Last year, I wrote about our efforts to recycle glass and why it is so important for both our future and ourselves. Over the last few years, however, I have become aware of something, something that I think is just as vital to the process and project as a whole. Our mindsets. Our mindsets when it comes to recycling and our mindsets when it comes to using recyclable materials.
I will be the first one to say it, I do not live in a recycling conscious country, or at least I was not born into one. It is changing but there are years and years of habits to be changed and more so to be acknowledged. How are we supposed to educated and learn and move forward if we are not willing to admit that what we have been doing is wrong and that it is NOT someone else responsibility?
The current recycling rate is 41.5% in Southern Africa with 86% of glass being diverted from landfills.
So what are the first steps we can take to make smarter, wiser choices that have positive & long-term effects on this planet and our world? These are a few ideas from the team at The Glass Recycling Project.
There is a way to recycle.
TIPS ON HOW TO SEPARATE AT SOURCE:
Separating your household waste has a significant and positive impact on the environment. It is as easy as using a plastic bin for non-recyclable household waste, and a durable plastic bag for plastics, glass, cans, paper etc.
Make recycling as convenient as possible by using existing containers, rather than buying or building new ones to separate your recyclables.
Encourage those around you to do the same – wouldn’t they feel guilty throwing away glass bottles and jars that can be so easily separated and then recycled?
Glass containers, bottles, and jars, such as those used for food and beverages can be recycled.
The glass that cannot be recycled with packaging glass: Windscreen glass, window pane glass, mirrors, light bulbs, drinking glasses and tumblers, Pyrex or laboratory glass. These items cannot be recycled with your regular glass recycling as this glass has different properties to packaging glass.
Find a glass bank on The Glass Recycling Company website: www.tgrc.co.za
Support a families income.
I know, you’re thinking what on earth does that mean? Did you know that there are estimated to be 50 000 odd individuals who are independently collecting recyclable materials and making an income from the process?
This is good news for a country like my own, South Africa. Our current unemployment rate is scary, to say the least, and this is a very real and valid way to not only feed one’s family but also to encourage those in our family to recycle and be aware of the dirt, trash, rubbish and environment around our homes and businesses.
We have the systems.
We have one of the best glass recycling systems in the world. Seriously, and we have done so for years. Glass recycling in regards to our drinks bottles has been efficient since I was a child. I recall my mom collecting all the empty bottles of coca cola and ginger beer, back when you got the 1.5l glass bottles and handing them in at the store. A small return deposit was given back and so the system kept flowing.
We never threw out a glass bottle, it just wasn’t something you did. I often feel the invention of the 2l and the 2.5l had a far greater and negative environmental impact than brands realized when they introduced them.
Let’s get the big guys involved.
Okay, so one of the biggest users of glass materials is the restaurant industry. The last time I wrote about glass recycling, I encouraged our local restaurants in Durban, to share their recycling efforts with me. Having a previous career within the hospitality industry both locally and internationally, I know and I have seen the number of materials that move through an eatery or a hotel. I am happy to say that many of the establishments I have worked in, do have an are recycling conscious.
The Glass Recycling Company has taken notice of establishments, that have chosen to make, recycling an integral part of their business and business ethics. In fact, they have and are rewarding these companies for stepping up and taking responsibility for their waste and their recyclables.
Did you know that:
TGRC is South Africa’s official organization for promoting glass recycling with its core objective of keeping glass alive by promoting the practice of recycling this environmentally friendly packaging.
Their strategic objectives also focus on the promotion of the reuse of returnable bottles; entrepreneur development and job creation; capacity building and development of synergies with all levels of Government as well as NGOs.
In twelve short years, TGRC has increased the glass recycling rate from 18% to 41.5%.
That is quite something. Now imagine if we all took responsibility for our homes and our businesses.
During the month of May, I will be encouraging my readers, my followers, my friends and my families to be conscious of their recycling efforts and choices. Say no to the straw or any single-use product. Buy glass when you can, even if it is a little more costly, honestly the long-term cost is more than we can all afford to pay.
And if you see a business or an individual that could be making wiser choices, speak to them, ask if you can help them recycle or buy better. This is everyone’s responsibility, let’s do our bit.
And when you do want to recycle, be sure to find a list of recycling points here.
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And As Always