There are four good reasons forrecycling, in descending order ofimportance: (1) By recycling materials you will besaving large amounts of energy thatwould otherwise be needed to make themanew from raw materials. By saving onelectricity, and thus requiring lessfossil fuels, this will cause lesscarbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide tobe produced. Sulphur dioxide causesacid rain, which damages forests,wildlife and buildings, while carbondioxide causes the greenhouse effect, afar more serious problem as it isexpected to cause catastrophic climatechanges. (2) Recycling materials means that theyare used again instead of being thrownaway somewhere. If recycling does nottake place, more and more rubbish willbe produced in a never-endingprogression (millions of tonnes eachyear). The growing shortage of land forrubbish tips and land-fill sites meansthat more and more beautiful areas ofland are being strewn with rubbish. Aswell as being dangerous, the continualaccumulation of rubbish of varioussorts ruins whole areas of landscape. (3) Huge amounts of raw materials thatshould be saved are being wasted andthrown away. By recycling, thesematerials can be re-used, and theirnatural sources saved for later use.This not only means that vitalresources will not run out as quickly(world supplies of some metals areexpected to run out within 25 years,with disastrous consequences for someindustries), but also importanthabitats can be protected, for examplerecycling aluminium cans means that theAmazon rain-forests suffer lessdestruction through mining of newaluminium ore (bauxite). (4) Many recycling activies also raisemoney for charity. (1) One of the most important materialsto recycle is the aluminium used incans. This saves 95% of the energy usedto produce a new can - in other wordsthe saving of energy is absolutelyhuge. Recycling cans also raises largeamounts of money, which most recyclingcentres will give to charity. As wellas this, there is the advantage ofpreventing destruction of therainforests mentioned above. Ensure that a can is aluminium bytrying a magnet on the side; if itDOESN'T stick, then it is aluminium.Try to avoid cans with additionalplastic bits inside, for exampledraughtflow beer cans. Push the can inin the middle and then flatten it; thismeans you can fit lots of them in aplastic bag. Some recycling organisers will alsowant tin cans, i.e. iron coated withtin. Use the same procedure, but don'tget the two sorts mixed up. (2) Recycling paper is one of the mostwidely publicised activities, sadlyBritiain is still well behind most EECcountries in implementing it. One ofthe most important things you can do isto BUY RECYCLED PAPER; this helps toensure that there is sufficient demandfor it.The more people buy recycledpaper, the more the prices will fall;at present recycled computer listingpaper can be bought for the same priceas non-recycled; recycled writing paperis also available. Many people refuse to use recycledpaper because they think it is not goodquality, but the only noticeabledifference is the slightly darkercolour of the paper - this is causedbecause recycled paper is not producedusing unnecessary bleaches, harmful tothe environment, to turn the paperbrilliant white. The resulting paper isperfectly acceptable for writing, andis also easier on the eyes, especiallyreading through lots ofcomputer-generated text late at night.For photocopying or similar, highquality 75% recycled paper, which isguaranteed for laser printing, can beobtained. It is a little moreexpensive, but at only 0.5p per sheet,it is a negligible cost compared to theprinting costs of 2p/page upwards onink-jets, laser printers andphotocopiers. Recycling paper is particularlyadvantageous, because if you throwpaper away, as well as increasing theamount of rubbish, it will eventuallyrot, giving off methane, which cancause explosions, and carbon dioxide -both gases contribute to the greenhouseeffect. The best way to collect paper forrecycling is to find an A4-sizedcardboard box (Tesco supermarkets, andpossibly others, often leave suitableboxes from their packaging to becollected by anyone who wants them),and leave it wherever is convenient.Lay paper flat, this way you can fitfar more into the box. Recycle all paper products -newspapers, magazines (preferablywithout the staples), circulars andcatalogues, envelopes too badly torn tobe re-used (without the plastic insertsof address windows). If your box fillsup before you have time to hand it overfor recycling, simply put it awaysomewhere and fill another one. (3) If there is a cardboard-recyclingscheme in your area, this is alsovaluable, since cardboard rots whenthrown away too. For cereal boxes etc.,open the top and bottom of the carton,and then