Become a recycling champion!

As Britain shows its true colours in some sterling Olympic performances, has some tips to help you become a recycling champion!

We Brits throw away nearly 450 million tonnes of household waste every year, a large amount of which ends up being incinerated or sent to landfill, polluting either our air or our Earth. Waste items like plastic shopping bags take literally hundreds of years to degrade, so the best option is to find ways to minimise household waste and reuse any that we do end up with. With many landfill sites in Britain just 10 years away from being completely full, we need to act now to make sure that our beautiful country is just as lovely the next time it sees the Olympic Games!

Over half of all household waste can actually be recycled, so here are a few ideas on how you can beat your own recycling record!

Set up a Cardboard Box!
We’re not talking about a box made of cardboard, we’re talking about a box in which you can collect your old cardboard, card and paper! Given that cardboard and paper products make up a fifth of the household waste we throw out every year, it’s time to start recycling those envelopes, catalogues, cereal boxes and newspapers!

Don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach!
We Brits have something to answer for when it comes to food waste. Every single year, £12 billion worth of food is thrown away here in the UK – that’s a staggering 7.2 million tonnes. A few tips, then: don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry as you’ll end up picking up things you fancy rather than things you’re actually going to eat. And, in the meantime, try investing in an energy-efficient chest freezer so you can save anything you don’t eat for later!

Become King or Queen of the compost!
Uncooked food waste including vegetable peelings, apple cores and banana skins can be popped in a compost bin to decompose into a meal fit for a king – well, a king worm, that is! And, once the happy little blighters have munched their way through it all, you’ve got top quality compost for your garden. You can even buy composting worms online to help with the process – good news for the kids if they’re into creepy-crawlies!

Don’t bottle it!
Your average four-person UK household uses approximately 330 glass bottles and jars per year. It’s hard to believe but, by recycling just two glass bottles, you can save enough energy to boil a kettle with enough water in it for five cups of tea! So, if like most Brits, you could win a gold medal in tea-drinking, get your bottom down to that bottle bank!

Can we fix it?
Yes we can! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the millions of cans we see on the supermarket shelves are all made out of metal, which takes a whole lot of energy to dig up and process. Recycling cans is so much better for the environment, and it’s minimum effort. Just pop a big box in a quiet corner somewhere and chuck all the cans you use in there. A quick wash out with some water and they’re ready for recycling!

Scrap for cash!
If you’re having a clear-out or replacing old appliances with new ones, it’s worth bearing in mind that many large metal items from in and around the home can be worth a few bob to your local scrap metal merchant! Make sure you get in touch with a reputable dealer who complies with all necessary environmental legislation, and you’ll soon find out what they can offer for that old iron bed frame or bath-tub!

Won’t fit in your wheelie bin?
Could be Bulky Waste! The Bulky Waste scheme, which combined recycling and charity, allows you to book a collection for any household items that are too big for your wheelie bin – cookers, cupboards, chairs, washing machines – you name it, Bulky Waste can pick it up and either reuse or recycle it. For furniture or household items that are in a near perfect condition, there’s also Furniture Donation Network!

From rags to riches!
It’s a good idea to go through your wardrobes maybe once or twice a year and throw out anything you don’t wear anymore. If the clothes are in good condition and could be worn again, try donating them to a local homeless shelter or charity shop. Alternatively, if they really have worn through, you can chop them up and use them for dusters, cushion stuffing or patchwork quilts!

Ever ready to recycle?
Every year in the UK, we manage to work our way through over 30,000 tonnes of batteries every year. However, those faithful AA batteries that fit everything from your TV remote control to your hand-held hoover actually contain some pretty harmful chemicals that need to be disposed of responsibly to avoid damaging the environment. Make sure you get your old batteries recycled – many supermarkets now have battery bins for their customers!

Don’t be a recycling phoney!
Don’t throw your clunky old mobile phone away! Even if it’s been chucked away in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, your old phone can be recycled – either by a charity that specialises in reusing phones or by a company that recycles them and offers customers a bit of cash in return. Some mobile phone companies will even part exchange, so there’s always a way to go for gold – or green! – when it comes to recycling your hand-held!

There are loads of ways to take your recycling record to an Olympic standard this year, so get the whole family in on making your household a cleaner, greener one!

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