As I said in my introduction to recycling, everything except borrowed items within your property basically belongs to you. Correct disposal of unwanted items remains the property owner’s responsibility and plastic is no exception. Although the recycling of plastic does not reduce the carbon footprint as steel/metal, glass and paper do, the environmental impact of carelessly disposed of plastic is enormous. Regularly we read and hear tragic stories of animals and birds dying from plastic ingestion resulting from irresponsible dumping of plastics in the landfills, veld and oceans.
Many forms of plastic are used to manufacture goods and most can be recycled. The internet can be accessed for more insight into the various types of plastic, the manufacture and uses thereof. When disposing of used plastic we can either send it for recycling by placing it in our weekly refuse or consider ways of reusing the item ourselves. Durable outdoor furniture, yarn spun from used soft drink bottles-PET plastic, carpeting, traffic cones are some of the products made from recycled plastic.
If there is no self-use for plastic items, try to place all plastics in their own refuse bag. To save on space plastic bottles can be flattened. Depending on how much plastic is consumed, one refuse bag may accommodate several week’s plastic wastes. Yellow is the international colour for plastic disposal bags, skips or wheelie bins.
Plastic wrapping from meat products should preferably be rinsed and dried before adding to the plastics recycle bag. This prevents unpleasant odours developing. A good refuse practice is to clean all items for disposal where possible. Let us all consider the people who are part of the recycle chain.
Before throwing out a plastic container consider reusing it for storage or growing plants in. Should you have no interest in that line, offer it to someone who may have a need for it. It is a good opportunity for us to get to know our neighbours better. Bucket veggie garden, for example, has many positives e.g. easy to maintain, uses minimal water, can be raised for ergonomics, the small courtyard can productively be used.
Using uniform containers such as the large yoghurt tubs make excellent pot plant growers. Many herbs will do well in such containers and can be decorative. The containers can be painted green or brown if so desired. Using own homemade compost will make the exercise more satisfying.
Recycle container gardening can be a rewarding family project. It can also be shared with neighbours, domestics and gardeners.
The government has indicated an increase in the tariff for shopping bags. Most of the users try to reuse the bags. However, consider using material off-cuts to make cloth bags which will last years. Again if you are not able to sow, ask a neighbour or friend who does. As most plastic is oil based any saving thereof is positive.
Plastics are an indispensable part of our daily lives. Let’s us be responsible with this useful commodity from beginning to end.
(The second part of the series will be published in the next edition of GPS News as this article written by Richard Quinnell is perfect for Earth Day and the message of plastic pollution.)