fold it flat. Similarly withall waste cardboard (although thetougher sorts can be used to protectdisks), including the cardboard insidesof toilet rolls! By crushing all your cardboard and cardflat, you can fit an incredible amountof it into one cardboard box (probablyseveral hundred cereal packets), and itstill doesn't weigh that much. (4) Recycling glass is alsoadvantageous, and saves significantamounts of energy; avoiding having lotsof broken glass lying around rubbishtips is also of obvious benefit tochildren who live near them. Inaddition, glass manufacturers (likealuminium can makers) need as muchrecycled glass as you can possibly givethem, and the final product isindistinguishable from normal glass. Use a cardboard box to put all yourbottles, jars etc. in (no plastic topsor corks, but the stickers and labelsdon't matter). Ensure that the glass isplaced in the correct-colouredreceptacle for recycling (brown, greenor clear is usually the choice), thoughdon't worry if a bottle is half-way inbetween two colours and you can'tdecide. (5) Some areas have facilities forrecycling plastic - I believe it mainlyapplies to bottles of orange squashetc., because there are many differentsorts of plastic. This is also a goodidea, but very few areas have thisfacility, and it doesn't save as muchenergy as recycling glass, so wherepossible, buy glass bottles inpreference to plastic. (6) Used stamps! Strange though it mayseem, stamps that have been stamped bythe Post Office can actually raisemoney for charity. Cut off the stamps,including a narrow border of the paperthey have been stuck on (then recyclethe envelope!). If you can't findsomeone that can make use of them, sendthem on to me (8BS, 1 Oakwood Driveetc.) - they don't weigh much! Butdon't cut up an envelope that could bere-used. Recycling facilities are now spreadacross the entire country, but not allof them are convenient, and they canoccasionally be hard to find if youdon't know about them. But persevere,and try the following: (1) Tesco, Sainsbury's and otherssupport recycling, and many stores havebottle banks and/or receptacles forpaper, cardboard, cans in theirgrounds. (2) Your county council (or whatever)should have implemented a policy onrecycling, and some (most/all?)councils have a Recycling Officer toorganise this. Write to them or phonethem (check local phone book) and askfor information; you may be surprisedby the number of recycling facilitiesspread across your area. If they do notprovide a reasonable amount offacilities, complain.
(3) Friends of the Earth provide orsupport a number of recyclingcollection schemes (such as one inOxford), and even if they do not dothis in your area, they may be able toprovide you with information about howto find recycling facilities if neitherof the two above options can help you. The best way to contact them is throughtheir Local Groups, which should haveinfo about recycling in their area: Brent 081 440 1366 Brentwood 0277 221123 Elmbridge 081 783 0357 Enfield 081 360 9193 Epsom 081 393 9409 Hemel Hempstead 0442 67674 Hillingdon 0895 639251 Mole Valley 0306 882811 North Mymms 0707 269589 Reigate 0737 643563 St Albans 0727 51278 Staines 0932 245124 Surbiton 081 390 0053 Tandridge 0883 342841 Watford 0923 221353 Woking 0483 725439 If none of these are close enough toyou, try ringing Friends of the Earthon 071 490 1555 and ask if there is aLocal Group in your area; there arearound 300 altogether. If the nearest recycling facility toyou is too far to walk, don't make aspecific journey by car, as this isvery inefficient; try to drop off thematerials for recycling on the way tosomewhere else. (1) Far more efficient than recyclingis re-using. For example, it is farbetter to open an envelope carefully sothat it can be used again than to sendit to be recycled and then buy anotherone. Re-using materials saves largeamounts of energy and resources, andcan also save you lots of money. For sending disks, 100% cardboard diskmailers are best as they can be usedagain and again (don't seal them withtoo much tape, though, as they can beripped accidentally), while simpleboard-backed envelopes and paddedenvelopes tend to fall apart after only2-3 uses, and often rip when beingopened. Many companies (and people) sendletters etc. printed on only one sideof the paper. Find (another) A4-sizedcardboard box, and store up all thesheets that are in good enoughcondition to be re-used. I have wellover 1000 sheets of paper ready forre-use. They can be used for rough notes foryourself (home, work, school,university), for draft printouts, andbasically anything that you areprinting or writing only for yourself(although I did at one stage printschool essays on the back of notes andquestion-sheets that had beenphotocopied