Climate change and global warming are widely cited as being the greatest threat the planet faces today. As governments around the world scramble to gain greener credentials and reach greenhouse gas emissions targets, recycling has become increasingly important to help reduce our drain on the planet’s resources.
The last 200-or-so years have seen an exponential rise in the scale and type of damage man has inflicted on Earth. Indeed, many scientists now believe we have reached a critical tipping point where our continued inaction against our willful exploitation of the planet could prove irreversible.
While most of us realize recycling is important, it can often feel like a literal drop in the ocean compared to the overall picture. However, recycling is an integral part of the route out of our current predicament. Here are a few common household items you possibly didn’t know could be recycled.
Cigarettes: It may seem unlikely, but cigarette waste from packaging and cigarettes themselves can be repurposed and melted into plastics for other uses.
Shampoo and shower gel containers: Most people are aware basic plastic bottles can be recycled, but the same applies to many common personal care product containers like those for shampoos, conditioners, body cremes and shower gels. To check if the bottle is suitable, look for a #1 or #2 on the bottle’s base, signaling it can be recycled (note, you should always remember to thoroughly rinse the bottles). There are also multiple other uses for used product bottles if you think creatively.
Porcelain toilets and bathroom items: The humble toilet might appear an unlikely candidate for recycling but porcelain is actually highly recyclable and, with the right treatment, can be transformed into concrete suitable for use on sidewalks or roads. Textiles and porcelains are typically accepted by specialist companies that will bundle up items using 14 gauge galvanized wire before transferring them in bulk to processing facilities. Check online for local agents as municipal waste services are often unwilling to remove such bulky objects.
Computers and electronics: It’s estimated that computers, devices and cell phones account for around 50 million tons of waste every year. However, even if your device is old, it can still be salvaged for parts or resold to less-developed nations. Indeed, some manufacturers and suppliers offer trade-in deals, giving reductions on new products if you part-exchange your older model.
Cosmetics items and containers: Lipsticks, mascaras and eyeshadows etc, typically come neatly packaged in some form of plastic container that can easily be recycled for other purposes. Even brushes and sponges can be recycled with the correct processes. Many cosmetic suppliers these days offer discounts or free products if you return your used product containers.
Medical inhalers: Millions of inhalers ae thrown away each year and end up in landfill when they could easily have been recycled or reused. Indeed, a few years ago pharma giant GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) ran an initiative to increase awareness of inhaler recycling. If you’re in any doubt, check with your local pharmacy – most will accept used inhalers for recycling.
Fluorescent lightbulbs: The majority of homes these days have moved to using energy-efficient, fluorescent lightbulbs – but the green credentials of these bulbs don’t just stop at better energy use. Modern lightbulbs can also be recycled to remove the mercury and phosphor and separate the glass and metal to be reused for other purposes.