I’m slightly embarrassed to write this post. Because… I am guilty. You see I haven’t been doing my bit when it comes to recycling. I (or let me put the blame on us – makes me feel slightly less guilty) have either not done recycling at all or we did it half-heartedly. Really embarrassing. My sister, on the other hand, is the ultimate recycle champion. Her kids will also tell you that she recycles e.v.e.r.y.thing.
So, when I was asked by The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC) to be part of their blogger recycling challenge for the month of September (which is Glass Recycling Month), I was instantly keen. I had known for a long time that I should get my recycling act together. I suppose part of the problem was that I battled to get my head around it.
That is why I have compiled the following 10 STEPS TO GLASS RECYCLING SUCCESS for me & for you:
1. UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF GLASS. Only 41% of South Africa’s glass bottles & jars are being recycled. That is already a good number, right? Yes. Maybe. But not if you start to consider what might be happening to the other 59%. Our responsibility is to ensure that valuable glass does not go to landfill. Consider the following:
- Glass is the ideal packaging for recycling as it is 100% pure & infinitely recyclable. With the result that less energy & natural resources are used. Every ton of glass recycled saves 1.2 tons of raw materials. Wow. Making new glass from recycled glass also uses far less energy than using raw materials.
- Glass is inert. That means your food never tastes like glass. If you like good food, then choose glass.
- Glass containers are impermeable, air-tight & transparent. Glass has an almost zero rate of chemical interactions, ensuring that the products inside a glass bottle keep their natural aroma & taste.
- It is classy & elegant – you don’t need to use a drinking glass when you have your drink in an attractive glass bottle. Agreed?
2. REMIND YOURSELF THAT STARTING SMALL IS OK. Every bit helps. As I said, I felt a bit stupid about my (lack of) effort in the recycling department, but as I was walking around the house & thinking about glass recycling, I started to notice areas where I have actually recycled glass (call it upcycle or repurpose if you will). Some examples:
- Two glass containers that I sprayed white & are now the official stationery holders on my desk.
- Old glass jars are used for storing snacks (like dried fruits & nuts) in.
- I have some glass jars in my personal cupboard; one for my cotton wool & one for my make-up brushes.
- Above our dining room table is a light that we made out of mason jars & washi tape.
- I have my Earl Grey tea in an upcycled coffee bottle, marked with chalk on a black board label.
3. GET YOUR GLASS RECYCLING ESSENTIALS IN PLACE. This is really super easy. Simply collect all of your waste glass for recycling. Then rinse any food or drink left overs out. Remove the lids & caps. Maybe you can kick start the process after having a braai or party with lots of glass bottles? Consider an additional bin or container that can be used exclusively for recyclable glass.
4. KNOW WHAT CAN BE RECYCLED. Glass containers, bottles & jars, such as those used for food & beverages. This includes:
- Glass wine & beer bottles
- Glass cool drink bottles
- Glass tomato sauce & mayonnaise bottles
- Glass coffee, jam or pickle jars
5. KNOW WHAT CAN’T BE RECYCLED.
- Windscreen glass
- Window pane glass
- Mirrors & light bulbs
- Drinking glasses & tumblers
- Laboratory glass
6. KNOW WHERE TO TAKE GLASS FOR RECYCLING. Your neighbourhood or complex might already have a system in place, so find out if you haven’t done so already. There are recycling points at many service stations, shopping centres, municipal refuse drop-off sites & buy-back centres. Find a spot to recycle here.
You can also find out where a glass bank is located in your area. Simply SMS* Glass & the name of your suburb to 32310. For example: Glass Fourways *One SMS costs R1, free & bundled SMSs do not apply. Tried it & it’s instant. I was surprised to learn that we have one in the area, however I think there is certainly room for more.
7. REMEMBER THAT UPCYCLING IS ALSO A FORM OF RECYCLING. Keep this in mind when thinking of craft projects, sorting out your grocery cupboard or as ideas for gifts. For instance, in the past I have collected glass jars & filled these with a colourful mix of sweets for each child to enjoy over Christmas. Reused glass can be used in so many ways. Just type in ‘recycle glass’ when you’re next on Pinterest & literally hundreds of ideas pop up.
8. GET THE FAMILY INVOLVED. Do this by making things easier for yourself. Ideas:
- Get the kids involved. Work together to make or decorate containers for recycling. My sisters’ kids painted three large bins in colourful colours & marked each with the type of recycling.
- Plan your trips to the glass banks to fit into your daily schedule – it will become part of your plan rather than a chore! If taking your waste glass can’t be accommodated into your daily routine, contract the services of a waste removal company to collect it from your home each week.
- South Africa has one of the most sophisticated returnable systems in the world, so take returnable bottles back to the store where you bought them. This way you can prevent even more glass from going to landfill. These will be sent back to the manufacturers to be hygienically cleaned and sterilised. Returnable bottles are then refilled and reused. Returnable bottles include large beer bottles such as quarts, glass cola bottles, many spirit & liquor bottles.
9. GET YOUR COMMUNITY INVOLVED. Encourage your school or local community (neighbours, friends, church) to participate or start their own recycling programme. Competitions are a great way to get schools & kids involved. Inform your local school or businesses that they too can apply for a glass bank from TGRC.
10. BE MORE CONCIOUS OF YOUR DECISIONS. Just being mindful of food & beverage packaging over the past couple of weeks has already helped me to make better decisions about packaging that can be recycled.
Cheers to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
This post was sponsored by The Glass Recycling Company.