This week I have teamed up with Beyond The Box, a campaign dedicated to promoting the benefits of cardboard in response to growing consumer concern about packaging.
I don’t know about you but while some companies are getting better there are still way too many that seem to include plastic for the sake of it. Who needs their new knickers to arrive on mini-hangers that you can’t even re-use much less recycle? And how many times do you open a cardboard package to find a plastic bag inside?
Growing media interest about the environmental impact of packaging, new government policy and plastic-free packaging strategies has pushed packaging to the forefront of consumers’ minds. In response, the ‘Beyond the Box’ campaign was launched with the aim to help us learn more about cardboard and its credentials as a sustainable packaging choice.
But despite this we are still not recycling our cardboard enough. Beyond the Box has carried out research to try and find out why this is – after all cardboard is cardboard – it’s not like trying to identify which sort of plastic your yoghurt came in and working out if you can recycle it or not.
Research carried out over the last year found that some people are still failing to recycle. Fourteen per cent said they just couldn’t be bothered and 13.5 per cent felt there was no point.
Cardboard ticks all the boxes as it’s recyclable, renewable, reusable as well as being biodegradable and the paper fibres used to create it can be re-used up to seven times. And it’s the easiest thing of the lot to recycle.
But one of the issues, I think, is the amount of space needed for recycling. I’m lucky where I live because I can wash everything and stick it in one bin and the council takes responsibility for sorting it so it takes up less room in my house. But I have friends outside the capital who have to sort and separate the card from the paper and the plastic from the glass which can take up more space.
Beyond The Box found that 55 per cent of us admit to never finding the time to throw things away or sort them out.
So how can we make recycling easier?
1 You need to find a space for your recycling boxes. Remember how excited we all get in September at the thought of new stationery? Well, we need to take that attitude into creating our recycling spaces.
The first thing is to look at products designed to do the job. Joseph Joseph has created a compact split recycling bin for the bathroom after learning that while some of us were meticulous about kitchen recycling, we fail to do to the same in the bathroom. Reasoning that might be partly down to the fact that most of us only have one bin in there they came up with a split version with two compartments so you can stick the empty loo rolls and cardboard in one side and the empty beauty products (glass and plastic) in the other.
It costs £30 so that’s that excuse dealt with.
2 Another idea which can be used in either the kitchen or the bathroom is to buy a compartmentalised laundry bin. They are mostly designed for lights and darks, but some have another compartment for all the colours in between. This can live in either the kitchen or the bathroom, or even, if you live in a flat or have a tiny bathroom, on a landing, in a hallway or a bedroom. The point is that if it looks nice you won’t mind it being on show. Unlike that ugly black plastic bucket that you want to hide away.
3 Talking of adapting existing pieces of furniture, those slim fit shoe cabinets from Ikea (try the Hemnes) are only 22cm deep and will fit into the slimmest of spaces. If you flatten your plastic bottles, squash your tins and collapse your cardboard you can store a fair amount of recycling in them and keep it out of sight before you transfer it to the outside bins.
4 Create your own recycling unit by buying either pretty baskets or boxes and working out what needs to store where. Rattan baskets always look pretty, and I have used the Hay recycled plastic crates in my bathroom.
5 Make space for your recycling. This is one of the biggest issues we all have to face. Recycling takes up space. If you have having a new kitchen fitted, designers are probably already on this and are adding extra cupboards or coming up with clever storage ideas to incorporate recycling into your kitchen. For the rest of us it’s about retro-fitting. I reckon most of us could free up at least one cupboard for this job by getting rid of all the plastic storage which no longer matches any lids or taking that unused juicer to the tip or charity shop.
Once your cupboard is clear, keep back one small storage box to keep all the used batteries until you have enough to take to a recycling point, and store all the flattened cardboard on a shelf if you have one. Then have an open box on the bottom into which you can easily throw the plastic and tins which you have squashed to take up less space.
By making your recycling point accessible and attractive you are more likely to use it and to feel like sorting things out rather than leaving them lying around. If you want to be really organised, you can print out the recycling days and stick it to the inside of the cupboard door so you can see at a glance what needs to go out when.
I hope that has inspired you to create your own recycling point. I have illustrated this post with some ideas created by others working on this campaign who have made spaces outside and in small apartments to give us all some ideas of what we can do.