Most of us are becoming increasingly aware of the unsustainable nature of the way most of the things we buy, especially food and drink, is currently packaged and the consequences this is having on wildlife, marine life and the planet in general.
We can all help this by Reducing the amount of plastics and packaging we bring home, by shopping at markets, reusing bags and providing our own containers at Deli counters for example. Also by choosing glass, metal or paper containers whenever possible as these can be recycled infinitely, unlike plastics. Even so, There are still likely to be some things we need to dispose of. Before we throw these in the bin howeve,r the next simple step is to think about reusing. Bread bags for example can be used as sandwich bags, or dog poop bags. Large crisp packets can be used to line small bins or to keep crackers or biscuits fresh. Ice cream tubs can store left overs in the fridge or freezer, or dried goods like rice and cereals etc. Once you get into the habit it is surprising how many times something you once merely threw away can be used before it is finally discarded. There is plenty of information available online to help you get started. Simply type - Reducing my single use plastic into the search bar and you are on your way.
With the state of the worlds oceans being regularly highlighted in both the news and documentaries like Blue Planet 2 the need for us all to stop seeing this as a something only tree huggers and vegans would do is vital. According to a study undertaken by the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey and Company a full 38% of the 78 million tonnes of plastic produced world wide annually is left to flow into our oceans; Which is the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute. This problem is well and truly on our doorstep with WWF quoting that the Mediterranean contains only 1% of the worlds waters and 7 % of global micro plastics (fragments smaller than 5mm ) We can no longer ignore the issue, it is time to change our thinking and start practicing environmentally friendly ways of shopping and dealing with our waste.
If we have got something in our home that can’t be reused the third option we have to reduce landfill is to recycle.
Unlike the UK (and other European countries) waste in Spain is not collected from each individual home. I suspect mostly because most of us live on urbanisations but also because of the intense heat which would mean bins would be stinking if not emptied daily. So instead, near to each area there are communal bins. In some places your nearest containers might be Grey rubbish bins rather than those for recycling. However with a bit of investigation you will soon find them. Especially near towns, supermarkets or banks. So with a little pre planning you can pop your separated items in when you go past.
National Geographic state “In 2017 almost 30% of items put into the Yellow (plastic and Aluminium) containers were deposited incorrectly” This mixing of materials renders the sorting and recycling process unprofitable. Basically meaning, mix it too much and it all goes to landfill. In order to give things a chance of being recycled, we need to separate our waste products properly. So, What goes where?
Yes - Glass bottles, jars and glass containers. No – Mirrors, light bulbs and drinking glasses. *NOTE Lightbulbs are often collected in supermarkets.
Yes – Paper, cardboard boxes and egg boxes, newspapers and magazines. No – Foil and mixed materials. *NOTE Tetra pack and Brick cartons typically for juice and milk are made of 5 layers of 3 different materials and go into the YELLOW topped containers.
Yes – Plastic bottles, drink cans, tins, plastic trays and food wrappers (these should be clean) aluminium trays and tetra pack style cartons. No – Batteries, rubber gloves, most non food plastics like flower pots etc *NoteBatteries are often collected in supermarkets
Domestic cooking oil. Pour your old oil (once cool) into a plastic bottle and put on the lid first, then put the bottle into the red container.
Other non recyclable items and food waste go into the more commonly found Grey topped containers.
Did you know?
Glass can be 100% recycled, endlessly with no loss in purity or quality. By recycling 3 glass bottles we save enough production energy to charge a smart phone for 1 year and also prevent the extraction of new raw materials and reduce CO2 emissions. www.ecovidrio.es
My work this year with Coastal Cleaners Andalucia has shown me first hand just how serious this problem really is. We have removed over 700 bags of litter from the local coastline in just 9 months. Rather than just continually clearing up other peoples litter and mess however, CCA are working on a number of projects to raise awareness and help reduce the amount of litter and land fill being created. One of which is focussed on recycling and aims to get basic information into a large number of holiday apartments and expat homes in this area to help people to recycle correctly while in Spain. The project will be funded by advertising and provides an excellent opportunity for local business to be seen by multiple occupants over a number of years while supporting our work at the same time. If you are interested in this or in joining CCA for any of our regular beach cleans and events, please search for Coastal Cleaners Andalucia online and get in touch.
Written by Suzanne Parmenter-Phillips Founder of CCA.