What is the future of recycling?

head-with-puzzleFor decades now people have been talking about the importance of recycling.  And it has even gone from something that just tree huggers talk about to something that is becoming rather mainstream.  The question is, where do we go from here?  To be sure there is still plenty to do in the recycling arena.  And the first thing is to change people’s thoughts about trash.

In much of the developed world we still think of most things as use and then throw away.  While cloth shopping bags and nice water bottles have helped we need to think of things in more of a circular pattern.  Ask yourself, just what could be done with this item before you toss it in the rubbish bin.  You may find that you can recycle a lot, and some of it might even be done right at home.

Another major area that mankind needs to make a change is food waste.  In 2012 a mere 5% of 26 million tons of food waste was saved from being tossed in a landfill.  The sad truth is that there is a very simple thing that most of it could be used for.  Even if we all decided that it is no longer good for anyone to eat, it could be composted.  This can either be done at home or on a community level, but it would allow for waste to be diverted from landfills and be used to help other plants grow.

The other major concern doesn’t have as easy of an at home solution.  E-waste needs some bigger gear to go through.  Simple technology like a laptop or phone has quite a few different components inside that can be reused.  There are also several that aren’t really what you would want to leech into the ground.  However unlike food scraps putting old tech in a pile in your backyard won’t help to develop new smart phones.  There are a number of companies that have collection points to ensure that usable bits of your old tech can be reused in new shiny devices though.

One last big thing is that companies are taking steps to no longer use those thin plastic bags.  Yes, they are convenient and cheap, but it also means we don’t care about them.  In the some cities in the US they blow down the streets and no one cares to pick them up or through them out.  If might be a pain to remember to take your reusable bags, but it would be much better for the earth.