Reuse & Recycling

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5 ways to help put a stop to waste culture

We may not realise it, but we have become a more wasteful society over the last few years. According to the most recent government statistics, a four-year decline in household waste was bucked in 2014, when total of 26.8 million tonnes of waste was produced by British homes.

At Clearance Solutions, we are committed to our eco-friendly house clearance service, and we endeavour to clear pretty much everything, through the most environmentally-conscious methods available. However, it doesn’t begin and end with us. Here are five ways that you can help put a stop to the UK’s rising culture of unnecessary waste:

1. Recycle properly…

We’ve already offered some useful tips on effective recycling, but our advice somehow hasn’t improved the UK’s current recycling rate, which is unlikely to meet the EU’s union-wide 2020 target. Recent stats have shown that landfill disposal has reduced by 71% in the last fifteen years, however recycling seems to have slowed down more recently, following rapid growth at the start of the last decade. The government is currently in favour of devolving recycling legislation to local authorities, with voluntary, incentivised schemes rather than formal targets.

Ultimately, the primary motive for recycling is the positive impact it would have on the environment. Now that we live in an age of energy-friendly lightbulbs and 5p plastic bags, there’s no reason we can’t put more thought into how getting rid of paper, plastic and anything else in a more considered way.

2. …and that includes food

Over 3 and a half million tonnes of consumable food and drink is thrown away annually by British households, with the ensuing carbon footprint of this waste being more than double that of the United States’ transport industry. You may not need to go as far as the Yorkshire-based brewery behind a zero-waste beer to do your part to help, though.

Local councils are increasingly engaged in regular food waste collection as part of their regular recycling services. Meanwhile, support for grassroots campaigns to prevent supermarket chains from disposing of products which are misshapen or on the verge of their sell-by date has grown considerably in recent months. Tesco have even capitalised on this by branding some of their fresh fruit and vegetables under the banner “Perfectly Imperfect”.

3. Ask yourself if someone else might have a use for it

Upcycling, which is reported to account for between 5 and 40% of the UK’s craft industry, is possibly the most exciting way to find a new use for anything from old household items and clothes to phone booths. Although it has been used since the nineties, “upcycling” was only added to the dictionary in 2014. The rise of platforms such as Preloved, Ikea Hackers or Upcycle That is proof that the practical reuse of items that you might have previously taken to the tip is here to stay. Even if you may not have any ideas yourself, there’s almost certainly someone else who will.

4. Don’t do it alone

One way to do your part to prevent the spread of waste culture is to get other, like-minded people involved. Sites like Freecycle and Gumtree are extremely useful community-based platforms to find and get rid of unwanted items of any description in your local area. Alternatively, get your friends, colleagues or housemates involved in order to make waste reduction a project where you live or work.

5. You can pretty much recycle anything

As recycling becomes a more integral part of life, particularly when compared with the ecologically unsound alternatives, means are being found to safely recycle a bigger range of items. From batteries to books, carpets to clothes (did you know you only wear 44% of your wardrobe?), almost anything can be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way. It doesn’t take much research to find out the best method of getting rid of your old or unwanted stuff.

But if you do want some assistance, that’s what we’re here for. Explore our website to find out how we undertake house and office clearances in the most eco-friendly ways available, and get in touch with us today for a free quote.

How to recycle more effectively

For better or worse, recycling has firmly taken root in today’s society as a must-do. Many of us have a list, or at least an idea, of what can and can’t be recycled. And those that recycle also tend to enjoy doing their part to help the environment. As an environmentally motivated house clearance company, preventing
the unnecessary addition of reusable materials to the waste stream is one of Clearance Solutions’ highest priorities, so we know this feeling well.

What you may not know is that the condition of your donations will determine how your efforts pay off.
Even widely recycled materials like aluminium, steel, paper and plastic can easily become contaminated and end up in a landfill site.

To avoid wasting your time and good intentions, we present to you an updated guide on recycling correctly.

 

 

  • Step 1: Recycle plastic bags separately

    You might think plastic bags are convenient for gathering all your recyclable material together. However, plastic bags can be an unpredictable and time-consuming nightmare for those sorting at the recycling plant.

