Recycling is the one area where we have been very conscientious for a while now. My partner takes responsibility for ensuring that all our rubbish is sorted and we compost food waste (although the dog often ensures there is very little of that). Paper, plastic, batteries, ink cartridges, glass and metals all have a place to go and what plastic containers that cannot be recycled end up in Armelie’s art projects, as containers for seedlings or in the cupboard waiting for some future use.
Other items that can be recycled like clothing and books end up in charity shops, contributing to the funds raised by organisations such as Oxfam, and I in turn visit these shops looking for books and clothes and furniture that we can use ourselves.
So I should feel great, but I don’t. I am suspicious of where the plastic, paper, batteries etc.. end up being recycled. Over recent years there have a number of stories in the British press regarding unsorted plastic waste being sent to countries like India to be dealt with, creating mounds of waste, some of it toxic in countries that do not have as strict environmental laws as we do here. Recent stories of electronic waste ending up in Ghana where young children were working in toxic and dangerous conditions to recover valuable metals has made me reconsider what may have happened to my old computer that I took to the council site for recycling last year. Of course I have no way of knowing, and can only hope that is not where it ended up.
In a few months time I will be due for a new phone, my contract allows for one every 24 months, but the company started to offer me deals three months before in an attempt to keep me as a customer. I would like to say that I will resist and will not take the offer. However like many electronics my phone was “designed for the dump”, and at 19 months old it is already starting to show signs of old age. It needs constant updating, the charger lead is temperamental and so is the phone. On the other hand I have kept my television for 10 years. It’s an old fashioned cathode ray tube and when I needed it repaired 3 years ago the repairman said that it would probably last another 10, it was built to last, sadly he also commented that he had very little work now, most people replacing rather than repairing.
We will continue to reduce, reuse, recycle and hope that governments ensure that the waste is dealt with a sustainable way for all the world’s societies.