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We do it because it matters . . .

By Karen Cannard

Recycling Picture: WRAP (4454895)
Recycling Picture: WRAP (4454895)

This month I’d like to raise a toast to Recycle Week, the national campaign that seeks to raise awareness of how we can recycle better.

I first stumbled across Recycle Week 10 years ago, in 2008, when it was just in its fifth year and I loved how the campaign’s website – Recyclenow.com – offered easy access to information about what you can recycle at home. I also liked how the awareness week made me feel that it was actually quite normal to want to find out more.

Because there is a difference between what might feel normal to you and how it is actually perceived by others.

During my early blogging years, I was often ridiculed for being a ‘Recycling Nerd’ and one of the arguments that was regularly thrown at me during radio interviews was: “But who on earth has got time to look at a website?”

For a long time it felt like many people simply preferred to remain confused about what they could and couldn’t recycle rather than visit a website that eased their confusion – even with smartphones to hand, which would enable such information to be retrieved within minutes.

So it was with interest while browsing Twitter this week, that I saw a Tweet from Peter Maddox – @PeterJMaddox – announcing that following a BBC report the Recycle Now website had received 500,000 extra views plus 180,000 visits to their Recycling Locator.

Maddox, a director of WRAP, the charity that runs Recycle Week, described it as a ‘huge, huge jump on normal activity. The public is interested and wants to #recycle more’.

This year’s campaign theme is certainly engaging. It’s built on the message: ‘Recycling. We Do. Because it matters’.

And in my experience, once someone has stepped over the threshold to understand more about recycling, there is often no going back.

All those hurdles or doubts which once tickled you towards the rubbish bin, gradually fall by the wayside.

You might even recognise some of them. If you haven’t uttered these words, I bet all of us will know at least one person who has . . .

“But I haven’t got time to wash my recycling.”

“I can’t fit it all my recycling bin.”

“I don’t even know if this can be recycled.”

“I heard it just gets buried in landfill anyway.”

“Nobody else in my house recycles, why should I bother?”

“But doesn’t it just get shipped overseas?”

“I pay my council tax so it’s the council’s job to sort my rubbish, not mine.”

“Surely it’s cheaper to just throw it in the rubbish?”

That’s why an awareness campaign like Recycle Week matters – as well as giving us practical tips, we can also use it as a nudge to ask more questions and to resolve our doubts.

And with new audiences taking a fresh interest each year it creates a much more informed society.

So if you are keen to find out more, RecycleNow.com has lots of informative facts and I would also recommend other useful websites, such as resource.co, www.letsrecycle.com and www.edie.net.

Of course, recycling is only part of the process of reducing waste. Its Waste Hierarchy cousins REUSE & REDUCE should also get a shout-out too. And on that note, I couldn’t sign off this month’s column without mention of Food Savvy, a brand new local campaign recently launched by Suffolk Recycle.

The campaign aims to help families reduce waste of the edible variety. So if your household is constantly battling a bin full of food waste, check out their tips at www.foodsavvy.org.uk. And for those on Twitter, follow the hashtag #foodsavvy.

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