Planet Ark founded National Recycling Week over two decades ago, in November 1996. Recycling is no new kid on the block, it's been a big deal for a long time. And this year, pulling recycling into national focus still brings benefits. The website that acts as the meeting place for this week now gets over 3.7 million page views each year.
At the online home for this week, you can look into your council's recycling service and suss out what you can recycle, and more pointedly – what you can't. You'd be surprised at what you can reprocess; think things like electronic waste, batteries, your fridge that's on the blink and your old armchair. Also, find out where you can drop-off your goods to get recycled.
This campaign has done its dues and earned its cred. It's an instrumental ally for its cause and continues to educate people and spur changes in behaviour. Big or small, these shifts make a difference. And it's not just domestic emphasis, this week is also about industrial and community recycling resourcefulness. There's an opportunity for all walks of society to get the tools they need to lower waste and initiate change in all areas of life.
Let's take a stroll around the house. In every room, there are loads of ways to recycle. The bathroom – save your hairspray can and your medicine containers. The bedroom – keep your old clothes and textiles, your reading light bulbs and your lumpy old mattresses. The Kitchen – recycle your milk and beverage cartons, coffee capsules and cups, aluminium cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, containers and bags. And don't forget your food scraps. The office – save your swivel chair, printer cartridges, your computer and all its rechargers and cords, paper, cardboard and the phone book you've been using for a laptop stand! The Laundry – your washing machine and dryer can both be salvaged; actually, all white goods can. And outside – recycle your garden cuttings. The garage – reclaim your batteries, tyres, chemicals and the drums they're kept in, paint, gas cylinders and even your car. Don't forget your mobile phone, the spectacles on your face, your TV and your old X-rays.
Recycling at home is more significant than kicking your waste to the kerbside. Look at the bigger picture: it contributes to protecting the environment and reduces dependence on mining, quarrying and logging. Extracting, refining and processing these raw materials all pollute water and air. But the benefits don't stop there. Recycling also conserves energy and brings down greenhouse gases. Who knew not throwing things out could fight climate change, twofold.
You know what to do – recycle – and tell your friends and neighbours too. Spread the word at work, show your kids' school how it's done and take your newfound knowledge as far and wide as you can. National Recycling Week may be only seven days, but it's a great time to stop and take stock of how much you contribute to waste.