The global pandemic has seen a rise in a lot of good, including community spirit, connection to one another, and nature regenerating. However, a huge rise in disposable items and a return to bad consumer habits could see the negative outweigh the benefits for our planet. It’s going to take 400 years for all the billions of face masks and plastic gloves to biodegrade.
The good news is there are some things we can do about all this extra waste. We can stop these items from clogging sidewalk drains, washing into waterways and straining landfills. Here’s how:
- Can it be recycled for free?
Most people don’t realise that technically, everything is recyclable. It comes down to basic economics whether processing facilities will accept certain waste streams in order to make a profit. The more complex an item is to sort and separate, the more expensive it will be to recycle, and no business wants to operate at a loss. Thankfully, many brands are taking ownership of the problem by offering their consumers simple ways to recycle their products and packaging for free. Dishwashing brand Fairy, and air freshener brand Ambi Pur, for example, allow customers to collect and ship all brands of empty dish and air care packaging to TerraCycle, to be remoulded into new products. Just in time for the surge in people purchasing extra cleaning supplies, spray bottles and trigger heads are now accepted in the program too. You’ll even receive a small donation for every item you send in the mail toward the school or charity of your choice.
- Can it be recycled at all?
In addition to providing free recycling services, TerraCycle also offer their Zero Waste Box solution for practically everything. Zero Waste Boxes offer an eco-friendly solution to dispose of more than 100 products such as gloves, disposable garments, hairnets, face masks and earplugs. Got a whole bunch of used personal protective equipment lying around that you don’t know what do with? You could purchase a Safety Equipment and Protective Gear Zero Waste Box and ship it all off to TerraCycle who will again, remould them into new products. Plus, there will be special offers around World Environment Day on June 5. If you don’t have enough face masks and gloves to fill an entire box, there’s also the option of an All-In-One Box which you can use to recycle almost every kind of waste stream you can think of.
- Can it be donated?
If you’ve been busy decluttering your wardrobe and are considering donating your unwanted clothes to a charity, you might want to think again. While every donation is appreciated, charity shops across the country have been inundated with unwanted goods piled high on their closed doorstops. Charities such as Vinnies and Salvos stores are urging people to stop dumping items outside their closed shopfronts. There’s no need to send old clothing to landfill either, when there are recycling programs for unwanted clothing and textiles at every H&M store in the country. So hold on to the clothes you no longer want, donate the ones worth selling, and recycle the rest through the H&M Garment Collecting program, once stores are back open for business.
- Can it be returned to the Earth?
Have all these home cooked meals got you thinking about food waste too? You’re not alone. Turns out, there’s never been a better time to start reducing your food waste at home by joining the Compost Revolution. Purchasable online, you can start collecting all your food scraps in an indoor composter or even an entry-level worm farm for those brave enough.
While plastics such as gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment are crucial during this time, it’s important that we learn how to better manage the waste we produce. It’s also a good time to start getting stuck into good recycling habits while we have a bit more down time to consider the planet before convenience.