Global Recycling Day: how to do your bit

Natural resources are running out, and recycling is more important than ever in preserving our planet.

Did you know recycling saves more than 700,000,000 tonnes in CO2 emissions? It plays a key role in saving our planet.

Global Recycling Day (18 March 2022) is all about coming together to recognise the importance of recycling in preserving our planet. 

But what can you do to help?

The facts

Let’s start with a quick quiz to get to grips with the facts we’re dealing with…

  1. 1 In 2017, how long did it take to use one year's worth of the planet's natural resources?

    1. 8 months
    2. 5 months
    3. 7 months

    It's 7 months!

    Natural resources are depleting quickly - recycling can help slow this down. 

    Source: Global Recycling Day

  2. 2 What percentage of plastic is not recycled?

    1. 91%
    2. 80%
    3. 72%

    91% of plastic created is not recycled...

    That means only 9% is recycled. Shocking, right? 

    Source: Global Recycling Day

  3. 3 The Statue of Liberty is covered with how many tonnes of partly recycled copper and bronze plating?

    1. 100 tonnes
    2. 80 tonnes
    3. 50 tonnes

    It's 80 tonnes!

    The metal was shipped from France to the USA.

    Source: Global Recycling Day

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How can I do my bit?

The Global Recycling Foundation have shared seven recycling promises you can make to play your part. 

  1. Use less plastic (e.g. reusable shopping bags, a reusable drinks bottle)
  2. Help people you know to follow the local recycling rules in you area (more on this below!)
  3. Repair and reuse old items if you can (e.g. clothes)
  4. Only put clean and dry items out for recycling 
  5. Share with friends online
  6. Check how to recycle other items (e.g. electronics)
  7. Don't forget to recycle packaging

An infographic sharing the seven recycling promises, which are typed out in the text just above this image. Source: Global Recycling Day

What can I recycle?

If you struggle with knowing what can and can't be recycled, don't panic! Just check the packaging of the product to see if it is recyclable, and if you're still not sure, check the recycling rules in your area. 

But make sure you don't 'wishcycle' - which is putting non-recyclable items in the recycling bin in the hope it'll be recyclable - as this can cause problems when it goes to be sorted (Earth Day). 

As a general rule, plastic bottles, metal cans, paper and cardboard can be recycled, but make sure they're clean and dry. Your recycling bin should be a food and drink free zone! Also make sure you don't put plastic bags in the recycling, and even better, try using reusable bags when you can in future (Waste Management).

Be careful of combined materials, like plastic-coated cardboard, as if they can't be separated it's likely they can't be recycled (Earth Day).

If you're in the UK, you can use this handy tool from Recycle Now to find out how to recycle a particular item - from hairdryers, to ironing boards, to clothing! Outside of the UK, check the recycling rules in your local area. 

A photograph of a person sorting plastic items into a plastic recycling bin.Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels

Go forth and recycle! 

Hopefully you've now got some ideas on how you can start recycling, or recycling more. Here's a collation of handy resources to help you on your way:

Happy Global Recycling Day!

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Lara Munday

Lara is a member of the OU Students Association staff team.

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