The three Rs made easy

2012-07-07 00:00

CAMERON Diaz, Leonardo di Caprio and George Clooney — these are only a few of the many celebrities who have jumped on the three Rs bandwagon of reduce, reuse and recycle.

These celebrities prove you do not have to be a tree-hugging, tofu-eating hippie to improve our current environmental situation. Anyone can make a contribution by simply using energy-efficient lightbulbs or separating rubbish and recycling it.

If Gisele Bundchen can set aside her Jimmy Choos and find time to separate her refuse, then so can the average South African.

Recycling should simply be a part of living in the 21st century. The fact that it is trendy and cool of course helps too, but this should not overshadow its environmental and economic importance.

“I think a lot of people are discouraged to recycle because they lack the basic knowledge of how to do so, they do not get paid to do it and it takes up a lot of time,” said Lauren Laing, the Wildlands Conservation Trust brand and communications manager.

To promote recycling in South Africa, Plastics SA initiated a “Recycling Day” on September 14. The Recycling Day website provides South Africans with the knowledge to start recycling in homes, schools and offices.

Tips provided on

the website are:

• Wet and dry waste should be kept apart. Dry waste is recyclable and should be emptied. For example, milk should be emptied out of its bottle.

• Make recycling a habit for everyone in the household or office by letting people know what can be recycled.

• Contact the municipality to find out what is recyclable and where it can be dropped off (some places pay for recyclables).

• Set up boxes or bins to put recyclables into. Flatten bottles, cartons and boxes to save space.

• Accumulate a large amount of recyclables and drop them off in one trip to save time and fuel.

The website mywaste.co.za, show users where they can find their nearest recycling centre by simply typing in their address. Of course, recycling is not just about separating rubbish — there is far more to it than that.

“Recyclable waste like paper, glass and plastic should not be disregarded as dirty but rather seen as items of value that can be recycled or reused. Recycling can create functional items for people to use,” explained Megan Lewis of groundwork SA, a non-profit environmental organisation.

Nike took this idea seriously and made the U.S. and Brazilian football teams’ kits for the 2010 Fifa World Cup entirely out of plastic bottles found in Japanese and Taiwanese landfills. South Africans have followed suit as this year’s Durban July theme, “A Material World”, turned the focus on “sustainably harvested, natural, organic” materials.

Julie James, a fine arts specialist, created a “green” dress for this year’s Durban July. The dress is made from recyclable materials only, such as old paper, printer cartridges and paper doilies. Creative recycling is not reserved for artists and experts though.

Here are a few simple, cost-efficient ways to creatively recycle in the home:

• Aluminium cans can be turned into pot plant holders.

• Cardboard tubes left over from paper towels and toilet paper towels can make useful storage containers for those annoying extension cords.

• Old greeting cards lying around the house can be made into DIY wreaths.

• Old plastic and glass bottles can be filled with clear oil and food colouring to make cheap and energy-efficient lava lamps.

• Old licence plates, records and aluminum cans, when given a creative touch, can be turned into handbags, vases or fruit bowls.

• Spraypaint used tin cans and knock some holes into the bottoms for drainage and plant plants in them.

• Tyres can be painted, filled with soil and used as planters or stacked to make earth wall retainers.

The Msunduzi Kerbside Programme, initiated in 2009, collects recyclable waste directly from residents’ verges free if charge. Rubbish is placed in orange bags, which are available from Central Waste, and collected on the same day as municipal refuse collection. Central Waste can be contacted on 033-3970758.

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