With plastic surrounding us in everyday life, it is important to understand how you can make some simple choices to reduce your environmental impact. Plastic bags are a big contributor to landfill and many of us have piles of them at home! How can you reduce plastic bag waste or find plastic alternatives?
If you have some traditional plastic bags at home, do not despair, you can reuse them! There are some easy and ingenious ways to reuse these plastic bags from creating new products or using them for storage, to using them as waste bags or just using them again and again for your shopping.
How To Recycle Plastic At Home?
Many people are concerned that their plastic bags cannot be reused again and will contribute to landfill, however, this is not true! You can actually recycle your plastic or reuse it from the comfort and ease of your own home with some knowledge and effort.
Of course, you can recycle products marked as recyclable in your waste by placing them in the recycling bin, but how can you recycle at home? It is important to understand that you can reuse and you can also recycle.
Consider your options by:
– Learning about the different types of plastic and what they can be used for or if they are recyclable
– Separating your plastic waste for recycling
– Creating new products at home from your plastics
– Starting craft projects to reuse your plastics
– Reusing your plastics for storage, carrying products or their original use (if safe).
How Can You Recycle Plastic Bottles At Home?
Although very few of us have access to recycling machines at home, you can recycle your bottles by turning them into new items such as bowls (cut into halves and decorate), storage or even small succulent pots. You can also use them as pet treat dispensers by removing the ring and lid.
There are some machines being introduced that will shred plastic, use plastic for 3D printing or form plastic into molds. These can be made at home but do require a fair amount of skill and access to the right materials.
Most of us should focus more on recycling where we can, upcycling and reusing plastic items to reduce our environmental footprint.
How Can You Recycle Plastic Bags At Home?
Again, just like the bottles, this is more about reuse than recycling and you can find so many ways online to reuse or upcycle your plastic bags. Plastic bags are unfortunately prevalent across the world, being the main source of waste, storage and grocery carrying options for many decades.
Some of the innovative ways you can reuse or upcycle your plastic bags at home include:
- Reuse the bags when doing your shopping
- Use to carry or store products that may leak liquid
- Use the bags for storage or carrying other items
- Turn into crafts projects with your children
- Use as trash bags
- Make into food packaging wraps
- Line your paint trays
- Send to recycling if marked as such.
Consider the environment in your usage though – do not put your craft projects where they could be ingested by animals through pecking or food/water sources or place in the ground where they can leach into the soil or water.
Why Reuse And Recycle Plastic?
We are all familiar with plastic. Different types of plastics are used in everyday products from medication packaging and food packaging to toys, engineering and building products. However, not all plastics are recyclable.
Some plastics, of course, are recyclable – either easily or with sophisticated processes. However, unless it is a bioplastic, none are completely safe for the environment as they cannot be broken down in a composter or in landfill. They must be recycled to be reused again.
Why Should You Understand Your Plastics?
It is important to understand your plastics, which can be recycled and how. Being informed, educated and taking control are key to becoming more eco-friendly! We will get you started in this article and then it is up to you to start making your new choices.
There are seven types of common plastics, with thermoplastics being found in many common products from toys and sports equipment to water bottles and packaging. When disposed of, these traditional plastics contribute to not only landfill, but are toxic for wildlife and soil.
Consider ways you can reduce your use of these plastics and where there may be a good environmentally friendly alternative. There are many products that will fit the bill either in bioplastics or completely reusable items such as metal or glass coffee cups and drink bottles.
Compostable and biodegradable (bioplastics) plastics provide a great alternative to these plastics, however, are not able to replace all current plastic uses. It is important to understand your plastics, take note of whether or not they are recyclable and decide how you will dispose of, upcycle or use again to minimise your environmental impact.
What Plastic Can Be Recycled?
Traditional plastic is everywhere, used in everyday products and unfortunately not all plastics are able to be recycled. There are seven main types of plastics, with various uses and manufacturing processes.
Perhaps the most common is PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which is widely used for many plastic bottles and packaging. The good news is, PET is recyclable. However, other plastics are either recyclable – easily or with sophisticated processes – or not at all. This means they contribute to landfill.
Other plastics which are common and recyclable include:
- HDPE (high-density polyethylene) – used for robust packaging such as milk bottles or those of cleaning supplies and shampoo. It’s also used for grocery bags but releases estrogenic chemicals.
- LDPE (low-density polyethylene) – used for film applications or coatings and food packaging. This plastic can also leach toxic chemicals if left unrecycled.
- PP (polypropylene) – used for packaging and plastic parts, textiles, special devices, yoghurt containers, medications and takeout meals. PP is recyclable and can be turned into fibres for materials such as clothing. Due to its high heat tolerance, PP doesn’t seem to leach many of the chemicals other plastics do.
