Updated: Feb 12
Ever been daunted by the thought of how much waste your household is producing? I've definitely been there (and live there still some days!) The fact is that the way society is structured makes it really tricky to live waste free, but each of us has the opportunity to make little steps to adjust our lifestyle as we learn to live a bit more consciously.
Learning how to reduce our consumption is definitely the first priority when it comes to conscious living and learning to re-use is also paramount, as is replacing wasteful and single-use items with more sustainable alternatives, but what about those items that you already have which are clearly at the end of their useful lives? Especially when they don't fit in any of the categories listed on your recycling bins at home! Well, it may take a bit more effort and being organised, but the good news is that there are solutions to some of those recycling dilemmas! And to make it easier for you, we've done some research so you can know where and how to get some niche recycling done here in Australia.
For starters, have you discovered Swedish Stockings Conscious Pantyhose as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional hosiery? When you purchase from Swedish Stocking's range of tights and socks you are buying products that are already a part of the recycling journey as they are made from up to 100% recycled nylon yarns such as Econyl, Q-Nova and Nilit Eco-Care. These yarns are derived from post-consumer and post-production waste, including highly problematic abandoned "ghost nets" in the ocean. In some styles, other regenerated materials are also used, such as up-cycled cotton and P.E.T in our Polly Innovations Tights.
But what do you do with hosiery that is no longer fit to wear? The usual charity bin route is not an option because people are just not browsing Vinnies for your ripped pantyhose ( as hard as it may be to believe!) This is why millions of pairs of tights end up in landfill every year. You may have heard that plastics (which nylon is a form of) never decompose, but the reality is even worse: they very very slowly break down into micro-plastic particles which leach into waterways and soil*. However, Swedish Stockings are also champions for the closed-loop production process and from the start have collected old hosiery to be recycled into various other products at the end of their life! Here in Australia, Sustainable Hosiery has teamed up with awesome slow fashion brand MANRAGS to provide a local recycling solution not only for your hosiery but for other textiles as well! The process is easy: simply collect up to 10kgs of your unwanted clothing and book a pick-up service for $25 which is fully redeemable on purchases over $75 in our online store. Head here to find out more about the program. The items collected are sorted into what can be donated to charity and what is unusable is recycled into useful materials such as soft-fall surfaces and insulation.
* Concerned about the impact of micro-plastics on our oceans? You can do your part to minimise their effect in your washing cycle by washing synthetics in the Guppyfriend Washbag. Guppyfriend helps to filter out and collect micro-waste, but also helps to make your delicates last longer.
2. Coffee Pods
Although the invention of coffee pod machines have been a boon for coffee-lovers at home, the by-product of aluminium and plastic waste is not so much for the environment. These popular products can't be recycled in your normal collection so you can imagine how many of them are sitting in landfill right now! Fortunately, several brands of pods can now be recycled through Terracycle - visit their website for details related to recycling specific brands. I would recommend scraping out the contents of your pods and adding them to your compost bin or even directly to the soil as a rich source of nitrogen for your garden. Spreading cofeee grounds on the surface of soil can also be a deterrent for pests such as slugs. While you're on the computer visiting Terracycle to recycle your existing pods, why not check out shops like Eco Caffe to support Australian owned brands that make compostable pods instead.
It always surprises me the amount of bicycles that I see piled up for hard refuse collection across the suburbs of Sydney. Thankfully some of them get scooped up and given a second lease of life (we've even been known to make a quick quid taking them home and selling them on!) but I hate to think about all the bikes that made it to landfill. If only more people knew about a wonderful organisation called the Cycle Recycle Club - or also known as The Nunnery Bike Workshop. CRC is a community based group of enthusiastic bike minded people who gratefully receive pre-loved or abandoned bikes, parts and accessories to help make a working bike to go back into the community. Volunteers work alongside people from the local community, sharing their mechanical knowledge and showing them how to use tools to recycle discarded and pre-loved bicycles and to repair and maintain them afterwards. All aimed at increasing the use of bikes in and around Sydney. This is such a great initiative as not only does it keep bikes out of landfill (even broken and abandoned ones as they use them for parts and scrap metal) but connects people from the community and provides for the disadvantaged!
4. Take-Away Coffee Cups
Many people know that take-away cups for both hot and cold drinks are very problematic when it comes to recycling largely due to the lining that they are sealed with. The very best
solution is to bring a reusable cup with you as a zero-waste option. You may have noticed though that since the outbreak of Covid 19, many cafes are refusing reusable cups in an effort to minimise risks of transmission which is a shame as the movement towards reusable take-away cups was gaining lots of mainstream traction. Short of only dining in or bringing from home, the next best option is to look for new generation recyclable cups.
Another option is the Simply Cups program pioneered by sustainability leaders, Closed Loop. Simply Cups partners with businesses, community organisations and schools to provide recycling collection stations for take-away cups of all brands and types. They even make a reusable cup called the rCup which is made from the disposable cups they recycle - how's that for a circular economy?!
This is one that really makes me shudder because it seems like at every council clean-up each house has at least one mattress out on the street! According to Planet Ark , each year 1.25 million mattresses are sent to landfill and each mattresses takes up 0.75 cubic metres of space in landfill - that's in Australia alone!
The good news is that there is a phenomenal organisation called Soft Landings who will collect and recycle the components of your old mattress for a small fee. It is truly amazing to learn about all the different purposes that each mattress component is put to through the efforts of Soft Landings. And their good work does not stop just with environmental sustainability - they currently employ over 150 people, 75% of which had significant barriers to gaining employment prior to working with them.
Its our vision to see as many people as possible getting behind these recycling initiatives and propelling more innovation to create a circular economy in Australia. Please share this article and spread the word to let everyone know about the awesome work these organisations are doing and if you have any recycling tips to share, please comment below!