Live intentionally, be sustainable #1: If you think recycling is the main way to go, think twice!

Live intentionally, be sustainable #1: If you think recycling is the main way to go, think twice!

For the ones that are all about sustainability, this is not a shocking statement as reusing and reducing has become a way of living. For the ones still not so aware of the challenge we face to ensure our planet and ourselves will last, this may create some confusion. It’s not that you shouldn’t recycle but rather that recycling is not the immediate solution to really make a difference.

Currently, all over the planet, countries are struggling to increase their recycling quotas. Did you know that a lot of countries recycle less than 30% of everything an ordinary household sends to the recycle(s) bin(s)?

Yes, we’re doing it right to then do it all wrong at the end, unfortunately. For instance, the European Union has established a recycling quota of 50% by 2020, but a lot of countries are at risk of not meeting that goal. Even worse, some of those had initially been calculated their current quota considering what we send to recycling and not exactly what’s recycled. What’s the point on that?

So far, you’ve must have come to the conclusion that not everything that is recyclable is then recycled. Indeed, there are lots of reasons why this happen. In some cases, there’s not enough capacity, and so some of the recyclable waste goes back to an ordinary landfill. In other cases, a lot of items made of recycled material may be contaminated or too hard to recycle, so nobody cares enough to make sure we find safe and efficient ways to recycle them (e.g. plastic toothbrushes, tampon applicators, small and light items, black plastics in some cities, etc.). Also, some plastics can’t be recycled over and over and, worse, some companies/countries reject items if we didn’t wash them instead of ensuring they are cleaned when/after sorting them. On the other hand, some companies have also made public that it has been harder to sell back some of the recycled plastic, posing the already expected question of “why recycling then?”.

Please do continue recycling, but you should be focusing your attention and energy on the remaining R too: REUSE and REDUCE. And more importantly, RETHINK your consumption and waste patterns so that you can choose and decide smartly.

In the next blog posts, I’ll be sharing some behaviours and ideas we can all have in mind when following this motto. Even though we’re not able to be 100% perfect in saving our planet and getting healthier (yes, because some decisions and behaviours also affect our health!), we can all improve and do better 🙂 little by little. Also, living intentionally and being sustainable at the same time requires some trade-offs; it does not mean we’ll just stop doing everything that is bad for the environment but rather that we’ll find a balance between all ours values and enjoy the ride, doing good for us and for everyone else. In fact, we can’t destroy the economy to save the environment, nor we can’t destroy the environment to save the culture and the society, and so on… we just need to sustain good patterns and behaviours long-term so we don’t run out of everything that we need in all areas of our lives.

There are some helpful articles and posts online that you can easily find, but here are just some examples:

https://www.blogto.com/eat_drink/2019/04/recycle-black-plastic-toronto/
https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/10/know-black-plastic-cant-recycled-7619361/
https://www.publico.pt/2018/10/08/sociedade/noticia/comissao-europeia-poe-em-causa-numeros-da-reciclagem-em-portugal-1846301
https://globalnews.ca/news/5199883/canada-recycling-programs/
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-wish-cycling-canadas-recycling-industry-in-crisis-mode/
https://algarvedailynews.com/news/13420-exposed-portugal-s-waste-recycling-figures-have-been-fiddled-for-years

What about you? What do you think about prioritizing the other R before recycling? What actions are you taking to become more sustainable? Comment below 🙂

See you soon,
Andreia

2 Replies to “Live intentionally, be sustainable #1: If you think recycling is the main way to go, think twice!”

  1. I agree, we need to start with the basics from the grassroots and acknowledge that if we do one thing re-use or recycle or choose differently in the first instance then we have done something … However I believe that people would make more sustainable choices if there were more choices out there and I would be interested in your thoughts on my project Recycled-Cindy Poole. I have just completed a combined portfolio intro on what I am doing and ready to send it out… there is a basic intro on my website but if you want to know abit more then let me know – I love your basic rationalisation of how the little things that we do ultimately make the biggest difference… Im chipping away. I think we should all be supporting anything that anyone is doing that helps lower our negative environmental impact and not be guilty or judgemental about what we are not in a position or are not ready to do 🙂
    Provide new opportunities, incentives and lead by example.
    Cindy

    1. Thanks, Cindy, I’m glad more people share the same idea! I had a look at your project meanwhile, it seems super interesting… congrats for the work you’ve done so far!

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