Recycling is one of the oldest `do it for the environmental messages’. Today it is easier to recycle than ever before and with 7 Billion of us on Earth we need to recycle as much for ourselves as for the environment. Avoidance, Re- use and Upcycling are the new Green of Recycling with avoidance being the DARK Green.
Do you really need that new gadget, appliance, stuff etc? Will it make an important difference to your life or do you want it. There are interesting reads about how we substitute material wants for the needs that the treadmill of commute, work, compete and consume don’t satisfy. With a few exceptions we all do it. With a bit of conscious consumerism, we can avoid material clutter and spend our money and time with friends and doing activities that really add meaning to life.
Re –use of articles means that the embedded energy and resources are also re-used. It can be as simple as home made preserves in shop bought jars. Some of the best examples of re use are the wide range of businesses that sell good but used products. In some cases, second hand is even more sought after than new. Although glass bottles are successfully recycled in South Africa, most should be re- used. It is a huge indictment on the wine, beer and bottled food industry today that they do not collect their bottles for re use. The range of bottle shapes and colours which marketing companies claim is essential to promote unique brands make collection for re use uneconomical. We have lost the plot, the quality of the content and a low impact on the environment need to speak for a product not its visual image.
Upcycling is a new buzz word, a kind of marketing agency’s approach to making re – use of products designer and desirable. Upcycling essentially means taking a used article e.g. a car tyre and modifying it to so that it has a new improved use. e.g. a swing, or turning used wine barrels into garden furniture, or glass bottles into lanterns. The options are as wide as an entrepreneur’s imagination.
And then there is recycling. As the raw materials, the energy and the water used to make all our stuff and its packaging becomes scarce and more expensive it makes sense to reclaim these resources through recycling if you cant extend their life through re-use or upcycling. It is good for the planet and creates new business opportunities. The secret to successful recycling is increasing volume and proximity to markets. This is why we all need to start a Recycling Revolution at home & work.
Today most things can be recycled if not re-used or upcycled – the list includes cooking oil, motor oil, batteries, car tyres, ink cartridges, electronic appliances, food waste, dog dirt and the old favourites, plastic, glass, paper and tin.
Click on the link to a directory of recyclers in the South Peninsula of Cape Town
Recycling breaks down the material to produce new products e.g. PET 1 beverage bottles are recycled into new PET1 bottles, or shredded into fibres to make sports shirts or fleece blankets. Polystyrene packaging is turned into coat hangers and picture frames. Recycling is becoming more viable as new technology and an increasing volume of recycled material opens doors to re-constitute used packaging and products into new ones. The BreadTags for Wheelchairs project run by Mary Honeybun is a flagship project. Over the past 6 years, with collectors from across the country, Mary sends millions of Bread Tags to a recycler who produces seedling trays. The money from the sale of Bread Tags has enabled her to buy over 400 wheelchairs which she donates directly to disabled people in need.
KimK July 2013