Recycling Plastic

As much as we want to and put our minds to it, plastic is everywhere. I found it everywhere in my house, even though we have been trying to be “plastic free” for I would say 5-6 months.

PET or PETE 1 (polyethylene terephthalate)

This is single use plastic; it is the most commonly used as it is inexpensive, lightweight and easy to recycle. Found mostly in bottles (water, soft drinks, beer, mouthwash). It is generally recyclable.

In Surrey, we can put these types of plastic bottles in the recycling bin. A perfect example is the HP sauce bottle, it is clearly marked on the bottom as PET 1.

HDPE 2 (high density polyethylene)

Commonly used in packaging. Found in milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach, detergent, other household cleaner bottles, shampoo bottles, shopping bags, butter and yogurt tubs, cereal box liners. It is generally recyclable.

V (vinyl) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) 3

This is tough and it is used for piping, siding and similar applications. PVC is cheap, so can be found in plenty of products and packaging. Never burn PVC as it releases toxins given its high content of chlorine. Found in shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, wire jacketing, siding, windows, piping. Rarely recycled.

I turned the house inside out and couldn’t find anything with this mark “3”. I will have another look at windows tomorrow with light. Shampoo bottles have no sign at all (just the two arrows intertwining in a circle) or HDPE 2.

In Surrey, items in a reusable condition or working order can be donated to a local charity or some DIY construction waste could be taken to local community recycling centres (disposal charge may be applied). Shepperton, Leatherhead, Epson and Woking Community Recycling Centres take limited number of these.

LDPE 4 (low density polyethylene)

Flexible plastic. Squeezable bottles, bread bags, frozen food bags, dry cleaning bags, shopping and tote bags. Not often recycled. It is widely used for manufacturing various containers, dispensing bottles, wash bottles, tubing, plastic parts for computer components and various molded laboratory equipment. Its most common use is in plastic bags.

In Surrey, plastic bags have very little information and some can be taken to larger supermarket to be recycled with other plastic bags.

As for what to do with these drinking bottles – in Surrey, if someone has any idea, please illustrate me! My guess is that it is recyclable. The second item in the pictures, a delivery bag, can be recycled – but not in Surrey.

According to surreycc.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/recycling-search-tool plastic bags (one category only) can be lined up in your food waste collection caddy. Large supermarkets have plastic bag recycling bins. Test your bag – if it is stretchable it is recyclable. If it snaps or springs when scrunched, it is not recyclable.

PP 5 (polypropylene)

It has a high melting point, so it is often used for containers that must take hot liquid. Found in some yogurt containers, syrup and medicine bottles, caps, straws. Not generally recycled, but gradually more accepted.

In Surrey, yogurt pots are clearly recyclable. In the search within the app or the website, the Sistema containers seem not be recylable. In connection to the children’s bowl – the category is quite bizarre, as it is not clear if you can recycle it or not – but, a “washing up bowl” made of plastic, would be accepted if you took it to a Community Recycling Centre (Shepperton, Leatherhead, Lyne (Chertsey), Epsom or Woking). I don’t have a washing up bowl, but if they are marked with PP 4, then I would give the same treatment to children’s dishes marked like this.

PS 6 (polystyrene)

Polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products (styrofoam). Scary fact that maybe we all know: contains styrene monomer and styrene oxide, known or probable carcinogens. Difficult to recycle, most places still won’t accept it in foam forms. Found in: disposable plates and cups, meats trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles and CHILDREN’S CAR SEATS!

Polystyrene is not recyclable, so you can put this in your normal bin in Surrey or elsewhere. And for those with kids… regulations indicate that you should not buy second-hand car seats, but…

7 (Miscellaneous)

Plastic resins that don’t fit into the previous categories are lumped into number 7. Materials as polycarbonate, polylactic acid. Found in some water bottles, sunglasses, DVDs, iPods, computer cases, signs and displays, some food containers, nylon. Traditionally, not recycled, but gradually increasing.

In Surrey, this (I think!) is gradually being accepted as recyclable. But both the app and website for looking into specific things has a lot of work to be done (even though it is great as it is!). I couldn’t find whether to recycle the below bag or not. I have recycled it – so forgive me if I am making a completely uneducated bad choice!

So, another important thing – surreyp.org.uk has got a very interesting page with “What happens to your recycling?”, I will actually talk about this in a different blog.

