We live in a throwaway society, but it has to be said that things are getting gradually better. We’re recycling more than ever, and we’re becoming more and more conscious about the way we treat our environment.
But more still needs to be done. There’s always something we can do to help the environment — whether it’s reducing waste, increasing recycling or changing the way we use energy.
You might be happy that you’re recycling more than ever, but there’s probably even more you can do. Here are eight everyday household items you (probably) didn’t know you can recycle.
1. VHS cassettes
The only VHS cassettes you can buy now are second-hand ones from car boot sales and local markets. Most of us are gradually replacing film libraries with DVDs, BluRays and digital downloads — which means more and more cassettes are turning up at landfill sites. But there are sites on the Internet that will take your old VHS tapes and shred them. The plastics are then used for a range of new products, including packaging.
Batteries should never be thrown into general waste, as they contain toxic substances. While you probably won’t be able to get your old batteries picked up by your local authority, there should be a container at your local refuse centre for them.
3. Mobile phones
There are several potentially harmful substances in mobile phones, so it’s always vital that you recycle yours in the correct way. There are several companies online that pay for old handsets, or the local council’s refuse centre will probably take them off your hands. Never throw a mobile phone into the general rubbish.
Millions of old inhalers are thrown in the rubbish every year, yet they can all be recycled relatively easily. GlaxoSmithKline, for example, operates a Complete the Cycle campaign, which involves drop-off points at local pharmacies. Old inhalers are dismantled and separated into recyclable metals and plastics.
5. Panty hose
Believe it or not, local water companies often have to pull out panty hose and tights from drains. This is crazy when you consider than these everyday items of clothing can be used to make everything from rope to toys. There are recycling programmes for tights on the Internet, and they ensure that discarded panty hose are turned into a range of essential products.
Take a look at any landfill site or refuse centre, and you’re bound to see several mattresses. Make sure you drop off your old mattress at the correct point at your local council’s refuse centre — don’t drop it off in the the general waste section. Mattresses can be broken down into wood, fibres, foam and metal, all of which can be recycled or reused.
In fact, Apple has a global recycling programme that includes all of its devices. Send your old phone or tablet to Apple, or drop it off at one of the participating stores, and you’ll receive a gift voucher or discount in return.
Did you know you can help people with sight problems around the world by donating your old spectacles? Glasses are sent to some of the poorest regions in the world to help people who simply can’t afford eyecare. Charities such as OneSight arrange collection of spectacles before shipping them around the world.
The next time you’re tidying or decluttering, assume that everything has the potential to be reused, recycled or upcycled. If we all do this, we can protect our environment from unnecessary suffering.