Recycling in the Home
Homeowners are recycling more and more as they become more aware of the depletion of the earth’s natural resources and the effects of global warming. Cash-strapped homeowners are increasingly looking at ways of conserving the resources they use in the home. This includes reducing the amount of energy they consume within the home or flat, as well as reusing materials consumed within the home. This article explores the reasons behind recycling, what can be recycled and how and where homeowners can recycle.
Homeowner Waste homeowners in the United Kingdom are increasingly creating more and more rubbish. UK homeowners only manage to recycle around 17% of the waste they produce, compared to other EU consumers, (such as Germany) where this figure is 50%. This terrible performance is partly due to poor education and culture, as well as changing demographics. The overall population of the UK is rising due to economic migration, increase in birth rates, increased divorce rate and more people are choosing to live alone. The work life balance is changing as more people work longer hours and eat more fast food, packaged processed food, take away’s and convenience microwave food. Simply put, people are cooking less and relying on low-cost convenience delivered from large supermarkets.
This convenience culture is creating more and more rubbish, which must be collected and where appropriate, recycled efficiently. The consumer society in which we live, is generating millions of tonnes of plastic and other forms of harmful waste every year – much of it is very difficult to recycle or is non biodegradable. On average, 16% of the money consumers spend on a product pays for the packaging alone, which ultimately ends up as rubbish. Many consumers complain that most items sold in shops wrapped in plastic and cardboard are is difficult to open, and are difficult to easy recycle. Retailers and supermarkets argue that consumers demand low-cost, safe and healthy convenience, in their products they consume.
Consumer Motivations– shockingly, up to 60% of dustbin rubbish could be recycled, but is not. Householders may not be aware of what items can be reused to create energy, or may not have practical means to dispose of the waste in the first place. For instance, there are millions of flat owners or rental tenants, who live in high-rise blocks of flats or converted buildings. Many of these people regularly find it difficult or inconvenient to access specially provided recycling dustbins, due to the limitations of living in a high rise environment. There also appears to be a shocking lack of willingness and education and awareness by consumers, as to how to practically help. Most surveys showed that 90% of consumers would prefer to recycle, if it was more convenient and easier to do. The government and local councils recognise the problem, and are encouraging consumers to change their behaviour and recycle more. Targets have been set for the proportion of household waste that goes to landfill sites, as well as the proportion of waste that is recycled. To implement suitable policies to meet these targets, the environment agency is tasked with protecting the environment in England and Wales.
Impact of Household Waste– the impact of household waste on the environment is profound. The harmful greenhouse gases that create global warming, are slowly released from landfill rubbish sites across the UK. Householders do not see these landfills, and so the potential damage a landfill creates, is not in the forefront of their minds, when disposing of packaged materials and food items. These landfills also create unwanted local pollution for residents living in the nearby area. This pollution may include harmful chemicals released during the incineration process, or accidental pollution of groundwater tables. The build up of toxic methane gasses over many years has also proven to be a dangerous hazard for homeowners, who have unwittingly bought new homes on reclaimed land fill sites.
Landfill sites across the United Kingdom are filling up so fast that, at current rates, the amount of space left will dwindle towards 2015. Alternative landfill sites are being sought, as an alternative method of recycling this household waste. This includes national and local policies to encourage or force people, to reduce the amount of waste they produce in the home in the first place. Consumers are taking an active role, by insisting that manufactures use more environmentally friendly recycled packaging in the production process. Companies with a poor reputation for environmental protection, also being shunned by consumers.
The main culprits and targets for household waste management are, aluminium cans, glass bottles, paper and plastic packaging. Homeowners can reduce the impact of these household based raw materials on the environment, by recycling. For instance, aluminium cans that have been recycled and ready to use in just 6 weeks. Recycled paper produces 73% less air pollution than if it was made from raw materials. despite the fact that plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose, most families simply throw it away, (when it could just as easily be thrown away in a recycling bin for plastics).
Scientists are generally agreed that the impact of global warming will have profound impact on everybody’s lives in future. This includes, flooding, severe weather, economic migration due to rising sea levels, failure of agriculture as the Earth’s average temperature rises. The continued deforestation of the South American rainforests and other major areas, is reducing the amount of carbon dioxide naturally absorbed by trees. This in turn is lessening the Earth’s natural defences against the harmful effects of global warming. The deforestation process by logging companies is driven by demand for furniture, paper and other tree based products.. In addition, land is cleared for agriculture and gradual urbanisation. Therefore, the greater the demand for non recycled paper in the home, the more likely trees somewhere in the world will be chopped down, to fill that demand.
Energy Efficiency in the Home – consumers who use alternative forms of energy, such as solar power, wind turbines and energy-efficient boilers, can save money as well as limit the impact on the environment. Simple actions, such as switching their utility supplier to one which uses renewable’s, or turning off the lights in empty rooms, can save huge amounts of energy. Recycling is a key part of energy efficiency, because the amount of energy required in the manufacturing of products and goods, consumed within the home. For instance, 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 twenty five minutes. By not disposing of goods, (and recycling them instead), industry saves valuable energy, reducing the impact on the environment.
Recycling in the Home– in the home itself, make sure you have the relevant recycling bins available, in order to to separate your paper, plastic, cans and glass bottles. Despite the fact that many councils offer slightly different solutions to waste separation, by making an effort to acquire the relevant bins, consumers can simply get into the habit of throwing the relevant items into the relevant bin, on an ongoing basis. When junk mail arrives on your doormat, make an effort to ring the organisation, to remove himself from a marketing list, to avoid future mailings. The sheer volume of junk mail and other wasted paper-based products in the home, soon mounts up to a sizeable weekly sum, which can be easily recycled.
Energy Efficiency in The Home– homeowners can begin their recycling process in the supermarket. By changing the weekly shopping list, is possible to significantly reduce the potential waste, following consumption of products purchased. At the supermarket, try and reduce the amount unnecessary individual purchases, to avoid package waste. Only choose products that can be recycled or that that have already been packaged up using recycled materials. You can tell if a product is eco-friendly by looking at the label on the packaging. Avoid buying fizzy drinks in aluminium cans, and choose the glass bottled alternative instead. Avoid products that are wrapped in plastic, particularly fresh vegetables, which can be easily placed into recycled paper bags. Many supermarkets also offer a recycled reusable bag to carry your groceries home in. Lastly, avoid buying hazardous cleaning materials where possible which cannot always be recycled, and remain highly toxic for decades. Try to find safer alternatives to household cleaners and buy non-toxic products whenever possible.
The use of new technologies in the home is controversial in the United Kingdom. Critics argue that they are prohibitively expensive for consumers to see a return on investment – particularly in light of the credit crunch where householders are cutting back. However, the cost of these new technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal heating, an energy-efficient boilers, is coming down all the time. Alongside this, the politics, production and economics oil and gas, means that homeowners are seeing their household utility bills rise and fall unpredictably. As the planet the runs out of carbon based fossil fuels in future, the price of petrol, gas and oil will fall. As the balance between the rising cost of polluting energy goes up, and technologies based on renewable’s falls, consumers will begin to adopt these new technologies, as their primary source of heating and lighting.
Where can You Recycle?– not all waste is removed by the local council, depending upon their environmental policies. Some councils would expect you to take the waste to a local recycling centre. They may provide local larger bins for bottles, paper, cans and glass bottles. Local councils will then remove the huge bins and emptying the contents to a local recycling plant. For families, encouraging young children to take