I guess my conclusion is to call for all products that are made out of plastic to put the category perfectly clear. I found many many many products in my house that neither have the triangle or circle with the arrows, nor the waste bin symbol. I also call the Surrey recycling centres to maybe define whether a plastic product is recyclable or not, based on the numbers. More information, more education, less waste!

I found out that some companies are very clear, like Sistema, and if you go to their website they have a very good sustainability plan that targets the New Zealand company to be Zero net carbon by 2050. Unfortunately, I still wouldn’t know what to do with their water bottle above!

All producers, big or small should consider having an onsite recycling programme of their own old, used or broken products.

Consumers should have the mindset of first of all, reducing consumption. Then, reusing what we have and own. Lastly, recycling what we can.

My idea and target is, from now on, to avoid buying things that are not recyclable. If they are, buy less of it – because the process of recycling is per se a carbon emission process.

Full sources:

This blog contains a lot of information directly copied from the Good Housekeeping article. I just incorporated what Surrey Council is doing.

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/recycling-search-tool

https://sistemaplastics.com/about/sustainable-focus

Step 3 of many: less plastic revolution

This is an extensive subject. Starting with bags for shopping to everyday products.

1. Bags for shopping. We have fabric reusable bags that we always have in the car. I always carry a fabric bag with me just in case.

When we forget, we use the ones that we can put back in the bin provided by supermarkets.

Sometimes I pass them down to someone who forgot to bring bags!

Start saying no to any bags given by shops.

Did you know that most supermarkets just change damaged bags if you bought them there?

2. Drinks in plastic bottles is a no. No matter whether they are recyclable or not. We should just stop consuming things.

This is perhaps the hardest, as it I plied carrying 4 water bottles to refill anywhere. 2 coffee mugs in the mornings it as family.

In warmer days, it is impossible for me not to want a Frappuccino!

As I said, we are still work in progress. Sometimes I can’t help it. And I end up buying that one moccha frappuccino from Starbucks.

Starbucks by the way, is still way behind! They still have plastic straws, plastic cups, loads of plastic wrapped sandwiches, etc.

3. Definitely less single use plastic plates and cutlery. We bought some little boxes with plastic cutlery.

We bought these at Garsons in Esher, brand Sistema.

Very handy and small, we carry them everywhere!

We bought some plates and cups which we take if we go to a picnic.

We will definitely not use single plastic (or paper) plates and cups for children’s parties every again! Or we will try at least!

4. Home cleaning products – we have been storing the bottles of home cleaning liquids with a spraying nozzle.

We started with buying biodegradable liquids in recyclable containers.

Now we will be using these home cleaning liquids in sachets which you simply dilute in water!

5. Personal hygiene products.

Shampoo – we source our shampoo (a very new thing) from Born From Necessity. It is a bar that smells gloriously and it is ok.

Soaps – we either source them from a lady at our girls’ school or from Born From Necessity.

Female hygiene – I stopped using dailies, pads and tampons. I have a collection of underwear specialised to endure women’s period and leaks. I got them online from modibodi.co.uk.

They are designed and produced in the UK, which helps with not having transport related pollution, and I only need to wash them!

I have just started trying the cup. Not yet sure about it, but my periods are almost completely gone since having an intrauterine device to have no more kids!

Toothbrushes – no plastics! All bamboo made toothbrushes. We still have some plastic toothbrushes left. In time, we will try to reuse them for crafts!

When having to dispose of our old way, we are trying really hard to make it responsibly.

We always check the Surrey website before recycling.

6. Children’s toys! Pffffff this is a difficult one and maybe the hardest of all. We will be limiting plastic toys. We will.

I might write more on this when it comes to my mind.

Step 2 of many: Sourcing grains and pulses from local shops selling without plastic bags

We used to buy quinoa, cous cous, rice, beans and chickpeas in any supermarket where they come in little plastic bags.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

The bags are generally not recyclable.

The boxes with risotto are recyclable, but you need to take the little window off (as that is made of non-recyclable plastic).

The tetrapak for pulses is not recyclable in our county Surrey.

You would think that tetrapak is widely recyclable everywhere, wouldn’t you?

For Surrey recycling, check this website:

We heard of a shop in East Molesey called Born From Necessity.

They sell all these things from jars.

We bought our recyclable jars (in fairness, we should have reused some jars, but hey! We were quite new to this idea!).

We made a list of what we normally need, and boom! We have our staples to eat beans, chickpeas and rice with loads of veggies!

