On Global Recycling Day, let's rethink how we recycle

Recycling is one of the best habits you can adopt when switching towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

Let’s rethink how we recycle. Good intentions are a good start but we need to make sure we are doing the right thing.

The goal: to reduce toxic wastes, environmental pollution and protect our Mother Earth which will result also on benefits for our health.

In Switzerland, we take recycling very seriously and almost in every household, there are dedicated bins for:

  • Plastic (PET)
  • Paper and cartons
  • Glass
  • Aluminium
  • Compost

And also on each neighbourhood, there are collection points to recycle clothes and shoes.

A bit of history: When recycling practices have started?

According to nerc.org, Japan was the first country that started recycling back in 9th century. “Ancient Japanese people began recycling paper almost as soon as they learned how to produce it and recycling became part of paper production and consumption”.

Then, in 1690 the recycling concept arrived to the US.

Both World War I and II forced people to become more innovative in resource management when all the quantities of materials were running low, so the recycling became a common approach. If you are interested in the detailed timeline you can check the Hintons website :)

Recycling Tips

At GREENA we are constantly learning and we would love to share these top 8 recycling tips:

  1. Do not put recyclables in plastic bags. Buy a couple of canvas bags or get some reusable containers to store your recyclables until you deposit them in the right bin.
  2. Make sure your recyclables are clean, empty and dry. It will take you only seconds to clean it and you will ensure that it won’t end up in the landfill
  3. Take cloth bags to the grocery store- fill them up with your nuts, quinoa, oatmeal or any other food you like, offered in bulk
  4. Be careful with combined materials. Ex. plastic-coated coffee cups is made of materials that can’t be separated and it will end up in the trash
  5. Avoid wish-cycling
  6. Knowledge is power. Not sure what you can recycle? Check your local recycling website to teach yourself what you need to know.
  7. Garden waste belongs in your green waste bin. Do not put lawn clippings or branches in the recycling bin.
  8. Compost food scraps. If you have a garden, use them as a fertiliser.

Recycling Facts

Now, let us share with you some of the interesting facts about Recycling.

Starting with plastics. Do plastics decompose easily?

Given the resistant nature of chemicals like PET, this gradual break down process can take years to complete. Plastic bottles, for instance, are estimated to require approximately 450 years to decompose in a landfill.

This is why we encourage you to try to live a plastic-free life or to re-use and recycle your plastic products. Check some ideas here.

Now let’s talk about paper and cartons. Should we recycle paper & cartons with food scraps or stains?

Knowing the Dos and Don’ts of recycling is key: Anything contaminated should go into the regular waste bin. And not to the recycling one.

Once soiled, the paper cannot be recycled because the paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process. Food is a major source of contamination in paper recycling.

Example. Pizza boxes can’t be recycled because the cardboard becomes soiled with grease, cheese, and other foods once the pizza has been placed in the box.

Tip: check your local recycling guidelines. Putting the wrong objects inside the recycling bin can do more harm than good. Make sure you have all the information needed.

Let’s keep on recycling! Let’s make sure we do it on the right way ;)