    If you have a habit of putting all your aluminium cans into a plastic bag and tying it up before you hand it in, stop now. You could be wasting your time because plastic bags are routinely thrown away, even if they are filled.

    Plastic bags slow down the automated recycling process. This is because human sorters have to individually open them up and then dispose of the bags, thus making the process more difficult.

    Plastic bags are a bane to our environment: they litter the landscape and threaten wildlife. There’s a good reason why supermarkets charge for each plastic bag used in the UK.

    Rather than throwing out a plastic bag or ruining your recycling batch, the ideal option is to recycle them separately. There are plenty of plastic bag recycling programmes held by the government and many supermarkets feature a plastic bag bin specifically for recycling this difficult material. As for your other unwanted items, read our blog on how to save money on your house clearance.

  • Step 2: Try not to shred paper

    Back in the infant years of recycling, shredded paper was difficult to recycle and often ended up in landfill. Since then, recycling plants have improved and now shredded paper is usually properly recycled. However this doesn’t mean you should shred your sheets at every opportunity.

    Shredding is sometimes unavoidable, especially when dealing with private documents. But you should not be doing it solely to fit more into a recycling bin.

    If the pieces of paper are too small, some recycling centres will not accept them and even those that do have to lower the quality of what it can be recycled into. The length of the paper fibre determines if it can be recycled into high-grade material such as useful printer paper or low-grade material.

    Leaving paper outside, or exposing it to the elements could also alter how much of it gets recycled. Paper left out in the rain can have its organic material broken down, which is why many recycling bins feature lids that are sealed until manual intervention.

  • Step 3: Compress bottles and put the lid back on

    Should you keep bottle lids on or remove them? It’s a simple question that has generated a lot of confusion.

    The previously recommended method was removing them. This is because bottle tops are normally made of polypropylene. This polymer tends to melt at a higher temperature  compared to the rest of most plastic bottles.

    Another reason was because uncompressed bottles with lids on were dangerous in the early stages of recycling. The compression of an air-packed bottle often resulted in bottle caps being propelled at high speed, which was seen as a clear health risk.

    The recycling process has improved since then and it is now okay to keep lids on bottles. In fact, it is now advisable to leave them on because bottle caps handed in separately could be placed into general waste if missed during screening.

    One of the most helpful ways to recycle bottles is to squash the air out, and then place the lid back on. This way there is neither water nor air inside.

  • Step 4: Keep cardboard and your other recyclables clean

    While cardboard is recyclable, grease can damage the cardboard and render it impossible to recycle.

    This means you also need to avoid placing foods, liquids and animal wastes in your recycling bin as it can contaminate the rest of the recyclable materials.

    Newspapers used to hold your order of chips and most cardboard take-away boxes are better placed into a normal bin or a compost bin.

  • Step 5: Read your local recycling guide

    While this advice applies to most areas, each will have its own recycling guide and some may accept materials others do not. To be sure you are not wasting your time recycling something that cannot be, or contaminating good material – it’s well worth reading your area’s recycling guide.

The Three Rs & the Difference Between Recycling & Reusing

When looking into environmental sustainability, cutting consumption or reducing rubbish during a house clearance, it’s more than likely that you’ll come across the following Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. These three words describe the core components of environmentally-responsible consumer behaviour.

But as UK children are now learning at school, there are in fact six Rs that product designers must keep in mind regarding the environment. The extra Rs are rethink, refuse and repair, and they encourage creating environmentally-friendly products which are built to last.

Ultimately, this points towards the fact that recycling, while preferable to producing landfill waste, should actually be the second priority after reusing.

What is the difference between reuse and recycling?

Recycling means turning an item into raw materials which can be used again, usually for a completely new product. This is an energy consuming procedure.

Reusing refers to using an object as it is without treatment. This reduces pollution and waste, thus making it a more sustainable process.

