use it, it becomes more than a bag, it becomes a treasured item. A closet must-have that makes you feel comfortable using it, you enjoy it's aesthetic, a bag you want to use.
Click to SHOP | HEREU + NET SUSTAIN - Cala canvas tote


Biome - Organic cotton canvas tote bag - 'World in Our Hands'
Affordable practical 100% sustainable organic cotton reusable bag.
Click to SHOP | Biome - Organic cotton canvas tote bag - 'World in Our Hands'
End-use of this bag is it is composted, as it is 100% cotton.


Reusable produce bags

The best range of produce bags I have found, I completely trust The ones I bought are featured below. I am somewhat fuss and not into advertising. 
The Keeper reusable produce bags are incredible, I really am very happy with mone. You can read all about The Keeper products and brands directly on their site. 

The Keeper Organic Cotton diamond mesh produce bags 4pk
Click to SHOP | The Keeper - Organic cotton produce bags

Reusable coffee cups

Sadly I have been through a lot of reusable coffee cups. Is it just me, have you had reusable coffee cups leak, all over you? I seem to take one sip and they drip down my clothes, face and making a mess far too early in the morning. I really love coffee and look forward to my two cups a day tremendously.
That was until I came across Frank Green reusable coffee cups. I have the big one, love my large long black. You can style your Frank Green coffee cup as you like on their site
It hasn't leaked, it works great, look I am happy and that's why I am featuring it here. It's the best reusable coffee cup I have discovered. 

Frank Green reusable coffee cups

Click to SHOP | Frank Green reusable coffee cups


Reusable drink bottles

Made from steel which is as discussed above 100% recyclable at the end of its drink bottle life. In a quest to be as waste-free as possible this drink bottle is the best drink bottle I can find. Made from steel that can be 100% recycled this is considered a green resource.

There are various sizes, I like water so I went with the biggest size which is 1 litre.

Cheeki 1L Stainless Steel Water Bottle - Matte Black

Click to SHOP | Cheeki 1L Stainless Steel Water Bottle


Solutions for how to limit plastic in your home

  • Reduce plastic use, choose glass, aluminium, paper or NO packaging
  • Reduce plastic in your bathroom - Click the link to learn how it's a superior solution!
  • Choose plastic with #1 PET or #2 HDPE
  • Recycle plastic bottles and cans at your local 'return and earn' facility
  • Clean your recyclable waste
  • Carry a reusable shopping bag
  • Use reusable drink bottles and coffee cups
  • Bulk packaging stores
  • Be proactive - unite and contact companies who could be doing better
  • Buy items made out of recycled material to increase the demand, production and availability 

Further on recycling please read this post about starting a compost, what to do with food scraps and food waste. Fodd scraps and waste added to landfill waste creates poisonous gasses that are 25 times worse than car fumes (carbon dioxide).
Thank you for reading,
Take it easy on your self, it's a staged process and changing habits takes time. I encourage you to be proactive, talk to friends, neighbours and inspire each other.
Let businesses know if they could do better, be greener. It's your part in unravelling this less waste, less emissions, less taking and more giving puzzle - how did we get to this point?
Fight for change.

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Post written by Harper Sinclair. Content creator for

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