Step 5. Recycle, only if you have to!

So I introduced the 5R method back in My journey to zero waste living.

And I have been going through the steps one by one, explaining each step and what I have done or been doing to achieve them. Some steps take longer to explain and some not so much.

Today, I want to jump from Step three-Reuse to Step five-Recycl, only if you have to! before going through the Step four-Remake. Reason being, we hear a lot about the recycling conundrum nowadays specially in Australia and how some Victorian outer councils had to cancel their curb side recycling collection as their recycling contractors refused renewing their contracts due to lack of customers for their finished products.

On the other hand, some councils urging their residents to continue recycling as they still have solid contracts in place that will prohibits collectors throwing the recycling materials into landfills.

Considering all the steps we talked about so far and all the possibilities that recycling situation can create, I think it is safe to say that reducing consumption is the safe way to go. We have talked about reducing for a while in so many posts before and it just goes to show as long as you stick to the essentials and avoid packaging that comes mainly with non-essential items you do not have much to recycle any way. If you find innovative ways to reuse little recycling that gets collected out of your essential items, you could well be out of anything to recycle in the first place.

This means you don’t have to worry about the logistics and the politics of recycling around the world or in your country. You can just be free of these worries and live a happy life.

In my talks on Zero Waste and Happy and Wealthy with Frugality I go over ways to reuse stuff and rethink before putting anything in a bin. That bin being a recycling or garbage (rubbish) bin. It doesn’t matter, they are both waste. Recycling waste will be brought back to life through an energy and water intensive process that is a necessary one to if we are to have a circular process for all of our manufactured good, that is a process that uses our limited natural resources to produce the good but then give back to those natural resources to assist replenishing them.  But with the current rate of consumption  a lot more recycling has to happen and that is simply not possible with the current technology nor the current appetite for recycled products [read more here].

Again I think recycling is necessary, because it means things that can be reused after a series of transformation done are diverted from landfill but we don’t have to consume at the current rate to ensure recycling happens, we can just slow down and still plenty will be left to recycle. Plus innovating in the recycling technologies means we can recycle better ans smarter in the future not just more. More is not the answer.

Let me give you examples, milk is a necessary for many of us, if you are not a vegan or if you have kids at home that are not lactose intolerance. So buying milk from mainly supermarket if you don’t have access to fresh farm milk is essential. However, you will end up with milk bottles that you can reuse for various gardening or craft projects but after a while you run out of projects and you have to recycle. In my opinion, this is a valid reason to recycle. But drinking soft drink everyday and recycling the can then feeling all warm and cosy that “I am such a good citizen recycling the soft drink can” is not valid to me. Why? First,   soft drink is not good for you, full of sugar and its consumption in the long run has serious medical perils that will cost you and the society tons in public funding to alleviate.  Second, it is non-essential item. Third, it is not socially responsible as most of the multinational companies making these soft drinks, doing so by buying natural resources, water in this case, of third world countries forcing their farming/agriculture industries going bankrupt. So no good reason for consuming your recyclable can of soft drink. Therefore, no good reason for producing it and no good reason for recycling it.

Let me know in the comments what you think.

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