1. This contributes to the idea of sourcing local produce. Less transport related pollution.

2. Less conservatives in food.

3. MUCH less waste!!!!!!

We are still working towards perfection.

Sometimes, we just run out of time and we need to buy the things from supermarket (mostly beans), but hey! It has happened less than twice a month so far!

We just have to persevere!

Practice makes the master, right?

Step 1 of many: Eating less meat

Growing up in a meat lovers family means I do love a good steak. I love a good Argentinian restaurant or a good burger!

But.

It is a big ‘but’.

We went from consuming chicken, beef, pork, etc. all 7 days in a week to a ‘maybe’ during the weekend.

We now eat vegetarian meals all week long and let me tell you – I feel as satisfied, and it is as yum.

Since having our first daughter we are members of Hello Fresh, a meals plan company that delivers us 3 recipes, with exact ingredients and quantities to be able to prepare our own meals during the week.

They are quite handy as we don’t have to plan or buy anything.

Sometimes, we get really bored of having to spend a long time cooking, so we take long breaks from it.

We started ordering a Sainsbury’s delivery every Sunday.

However, having to plan your meals, booking a delivery spot on time, completing the online order on time, being at home by the delivery time, etc – it just doesn’t work too well when you have two kids, both of whom are invited to birthday parties all the time.

My husband and I are very good at excel spreadsheets – so, we basically designed a meals and shopping list spreadsheet.

We just have to randomly choose a recipe, put a “1”, and voila! We have a shopping list which we can copy-paste into Sainsbury’s’ multiple products search!

It is hard work when you are “copying” the list of ingredientes for each meal, but trust me… that time is saved in the future!

Anyway. Back to the subject.

So, now we do vegetarian meals during the week. We have reduced our meat intake for some reasons:

1. Animal cruelty is a result of demand, so… we are contributing towards less demand.

2. Massive production means more air pollution – did you know that the cows’ excrement produces certain gas (methane) that pollutes the air?

3. We source the meat we eat locally from a farm shop (Garsons in Esher). This means less carbon footprint (they don’t need to transport it for miles!).

4. Eating more veggies is healthier! Besides, there are less unwanted additives (crap) that they possibly inject to the animals!

5. We enjoy the meat we eat more than ever – it is better quality and we don’t waste it!

We soon realised that buying our meats from Garsons or the local butcher is far more expensive.

You will see this trend going on for everything.

I am hoping that as more people start making a shift, the prices of locally sourced things will go down to be able to compete with massive supermarkets.

Introduction

Hi! I live in Surrey – specifically Walton on Thames. We are a normal family – dad, mum, 2 kids and a dog.

Both my husband and I grew up as any other kid. He grew up in Yorkshire, and I was born and bred in Mexico City, Mexico.

Perhaps as many of you, I grew up with everything I could wish for and more. I never really thought of consuming less meat – I mean, did you need to kill cows for that!? Never thought of all the implications of having a good meaty diet, of buying any kind of products from a big supermarket, of using plastic bags once. Hell! I never even thought about recycling as something to do in my own house!

I am not sure about England – whether recycling has always been on the agenda. But surely, this for me is kind of new.

Yes, we separate and have separated our waste for ages now. But really, a wide opening event for me – watching a girl’s video on living with Zero Waste.

Zero waste. What is this!? Is this even a thing?

Well, it turns out the planet we live on, has been used at humans’ desires without limitations. Without “immediate consequences”. In less than a couple of centuries, humans have gone from small levels of pollution, to significantly increase these. With industrial revolution it just escalated. The discovery of nuclear energy brings it up a notch or two. Basically, everything humans have been doing, is contributing to our progress and development without a doubt – but it brings these at a very high cost.

I remember that in Mexico City, they put in place a “Hoy no circula” programme to counteract air pollution. This basically meant that every car had to not be driven for at least a day every week.

Other programmes around the world have been put in place of course. Many global agreements have been drafted and are in place to avoid high levels of contaminants being thrown into our air.

Yet, we are where we are today. Everybody seems to be concerned and doing something.

We should change. Individually. As a group. As a society. All should change.

This girl in the video made a research of landfills in her area. She learned how to make compost and she started eating non-packaged food.

Then I started hearing that this and that person was “vegan”. What is that? I remember one of my friends use to say “do not trust vegans”. LOL. Well. Now I am convinced vegans were onto something.

Whatever your call is for change. Do it.

Mine was everything I see, read or hear.

So, I will record everything about my life and how I have changed it. Are you ready? Follow me because I can talk for ages and ages!