Guide to recycling

Caroline Cassidy

In the UK households produced over 30 million tonnes of waste in 2003/04. Only 17 per cent of this waste was recycled. This figure is low compared to other European countries who manage to recycle 50 per cent or more of their waste. This means there is still a great deal we can do when it comes to dealing with our waste. Here are some tips on how improve your recycling.

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Recycling helps the environment by saving materials and energy. This is only part of the solution though, reducing food and household waste in the first place is a great way to make a difference when it comes to your impact on the planet.

Shopping can create vast amounts of household waste through packaging. When it comes to the items on your shopping list make sure you choose items with less packaging and remember to take your own shopping bags. Think about products that you can re-use or buy refills for.

Making a space next to your bin for a recycling container will help encourage recycling as it's as simple to recycle as it is to throw it away. Speak with your local council, many local authorities now offer a kerbside recycling scheme, find out how it works and take advantage of it. Look out for your nearest recycling centre too.

Take your bottles, cans or other types of recycling to a recycling bank. You can build this into your routine. You may find that your nearest supermarket also has a recycling facility. There are vast arrays of objects that can be recycled or put to good use including books clothes and shoes.

Don't get rid of your glass jars, whether it's jam, marmalade or baby food jars with just a rinse you can re-use these items for storage. Try filling the jars with some homemade chutney or piccalilli.

The bathroom represents rich pickings when it comes to recycling. Shampoo, bubble bath and shower gel bottles often get forgotten, so start rinsing out those empty bottles when you're in the shower. You can soon start accumulating empty bottles and cardboard toilet rolls so keep a special bin for your bathroom recycling.

Some facts:

One recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for three hours.

One recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.

One recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for three hours.

70 per cent less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials