In today’s post I’m looking at how responsible I am about disposing of waste.
Although I would always claim to have had an interest in green issues, embarrassingly, I have never actually made time to take stock and look at how I get rid of the things I am finished with. Any good practices I have can probably be credited to council schemes (e.g. recycling programmes) and what is socially acceptable – for example, I think most people would probably frown upon clothes being binned instead of donated to a charity shop?
Here are the main ways I can think of that we get rid of things from our household:
General Recycling: my local authority has a programme whereby we are issued with boxes for paper, cardboard, some plastic packaging, tins and glass. These are collected fortnightly on the kerbside, as is a bag for our garden waste. We fill these up, sometimes to the point of overflowing. It is fair to say that we don’t check the card detailing what items we can put in the boxes enough so there may be items that we throw out instead of recycling.
Local Authority Recycling Centre (‘the dump’): Sometimes we have clear-outs in the house that unearth awkward items such as broken pieces of furniture, old batteries or electrical items that no longer work. We usually leave these lying around, gathering dust and causing trip hazards for months before we finally crack and drive them to the dump to put them in the appropriate section. Whether they become landfill or are actually recycled, I have no idea!
Friends and relatives: Having young children who grow out of clothes and toys fast, we have a lot of things that are in good condition that can still be of use. I am reasonably efficient at sorting this out and passing it on to people we know. I tend to divide it up so that no one is lumbered with too many things to sort out. I ask recipients just to keep passing the items on that they no longer want.
Selling: for some things that we are finished with that still have value we have advertised them on the internet.
Freecycle: We have had some big items including a garden shed and baby equipment that are in reasonable condition that we want to pass on but that haven’t been valuable enough to sell. Via freecycle people contact us and we arranged for them to come to our house to pick up the goods.
Charity Shop: We use charity shops a lot to get rid of smaller items that others can still use such as books, toys, household ‘debris’ such as old vases, photo frames, cushions etc.
Rag Bag: We use the Rag Bag Scheme to get rid of old clothes that are in too poor a condition to pass on.
Shoe Biz: Shoes the children have grown out of get donated to Shoe Biz at our nearest Clarks shoe shop. As well as being socially responsible, it goes a little way towards taking the sting out of the exceptionally high prices of kids shoes in the first place…
Creative waste: One of my children loves drawing and produces several pieces of artwork sometimes on a daily basis. Favourites are kept (or photographed) but the majority of these are sneaked off at night and turned into scrap paper for shopping lists etc. We also give a lot of ‘creative materials’ (toilet rolls, bits of wrapping paper, egg boxes) to nursery.
Wastebin: Our rubbish is collected at the kerbside every week – on average we probably put out about 2 or 3 black bags each week.
I know there are areas we can do a lot better in. I would like to reduce the number of bin bags we put out each week. The most glaring area that I think we can improve on is by setting up a way of composting at home. I hope to do a post dedicated to that soon. In the meantime if you have any other ideas on how I can reduce my waste, please let me know.