Dear Recycling Bins: Our Recycling Advice Column
Dear recycling bins,
Since I’m spending more time at home these days, I’m finding that my recycling and waste bins are overflowing well before my collection date. The council reduced our collections to fortnightly a few years ago, and this, coupled with the fact that I and my partner are shopping online more is causing a big problem.
My question is what can we do about our bulging bins?!
Thank you for your question. According to packaging firm DS Smith, you definitely aren’t alone in having this problem. The company recently carried out a survey of 2000 adults and a third of them said that they are producing more recycling simply through being at home more. 48% of those surveyed said that extra packaging from online deliveries was responsible for the increase. Other reasons given for increased recycling include buying more items like hand soap and toilet rolls. Worryingly, half of the survey participants said that they had completely run out of space in their recycling bins and more than one in 12 people admitted to putting recyclables in their waste bin.
Do you identify with this?
Are you embarrassed about how much waste you produce at home?
Are you worried about the impact of waste on the environment?
A good way to reduce your waste and prevent your bins from overflowing is to take an honest look at what you’re throwing away.
If you don’t know what you’re throwing away, it will be tough to work out where you can improve.
This is why we would suggest doing a waste audit.
Grab a notepad and look through your waste bin and your recycling bin, and make a note of things you seem to throw away a lot. Make a tally chart and look at what you throw away the most.
If there’s a lot of food waste in your general waste bin, why not look into how you can cut down on your food waste at home?
If there’s a lot of used kitchen roll, why not switch to a reusable product?
What about your recycling bin? What is there a lot of and what shouldn’t be in there? Here, a good place to start is making some small changes. Buy items with less packaging at the supermarket. Avoid buying plastic bottles and coffee in disposable cups. Instead, make reusable products your friend.
Is part of the problem that you don’t really know what you can and can’t recycle? Take some time to get clued up on the rules in your area.
Keep an eye on your recycling and waste from week to week and month to month, and see if anything changes after you make a few positive swaps.
If you intend to carry on with your online shopping habit, you can try asking the company you’re buying from to ship the goods in less packaging or recyclable packaging. For example, Amazon can ship certain goods in their original packaging which does away with the need to add extra Amazon packaging. You’ll be able to select the ‘ship in original packaging’ option at checkout if your goods are eligible. You can also contact Amazon customer service directly and voice your concerns about any excess packaging. Obviously, some goods do need to be shipped in a certain amount of packaging, but it’s worth seeing what they can do.
This is not a problem that is going to be easy to solve, it requires changes and improvements in recycling infrastructure, packaging design, recycling education, and product labelling. That being said, it’s still worth doing your bit. Give your waste audit a go and see what you learn!