Thursday, 10 April 2008

Recycling swapsies and other ideas

Picklesmum swaps her cartridges for cartons.

Regular reader Picklesmum left a comment this week, saying that not only is she pleased to have discovered Tetra Pak recycling facilities locally, but that she has even encouraged her mum to bring hers with her when she visits by train so that they can also be recycled.

Even better, she is going to give her mum her Brita water filter cartridges so they can be recycled too. What a great swap, (which is why I couldn't resist including the intro to the 1970s UK children's programme which I found on You Tube - ahhh memories - forgive me won't you).

This is a brilliant example of how people are making that extra commitment to recycling, and with very little effort involved. Picklesmum's mother doesn't have a car so can't drive to the local recycling facilities and Picklesmum lives in a village that doesn't have water filter cartridge collection points, but their resolve has enabled a few more items to be recycled.

Not everyone will have the motivation, income, time, space or facilities to commit to heavily reducing their levels of waste but there are many others ways that people can make a contribution, even if it's in a small way.

So here are Almost Mrs Average's Top Ten Tips
  1. Say No Thanks to plastic bags, even degradable ones.
  2. Reuse any plastic bags you acquire, for example as bin bags
  3. Swap just one packaged item on your shopping list for something that has no packaging.
  4. Encourage your community to hold a "swap-shop" for swapping clothes, toys or books. This one is great for schools and clubs. You could even hold your own party. Clothes swap parties are becoming increasingly popular. Have a look at this Time-Out article for more details.
  5. When you are out and about, rather than dump drinks bottles etc in the general rubbish bins, bring them home and put them in your recycling bin.
  6. If you know someone who isn't able to take their recyclables along to a recycling centre, offer to take them on their behalf.
  7. If you hear of good practice elsewhere, ask your council to follow suit. They may not be able to offer new facilities immediately, but by showing demand they can at least investigate.
  8. Remember, your trash might be someone else's treasure. Before resigning it to landfill, think about giving it away. There are lots of ideas on The Times Eco-Worrier blog.
  9. Also find out if there is a local scrap-store near you. They often welcome odds and ends that can be reused for art projects.
  10. Rediscover your own creativity, as you might find another use for all your old junk. For inspiration take a look at and How Can I Recyle This? You'll be amazed at the ideas.
My favourite example of recycling/reusing has to be how Bury St Edmunds blogger John Moody swapped a pink bike with girly tassles for a boy's bike, by simply converting it himself. The obvious choice would have been to sell or give away the girly bike and buy a new one for his little boy. However John showed great commitment to modifying it and achieved a fantastic result.

However, what clinches the prize for creativity is the Ice-Cream Stick Ship, which is a project spear-headed by Robert McDonald who wants to teach children that anything is possible. Made from 15 millon ice-cream sticks and completed in 2005, the replica Viking ship set sail for England from the Netherlands on Tuesday. His crew are also hoping to sail the Atlantic, following an old Viking route to North America. Now that will be impressive!

Thanks to Kate for the tip-off. More info about the making of the ship can be found at PingMag.

Hmmm, I'm not sure whether I should be encouraging you to try this at home. Remember the high-seas are dangerous and if you are inspired to make your own canoe, yacht or even cruiseliner, please enlist the services of a professional and please remember your buoyancy aid!



Mel said...


I don't mind at all being quoted - I'm happy to have pointed you in the direction of the upcycling concept! (And do try to get hold of a copy of Cradle to Cradle - there always seem to be a few second-hand ones on Amazon - if for nothing else than to have a feel of the non-paper-paper!)

I have good news on the zero-waste-at-work front - after chasing a national recycling company for well over a year now, I spotted another (more local) company's collection truck in the street: our branch manager phoned them yesterday, they're coming out to assess our rubbish tomorrow and we could have full recycling separation facilities in place by Tuesday!


Cybèle said...

There should have been 11 tips on this blog post...: join your local Freecycle group!
And my colleague from Cambridge brings in her used batteries for me to hang in the little plastic bag on my pink hook!

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Mel - that's great news. If ever you want to do a plug for your workplace and its recycling activities, please feel free to send it through as a guest article and I will be happy to to feature it.

Hi Cybèle - oopsy, you're right. I should've mentioned Freecycle, but I didn't want to duplicate info as I had included the link to the Eco Worrier blog which puts in a big mention.

That's great news about your colleague's battery recycling, what's even better is that you don't have to take them to another country anymore. ;-D

Anonymous said...

A neat idea that my mom started at the school she taught at was all the teachers and people throughout the community donating things for a Christmas Bazaar. Then the students (who mostly come from low income families) got to pick presents for their family that they would never have been able to purchase. I thought it was a great idea and I make sure to donate to them each year.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi N&J - that's a great idea. It just shows the value and importance of community spirit.

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