Monday, 22 June 2009

Why is recycling not enough?

In this day and age, we're all encouraged to 'do our bit' for the environment. The most obvious action that most people take is recycling, and it's easy to see why - councils provide the means for us to do simply by giving us a separate box for paper, glass and whatever else your council has decided to collect from you.

Whilst recycling is a great and important thing to do, the downside is that it eases people's consciences and can make them think they've 'done their bit' and that they don't have to do anymore - which is far from satisfactory.

If people recycle, the basic problem is that they have, in the first instance, consumed/bought/used something which has a waste element to it. I'm not saying we should never buy anything, but think carefully about the first part of the three R's mantra - REDUCE. We should all be thinking and acting to reduce our waste and recycling by not consuming as much, or at least being more selective about our purchases.

Accepting the fact that living a modern lifestyle will inevitably mean we end up with stuff to recycle, we should also be aware that recycling only works if we, as consumers, choose products containing recycled materials. In other words, if you recycle loads of paper, do you make sure the lovely A4 printer paper you buy has a high or even 100% recycled content? Doing this means precious resources are saved and it takes less energy to recycle old paper into new paper than to cut down trees and start the process from the beginning. The same applies to glass and many metals too. This is the second part of the three R's - REUSE.

Finally, if you have reduced and reused, then the final option is of course, to RECYCLE.

The YouTube clip below helps to illustrate some of the issues regarding paper.

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