I count myself lucky to be born in Australia's coffee capital of Melbourne and love to write about what's on in my home town.
Published July 20th 2012
Mention the word 'recycling', and the first thing that springs to mind for most of us is the fortnightly kerbside collection of paper, glass and plastics conducted by our local councils. Yet there is so much more we can do to reduce the amount of everyday household waste that ends up as landfill, and it isn't as hard as you might think. It is so basic in fact, that the concept of 'Reduce-Reuse-Recycle' is now taught in many Australian pre-schools!
Here are some not-so-commonly-known ways that you can make a difference:
Sight and Reading Glasses
If you wear prescription glasses, and have an old pair or two lying unloved in a drawer, you can donate them to the OneSight Foundation, who will thoroughly test them for functionality before giving them to needy adults and children in poor communities around the world. All you need to do is drop your unwanted eyewear in to any OPSM, Laubman and Pank Budget Eyewear or Sunglass Hut store.
Donate your unwanted prescription glasses (Image courtesy of OneSight)
Televisions and Computers Once upon a time in Australian suburbia, the bi-annual council 'hard garbage collection' meant seeing our nature strips lined with all manner of pre-loved household items, from lounge suites to bicycles, but most prevalently, televisions and computers.
Hard garbage collection (Image courtesy of Bayside Leader)
The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme aims to substantially reduce this electronic wasteland by rolling out purpose built television and computer collection and recycling facilities in each state and territory over the next 5 years.
In the meantime, you can donate your old computer to a not for profit organisation like Computerbank in West Melbourne, who will refurbish donated computers for reuse by individuals and community groups in need.
Mattresses Known as Soft Landing, this new initiative of Mission Australia is currently under trial in New South Wales, and aims to reduce the number of mattresses that end up in landfill by recycling their components and where possible, hygenically refurbishing them for donation or sale through their Big Heart charity shops.
Refurbished mattresses are donated or sold in Big Heart op shops (Image courtesy of Mission Australia)
Laser and Ink Cartridges Common in many offices nowadays, cartridge recycling is unfortunately not something many of us do at home. Several initiatives currently underway are helping to stem the tide of laser and ink cartridges being thrown out. The most widely publicised is Planet Ark's 'Cartridges 4 Planet Ark' campaign, whereby consumers can take their used or empty cartridges and toner bottles from printers, photocopiers and fax machines to one of a number of retail drop points for collection. Planet Ark then arranges for them to be remanufactured as new cartridges and toners or for the components to be separated out and recycled. Stores providing a drop point include all Officeworks and JB HiFi outlets, plus selected Australia Post, Dick Smith, The Good Guys and Harvey Norman outlets.
(Image courtesy of Planet Ark)
Mobile Phones and Accessories
Aussies love their mobile phones. More than that, we love updating them. Frequently. The result has been a huge number of perfectly good phones ending up in drawers and cupboards, gathering dust, or being thrown in the rubbish. Enter MobileMuster. MobileMuster is a collection service for recycling your preloved mobiles, chargers, other mobile phone accessories and even USB sticks. Most big name mobile phone companies like Optus, Telstra and 3 provide collection bins in all their retail outlets, as do many Dick Smith stores.
BatteryBack gives new life to your old batteries (Image courtesy of Sustainability Victoria)
Batteries Sustainability Victoria's ResourceSmart program is the driving force behind Batteryback, a collection service not unlike that of MobileMuster. It provides for consumers to deposit their old single-use household batteries in specially marked collection bins located in a variety of retail outlets, including Batteryworld, IKEA, selected Bunnings, Coles and Officeworks stores, Michael's Cameras and Officeworks. A great initiative, especially when you consider that approximately 90% of battery components can be recycled!
It pays to look more closely at the packaging on your everyday goods, for when it comes to recycling, the devil really IS in the detail. For example, did you know that Coles branded bread bags and the plastic wrapping around Quilton bulk toilet roll packs were both recyclable?
Do you know of other great ways to recycle?
Please share them with us in the comments below.
Great list. There are many things that can be given to local pre-schools for used by the kids.
1 Old posters that businesses don't use anymore for the kids to use the back of
2 Egg cartons for crafts
3 cardboard from loo rolls for crafts
Why not ask the local primary or pre-school or childcare centre if they could use them and then keep a box in your garage and put these things in there until you have enough to pass them on
Several years ago we were having a cleanout at work as we were moving buildings. I kept all the coloured folders, posters etc and passed them onto the local school. They were thrilled