on one side only). Once youhave used the paper for the secondtime, then is the time to recycle it. Try to avoid throwing things away thatmay be of use to other people; manycharities collect old clothes andunwanted toys etc., or you could sellthem at a car boot sale or whatever.There are many different things thatcan be re-used; all you have to do isto think of them! (2) When shopping, try to make anenvironmentally friendly choice. Onlybuy aerosols if they are "CFC-free" or"Ozone-friendly". Avoid buying productswith excessive packaging (for example,it is better to buy Cadbury's CremeEggs singly than in three-packs). Foritems like orange squash etc., try tobuy larger bottles (2 litre) ratherthan small (1 litre), as you then endup with less packaging per litre of theproduct. If possible, buy glass bottles ratherthan plastic, as these are easier torecycle. Buying fresh fruit, vegetablesand meat locally, rather than heavilypackaged and/or partially artificialconvenience foods, not only helps tosupport local farmers, but also reducesthe amount of packaging and transportinvolved, and is probably better foryou as well! For products you do buy insupermarkets, look for those with therecycling symbol (three arrows) onthem. (3) Using public transport, walking orcycling is more environmentallyfriendly than taking a car or a taxi.If you have to drive, try not to makejourneys with only one person in thecar; you are dragging round hundreds orthousands of kilogrammes of metal andplastic, at a huge cost in pollution,just to move less than 100kg of personfrom one place to another. In any case, avoid driving over 65mph;it is inefficient on fuel, and getsmore inefficient the faster you go.Ensure you have a catalytic converter;if possible, use unleaded petrol(pollution from leaded petrol causesbrain damage in children - unleaded ischeaper, too). It is also beneficial tobuy the smallest car that is sufficientfor your needs; and if possible, buy adiesel car. (4) Reducing the amount of power/fuelyou use to heat your home is alsoimportant - and will save you even moremoney now that VAT is to be added tofuel and electricity bills. If you canafford it in the short term, havingadequate loft insulation (5 inches orso) will save you HUGE amounts of moneyin the long term. Double-glazing allwindows is also very valuable. Keep asmany doors shut as possible, and turnoff radiators in rooms that are littleused. (5) You can also save large amounts ofelectricity on lighting. Don't sit inthe dark, but unless you're reading,it's unnecessary to have blazinglighting on; more than 100W of lightson in a room is excessive, and 60W ispreferable. When going out of a room for more thanthirty seconds, always TURN THE LIGHTSOFF, except for fluorescent lights,which should only be turned off ifyou're going out for five minutes ormore. Try to keep other electricalappliances off as much as possible too,though your Beeb consumes very littlepower compared to your lighting, solet's not go too far - lighting is mostimportant. The best way to save electricity, andlarge amounts of money, is to purchasethe new(-ish) Energy Efficient Bulbs,now widely on sale. Although these aremuch more expensive than normal bulbs,not only do they produce the sameamount of light for far lesselectricity, but they also last muchlonger before needing to be replaced.So the initial cost is greater, but inthe long run you will be savingyourself large amounts of money, andhelping to stop pollution. (6) One of the best ways to help theenvironment is to put pressure on thosewho pollute it and damage it withoutconsidering the consequences. Friendsof the Earth is one of the leadingenviromental pressure groups, with over300 local groups in Britain andnational organisations in 47 countriesworldwide. They campaign on a wide variety ofissues, including recycling, energyefficiency, air and water pollution,rain forest destruction etc., butoppose illegal or violent protests. Aswell as lobbying government andcommercial interests, they provide awide variety of information onenviromental issues to the public, sothat they too can help the environment.Joining FoE means you will receivetheir quarterly magazine, EarthMatters, which contains information andcomment on environmental issues, farmore searching than anything you willfind in the papers or elsewhere, andnews on what you can do for theenvironment, as well as updates onimportant campaigns. But more importantly, the money yougive to join will go towards theimportant environmental work that FoEdo. You can also arrange to giveadditional money to support their work,either by standing order, or by PAYEschemes, which mean you don't pay taxon the money you give to them. Fordetails of how to join, phone 0582482297, or contact me.