Recycling is a hot word these days, everyone is using it, companies are shouting it out loud.
And it is great, recycling is really important, it is a good job that everyone is now talking about recycling, because it makes sense, why waste?
Waste makes no sense to us, and taking something and creating something else out of it is exiting to me, I love the idea that a piece of plastic, wood or metal is not clogging up a landfill site, never to be seen again, that is not only a waste of space in the landfill, but a waste of a precious resource that is now rendered useless in this big hole in the ground. It is so much better to take it melt it and turn it into something new.
But it also uses lots of energy, so recycling should really be a last resort after you have compared the other options. Although when you compare recycling to making something from new, there is often a huge difference in the energy needed to recycle. For example, aluminum only needs 5% of the energy needed to create it from virgin material!
Although metals are incredibly polluting to mine and energy intensive to manufacture, once that initial step is done then we have the metal here so we might as well make the most use out of it and recycle it as many times and as long as we possibly can!
Recycling is really a massive step forward for the 21st human, because he produces so much stuff he needs to both recycle it, but better still, he needs to see recycling as a last step, or one of the last resorts.
Before recycling we need to think about how we can reduce, reuse, re-manufacture, then recycle!
If we reduce, then we have less need to take more out of the ground and less need to recycle, use energy and resources. We each probably have too much already, we probably waste too much and could do well with using less, eating less, and having less possessions that only end up complicating our lives and stressing us out, this is why I love designing fitted furniture because you can hide everything away nicely asif you had nothing!
It isn’t the possessions we have that make us rich, it is the thoughts in our head, the friendships we have, the people we help, we care for that we need to increase and that makes us fulfilled and truly sustainable happy, not just a quick fix kind of happy.
When I put lovely glass bottles and jars in the recycling bin I just think, what a shame that has to be smashed, melted and made into a new bottle all to be just filled with orange juice again, drank in a day, and smashed again! Recycling is a great step forward, but that to me makes no sense.
This is where we need to look at the good things of the past such as when in England we used to keep bottles, bring them back to the shop for cleaning and reuse, that makes sense doesn’t it? Specially if we use a natural cleaning product and not some nasty chemical!
Belgium where I was brought up still partially uses that system, when you have drunk your bottle of beer, you put it back into your returnable crate, and when you take it back to the shop you can redeem the value of the crate and glass, or just get another full crate!
Same with milk bottles, bring back the British milk man and his reusable milk and orange juice bottles, put some organic juice in there instead, organic milk, goats milk or almond or other nut milk if you have to have milk, (I can’t really drink milk my body doesn’t accept it well), make the truck solar powered or something, clean the bottles with natural soap, make it a social enterprise where the community gains, employ some local people and you have a great system.
Of course you can use your old jam jars to keep stuff you make, or put herbs in, grow seeds or put screws, nails and bits in.
If you are creative or like using your hands or making things, you can, restore or up-cycle your waste, cut stuff up and make nice objects and useful bits out of them. I designed the re-cut™ Milo table with the waste offcuts my company was producing, it is a table made with strips of all sorts of different wood boards, that way we were avoiding landfill and extending the use of a material.
Ptolemy Elrington finds hub caps in the street and makes the most stunningly realistic creatures from them, how he visualises them and brings life to some plastic hub caps to me is mind blowing!
I love the velo-re belts that Betty makes from old bike tires: http://www.velo-re.com/sales.php
This clock made by Allan Young using an old wheel is just beautiful:
Green works reuses, refurbishes and recycles office furniture. http://www.green-works.co.uk/pages/removing_unwanted_furniture.html
Recycling on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling
Follow me @TristanTiteux on Twitter
Search Tristan Titeux in Google for other links.