The Best Way to Start Greening Your Life



Recycling (shutterstock image)

Recycling your waste is one of the absolute best ways to start greening your life, if you have been putting off doing so.

It saves the earth’s resources by reusing materials.  It prevents dangerous chemicals from polluting rivers, soil and the air. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

But there is something far more valuable and long lasting you will gain from recycling.

Recycling will change the way you think.  Recycling will change how you choose.  Recycling will change how you buy;  it will change what you buy.

In the end, recycling will save you money.

Ready to give it a try? Here are some tips to get you started.

Find a Space

It might sound silly or obvious, but identify a space where all recycling has to go.  Having a set space to take recycling to will immediately increase your chances at success.

Also remember: recycling is not just about sorting your waste.  It is also about getting recycled waste to a depot from where it can be processed. So ensure your space is somewhere you will remember to pick it up on your way out.

Contain It

Get dedicated containers to store your recycling in.  It can be anything from dedicated dustbins, to crates or used plastic shopping bags.

Try to set up containers in such a way that recycling gets deposited directly into the container that it is going to get disposed off in.  So if you use a crate, line it with a plastic bag for easy pick up and go.

Word of advice: start with containers you already have in the house.  Next, figure out how much recycling your household generates and how often you dispose of recycled items. Once you have established quantities and schedule, you can invest in the right size and type of containers, if you need to.

Cultivate New Habits

Most things are easy to do … once.  Doing it over and over again until it becomes a habit takes a little bit more effort.

So don’t rush into it. Start with one (maximum two) items to recycle, for instance glass or paper. Only add more items once you have the habit properly formed and the details sorted.

Rome wasn’t built in one day.  Neither does your recycling effort have to be.

Begin with the End in Mind

How do you decide which item to start recycling? Easy peasy.

Find the nearest, easiest recycling depot to your house, and whatever is recycled there, that’s the product you start with.

Easy drop-off is half the battle won.

Get Everyone on Board the Recycling Train

This can be a tricky one, depending on who you share your dwelling with.  Recycling isn’t difficult, but it requires commitment, and commitment, and more commitment.

Don’t war. Don’t blame. Don’t shame.

Focus on the positives. Encourage. Celebrate small victories.

South Africans do not yet have a recycling culture or  -laws, as some European and other countries, so it remains a largely voluntary act to recycle.  And for voluntary acts you need volunteers.

Get it? Now get going.  And if you mess up, don’t fret. Reboot, simplify even more, and start again.


Second Time Around


Recycling can only be effective if there is a viable and growing market for recycled- over virgin produced products.  The international recycling symbol shows a loop of three arrows following each other and symbolising the dependant nature of the process.  Once your waste is recycled, these materials need to be re-used to produce recycled products in order to close the loop.

Due to current technologies and scales of production, recycled counterparts are often more costly than their virgin produced cousins.  However, a bigger demand for recycled will probably speak louder than the cry for sustainable production.  Investment, financial and other, will result in more effective and efficient production, driving prices down.

We are the generation who have to turn the tide.  Choose wisely by choosing recycled whenever you can.