So, this is is it! The last day of 2009 and indeed the last few hours of a time period that will go down in history as "The Noughties". Yep, it's New Year's Eve, and amongst the celebrations it's the traditional time to reflect on the past as well as take a moment to welcome in the new year that lies ahead.
And as we get prepared to celebrate the dawn of a new decade, I would love you indulge me for a moment as I take a brief trip down memory lane on a topic that's very close to my heart and allow me to elaborate on why I am so passionate about the role that recycling has to our future.
I can't believe how things have changed during the last decade. Ten years ago, I was a regular London commuter, working as a full-time research manager for a digital rights management consultancy at the cutting edge of technology, but with a laptop that sounded like a jet engine. Today, I'm happily ensconced in Suffolk as a housewife and mother of two lovely children, with a more modern laptop that....well...still sounds like a jet engine.
Back then recycling hardly ever crossed my mind. We were living in Hertfordshire and had a small bin where we could put jars, tins and paper. Everything else went into a wheelie bin, which was always full by the end of the week.
However, these days there is hardly a day that goes by when I am not thinking or talking about some recycling issue or other.
It might feel like a cumbersome domestic chore to many, but when you consider its role in our future, it is far more interesting a topic than you might first imagine. It's about maximising resources, managing supply and demand and is reliant on world economics, political will, logistics, legal issues and environmental debate. It's an area that also focuses on behavioural change, with psychology being a key feature in all public communications, leading to some very inspirational marketing campaigns that could knock the socks off PR campaigns of many top consumer brands. And it's something that anybody, no matter what their background can talk about and get involved in.
So you see, it's not just a chore, it has so many interesting facets guests at a dinner party could find themselves debating all night!
But being a girl with a fascination for technology, it's the sexy innovative side of recycling that really catches my attention as well as the environmental benefits.
It's like a new industrial revolution and I just love all the gossip about developments that I would never have thought possible.
For instance, take the news about a company in the US that is using infrared technology and carefully controlled temperatures settings, to convert hard plastic into a product that can be sold as fuel. This surely has to be a fascinating development that would have made the headlines of Tomorrow's World if it were still broadcast today. If you're interested, you can find more details of the story at the New York Times.
Then there was the day I discovered a dishwasher-proof chopping board that was made from 100% recycled cardboard. Hard to believe I know, but check out the Ecocentric site for evidence that I'm not going completely bonkers.
With such a thirst for inspirational developments, you can imagine the excitement whenever I stumble across any technological gadget that's made from something so ordinary as the humble plastic bottle, like the Motorola W223 Renew that was launched earlier this year.
As well as preserving depleting stocks of virgin resources, these innovations are gradually increasing demand for post-consumer waste, otherwise known as recycling to you and me. Most importantly, these developments are helping to create a closed loop for materials that would otherwise be lost in landfill, polluting the landscape and adding to our financial burden with increased landfill taxes.
So as we raise a glass to the last twelve months and the end of the Noughties, I'd also like to celebrate all the developments that have taken place in the world of recycling and recognise the achievements of all those who have made a difference to the exciting landscape that lies ahead.
And I'd love you to join me in making a new year's resolution to increase your participation somehow, because without your continued involvement these innovations could all go belly-up, not to mention the bit about the environment!
I know most people who visit this site are already doing what they can within the scope of local facilities, but it's always worth another mention with new year's resolutions on the horizon, especially if there are new passers-by.
So here are a few reminders about what you can do when tonight's celebrations are over...
1. It is really worth taking five minutes to see if there have been any new developments. Visit www.recyclenow.com, to check the latest information on what can be recycled in your area. Councils across the country are adding extra services all the time, especially with the gradual roll-out of mixed plastics recycling, which can include anything from clean plastic meat-trays to yoghurt pots. Even if you can't recycle such things in your household bins, it's always worth checking if such facilities are available at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRCs). If you live in Suffolk, all the local information you'll need can be found at www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk.
2. Remember that glass jars can also be deposited at your nearest bottle bank along with any empty glass bottles that you might have left over from your party. Jars are often the forgotten cousin and in comparison, many end up in landfill instead.
3. Has your council introduced a carton recycling scheme yet? If you're not sure, you can check on the Tetra Pak website. See www.tetrapakrecycling.co.uk/locator.asp for specific location details and if are able to recycle your drinks cartons, remember to to squash them first, so that the trucks can carry more per load. And remember, the same packaging is also used for other liquid products such as ready-made soups, so put those in too.
4. If your supermarket has a plastic bag collection, check whether you can include plastic film packaging such as pasta bags and rice bags. As one supermarket famously says..."every little helps". Residents across Suffolk can already take these materials to the HWRCs
5. If you happen to have any leftovers from your party, don't throw them in the bin. Pop over to www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for some fabulous tips on how to use them up and remember to compost what you can either through your council's recycling services or in your own back garden. If you fancy having a go at home- composting, then check out www.recyclenow.com/compost/ for more information.
Of course, there's lots you can do to help reduce waste in the first place by looking for opportunities to avoid unrecyclable packaging whenever it's feasible. And if you're hosting a party, try to avoid disposable tableware, choosing reusable items if possible. Borrow extra plates if you can. And if it all seems like too much hard work, then choose compostable products instead, such as those available at Little Cherry.
Whichever way you're celebrating the new year, I hope you have a fabulous time. And with the festive season almost over, I'll be back tomorrow with lots more news on what you can do when you take down your cards and decorations as a final farewell to Christmas 2009.
In the meantime, I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year and thank you for your unwavering support during the last twelve months. I hope that 2010 is kind to you.
Now where is that song that we recycle every year... you know the one. It's the ditty where we join hands and shake our arms about in a very peculiar fashion. No it's not the hokey cokey - please behave yourselves!
Ah there it is...you'll be pleased I've found it. Okay, from the top everyone, including you in the corner....as loud as you can...one, two, three...
and never brought to mind...
Should old landfill be forgot
and those days of rubbish times!
For old landfill sites are dear
and can lead to extra fines
Recycle all our junk instead
It doesn't take much time.
See you next year....hic!
Oh I nearly forgot, here's my last ever reminder about the Green Web Awards. If you haven't voted yet and would like to make an old bird happy in 2010, please help boost my rating in the Social Media Hero Category. A couple of clicks and a few seconds of your time is all you'll need: http://www.nigelsecostore.com/green-web-awards/vote/
And if you're around at 11:10 this morning, listen into BBC Radio Suffolk's Rob Dunger show, where I will be continuing my series of top recycling tips for this festive period. You don't even have to live in Suffolk to tune in. You can catch it all online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/suffolk/hi/tv_and_radio/
***UPDATE*** If you were listening in to Radio Suffolk today and heard me chatting about the Strauss family who haven't put their bin for a whole year, you can find the story online at The Times Online. And for regular visitors, the article refers to our well-known blogging friend Mrs Green. For more inspiration on how they've done it and to show your support, pop over to their website www.myzerowaste.com and spare some time to say hello.