It is important to note that no traditional plastics are completely safe for the environment as they cannot be broken down in a composter or in landfill. They must be recycled to be reused again.
How Do I Know When Plastic Can Be Recycled?
To understand which plastics can be recycled and how to dispose of them, it is important to understand that plastics are classified in numbers from 1-7 which also helps identify their level of recyclability.
Many plastic products will have a number on the back or base of the product which indicates the type of plastic used to make the product. They typically also have the recycling symbol on them to assist. These numbers help customers understand which products to avoid, which can be recycled and how. Many of your local recycling plants will have a list of product numbers that can be recycled.
You can also contact your local Council or waste management plant to find out which products they can recycle and what you should do to maximise the impact of your recycling.
You can read more about the types of plastics in this blog.
What New Products Can Be Created By Recycling Plastics?
Many companies are getting on board with recycling plastic to create new products! From Adidas and the Girlfriend Collective to Nike, big brands are making more and more products that are created from recycled plastic.
Currently, we are seeing items such as sneakers, activewear, homewares such as blankets or cushions as well as dinnerware all being made from recycled plastic or marine plastic. These products remove plastic from the ocean and landfill to give them a second life.
With eight million tons of plastic dumped into the ocean globally per year, these products are protecting wildlife and our oceans. Some of the products currently being made from recycled plastic include:
– Yoga mats
– Dog collars and leashes
– Toiletry bottles
– Sheeting for building
– Traffic cones
– Packing materials.
Does Non-Recycled Plastic Harm The Environment?
Traditional plastic is bad for the environment due to its toxicity and inability to break down in landfill or anywhere. This is why it is important to recycle plastic where possible as well as reuse or upcycle. With plastic surrounding us in everyday life, it is critical to understand its impact on the environment.
From the cutlery you receive at a takeaway to the bag you take your trash out in, plastic is everywhere. Unfortunately, many types of plastic are not recyclable, compostable or biodegradable and it is important to understand which types you are using and any available alternatives.
The impact that traditional plastic has when disposed of in landfill includes:
– Landfill and waste contribution where it can take hundreds of years to decompose
– Toxic leaching into the soil or waterways
– Danger to wildlife through ingestion and toxic chemicals
– Contribution to greenhouse gases during manufacturing
– Contribution to water and electricity usage in manufacturing.
How Can You Recycle Plastic In Your Waste Bins?
Did you know that plastic is complex and can be difficult to dispose of? With many different types of plastic that may or may not be recyclable, plastic also may or may not release toxic chemicals when exposed to extreme temperatures or landfill.
It is important to understand that many of these products will have a number on the back or base of the product which indicates the type of plastic used to make the product. These will help you to know which products to avoid and which can be recycled and how. Many of your local recycling plants will have a list of product numbers that can be recycled.
To contribute to recycling there are several things you can do:
– Understand what can and cannot be recycled
– Dispose of either at a collection point – for those in areas that take items such as soft drink bottles or in a recycling bin
– Reuse or upcycle at home.
When placing into your recycling bin or disposing of at a collection point, you should:
– Wash or clean the item
– Remove any lids or plastic rings
– Remove packaging or labels.
What Items Do You Think Are Recyclable But Are Not?
Unfortunately, many people assume a lot of plastics are recyclable and can be disposed of in a recycling bin. However, many products actually are not recyclable and contribute to landfill or contaminate the entire recycling.
Some of these products often mistaken as recyclable include:
– Coffee cups (often they have a thin layer of plastic film inside)
– Coffee lids
– Dirty or food filled plastics
– Plastic lids and neck rings (must be separated from the bottle for recycling).
Understand your plastics and whether or not they can be recycled! If they cannot, look for alternatives in your day-to-day life and you will be surprised at the options.
Plastic is everywhere around us and plastic bags have been at the top of that list for many decades. It is important to understand how you can recycle, reuse or upcycle these plastic bags to reduce your environmental impact.
Do you have some traditional plastic bags at home and you are unsure what to do with them? Jump online and have a look at all the genius ways you can reuse or upcycle these bags. From arts and crafts to storage or simply reusing as carry bags, the options are endless.
However, do be careful that you are protecting your family, soil and wildlife in where you are placing these upcycled plastics. Plastic can leach toxic chemicals into food, water or soil so steer clear of these uses.
Of course, you can recycle products marked as recyclable in your waste by placing them in the recycling bin or taking them to a collection point. Understanding your plastics is important to ensure you dispose of them correctly and in the most eco-friendly way possible.