Bin the packaging

ROSEMARY HARPER is a Palmyra resident and is passionate about the environment. If you thought Melville city council’s introduction of weekly recycling collections was a great idea, think again. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED, Rosemary says there’s a smarter way of going about it.

I was dismayed to read Melville council is actually going ahead with a weekly recycling bin pick up.

This is a retrograde step. I accept the council is endeavouring to lessen the amount of waste going into landfill.

However, what the council should be doing is encourage businesses and householders to use less packaging. It also needs to ensure that people place the packaging in the correct bin in the correct manner and they actually know which is the correct bin.

Many items are packaged in a manner that is aimed at attracting the eye of the purchaser rather than for health and safety reasons.

Manufacturers should be encouraged to minimise packaging and purchasers alerted that less is best. Purchase the item with the least packaging.

In discussions with friends and acquaintances I have very rarely come across anyone who understands the correct procedure for distribution of household “waste”.

Having been on a tour of the recycling and waste disposal centre some years ago I learned that everything that cannot be composted goes in the yellow-top bin. Packaging such as plastic milk bottles are meant to be squashed so more fit in the bin, likewise cardboard cartons.

Back to the earth

Wet stuff placed in the yellow-top bin has the power to contaminate a whole truckload of potential recyclables. Everything that can go back to the earth safely goes into the green bin.

Plastic bags never break down so kitchen food waste bins should be lined with thick layers of newspaper which will break down in the composting process.

The fact is everything we do has some effect on the earth and the environment.

Huge areas have to be excavated to make way for rubbish tips.

There is always the threat of groundwater contamination.

In WA bauxite is mined south of Perth and aluminium made from it.

Iron is mined up north for the manufacture of steel. Paper is made out of trees from our forests. Oil is used for plastic, fuel and numerous other things.

Think of all the energy used and resulting pollution as raw materials are shipped abroad for manufacture, shipped back, transported around the country, used once then deemed “worth nothing”—at what cost!

All of these processes affect the environment.

Many items are sent offshore to “developing countries” to be broken down into recyclable components. For instance mobile phones and computers are sent from some countries to Africa where the breaking up is done manually in very primitive conditions with severe health impacts to the workers and the environment.

If consumers thought before they bought, we would not have “one-use” items filling bins.

Is it really that difficult to remember to take pre-used plastic or carrier bags when you go shopping? You can take pre-used plastic or paper bags to some health food shops and grocers and fill them yourself. It’s often a cheaper way of purchasing.

Take a mug

What about taking a mug for morning coffee? If you purchase hot coffee have the courage to insist the provider fills the mug and not a “disposable”. It will taste better too.

Use an upturned plate when covering food instead of cling wrap. (It’s a healthier alternative).

Is it really necessary to use a “throw away” aluminium baking dish just because of a bit of grease?

Instead of using paper or plastic plates, try washing dishes after a gathering. It can even become a sociable event in itself when others help out!

Perhaps the Herald could start a column for readers to contribute environmentally friendly (and as a result economically friendly) ideas.

It seems it may be too late to stop the purchase of new trucks for this weekly recycling, but it is the right time now to think about where we are going and to turn our over-use of resources around.

It’s up to all of us. There are monetary as well as environmental gains.

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