I learned how to protect the environment through school and my parents. We recycle newspapers, magazines and we limit our use of plastic bags by storing reusable bags in the car. Our actions demonstrate that we care for the environment but I don’t think we’re doing much to save the environment at all.
Although my parents use recycling bags when running errands, they often come back from the wet market with more plastic bags. My mom collects glass jars and plastic containers and recycle them in the city but she throws away plastic packaging when she unpacks the groceries. Now do you think I’d do better than my parents? Unfortunately, no. Sometimes I accept plastic bags from vendors because I use them to line my trash bin. I also throw away plastic packaging when I unpack my groceries.
A few months ago, I finally decided to do what I can to change my current habits in order to make my home a better place. The three categories I need to work on is recycling beauty products, oral care products and soft plastics the right way.
Think about how you’d normally dispose beauty, body care and oral care products? Do you put them into the regular recycling bin? If so, you need to stop doing that! According to the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA), we can only put the following items into the yellow recycling bin:
- newspapers, paper, magazines
- glass bottles and jars
- plastic containers (soft drinks, milk, ice cream, margarine and yogurt)
- steel cans
Why is that you say? Because the type of plastic used to create the tubes and containers for beauty, body care and oral care products are different. Hence, you need to recycle them through a different channel. If you live in Australia, you could do that through TerraCycle. TerraCycle collaborates with major consumer product companies, retailers, manufacturers and small business in 20 different countries to recycle coffee capsules, pens, plastic gloves and more. TerraCycle offers free recycling programs and solutions to make recycling a part of our lifestyle. All you have to do is sign up (it’s free), start collecting (from home, office or school), download the free shipping labels and send your waste to be recycled (you can opt to drop them off). Members are rewarded with TerraCycle points which they can redeem for cash and donate to a non-profit organization or school of their choice. I signed up for the Beauty Products Recycling Program a few months ago and I’ve collected up to 10 products to date. TerraCycle can expect a huge box of goodies once I’m ready to move out!
Tom Szaky was 19 years old when he first got the idea for TerraCycle. The Princeton freshman wanted to eliminate waste by making quality fertilizer from food waste. Szaky went through a hard time and was close to giving up until he met Suman Sinha, TerraCycle’s first investor. Read the rest of the story here.
If you’re not sure what to do with the plastic packaging you get from the supermarkets, don’t fret. You can recycle them through the REDcycle program. RED Group is a Melbourne based consulting and recycling organisation that developed and implemented the program that allows consumers to recycle soft plastic such as bread bag, pasta and rice bags, old green bags, cereal box liners, just to name a few. Over the years, RED Group has teamed up with Coles, Woolworths and other Australia’s well-loved brands to make recycling easier for consumers.
Although major supermarkets in Australia do take part in this green initiative, I feel that they could’ve done a better job. We know that consumers and manufacturers use a stupid amount of plastic everyday (if you don’t, look it up) so I assume major supermarkets would have a REDcycle bin in all of their outlets. But it turns out that I have to go to specific places to drop off the soft plastics I’ve collected. What’s even more frustrating is that the Woolworths I shop at is located in one of the busiest areas in the city and yet there’s not a single REDcycle bin in sight. If they don’t make recycling convenient for consumers, how are we supposed to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that goes out to the landfill?
Usually I’d vent about it and then move on. But this time I decided to write to Woolworths. I explained the situation and noted down the benefits of having a REDcycle bin at QV centre. They wrote back saying that they’re aware of the situation and is in the process of rolling out the REDcycle program to the rest of the outlets. I’m so glad to hear that.
Take a moment to reflect on your current lifestyle habits. Do you consider yourself an environmentally friendly person or you don’t really care? If you’re in the latter category, why do you think that? Consuming is a big part of our lives and it’s worth taking the initiative to reduce unnecessary waste. Make your home a better place now and be mindful when you consume.
You can make a difference.