Examples of recycled items include fibreglass made from glass bottles, and insulation materials made from newspaper or plastic bottles. Reused items include anything that was bought second hand, often furniture and clothing

Recycling can still produce waste and pollution

Recycling reduces waste disposal by transforming useful materials such as plastic, glass and paper into new products. In 2013 and 2014, UK households recycled about 44% of their rubbish.

Although recycling has been a staple of sustainable living for decades, it does have some downsides. A large amount of energy is needed to transport, process and reassemble recyclable materials. Particularly in the UK, recycling can still be a very expensive process. And in some cases, especially with mobile phones and other electronic devices, it can be difficult.

Find tips on how to recycle more effectively here.

Any item in good condition can be reused

The reusing process is not about repurposing the materials an object is made of, but repurposing the very object itself. This includes buying and selling used goods and repairing items rather than discarding them. There are also lots of online platforms that can aid this through allowing users to borrow, rent or sell any unwanted items that are still in good condition.

Reusing is better than recycling because it saves the energy that comes with having to dismantle and re-manufacture products. It also significantly reduces waste and pollution because it reduces the need for raw materials, saving both forests and water supplies.

The market benefits from reuse thanks to an influx of quality products at reduced prices. After the Greater London Authority introduced reusing in their sustainability plan a few years ago, 12,000 tonnes of goods were reused in 2013.

Read more about why you should reuse before you recycle here

Reducing consumption can save even more energy and materials

As mentioned, the third R, reduce, is sometimes considered the most important—above reuse and recycle. In a straightforward way, this is because consuming fewer products will eradicate the need for them to be reused or recycled when we are done with them. Over time, it will even help reduce the number of energy and material-guzzling products that are produced at all.

The best way to do this is to make deliberate, informed choices about what we are consuming, and to place an emphasis on social and mental wellbeing over material wealth. As Oksana Mont of the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics says, “It is important that infrastructures and institutions develop towards enabling sustainable lifestyles and not consumerism.”

We can all play a part in reducing unsustainable consumption. Read these 5 ways to help put a stop to waste culture to get started.

Clearance Solutions can help you with reuse and recycling

Clearance Solutions offers sustainable house clearance services and an environmental approach to office clearance. We only recycle items that are damaged beyond repair, and we do this by sorting materials on-site and transporting them to recycling facilities. This allows for a higher recycling rate than delivering all materials in one go. Whenever possible, however, our team opts for the more sustainable option: reusing.

For Clearance Solutions, reusing often translates into salvaging furniture that is still in good condition and selling it on or donating it instead of disassembling it and recycling the single parts. In 2013 alone, this allowed us to save over 2,500 tonnes of CO2.

Read more about Clearance Solutions’ recycling services.

Home and Office Clearance: What We Remove and What Happens Next

What we can remove

We are happy to remove items both large and small – we can take appliances, computers, furniture, electrical goods and almost everything in between. We aim to get as much of your stuff into reuse as possible, but the things that can’t be reused we will take and dispose of in the proper (and sustainable) manner!

Trash to treasure

What happens next? Well, we get to work on trying to get your items reused.

Reusing, we believe, is better than recycling. It is better for the environment as it saves energy in manufacturing and processing and decreases the demand on raw materials. It helps to reduce pollution. It is also great for individuals as it can provide them with quality goods at low prices.

Not everything needs to be recycled, though it’s better than throwing it away outright, but some things can simply be reused. If they cannot be reused by you then they could be happily utilized by another individual, as they say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

What not to chuck

There are some commonly binned items that should never have seen the inside of a black bag! Some of these items, such as batteries for example, need to be properly disposed of. Other items should be got rid of with companies like us because we can re-home items and often sell them – which will save you money.

Recycling is certainly on the up, which is great, but a lot of items that end up in the recycling bin can’t actually be recycled and they slow the whole process down. Bunging everything into the recycling bin is almost as detrimental as not recycling at all. By using a company like ours you can cut out the umming and ahhing and your waste items can find their rightful homes.

Here are some items that have been found in British recycling bins over the past year that really should not have ended up in there:

Broken electrics:

This is something we can take care of and dispose of in the proper way, recycling and reusing what we can.

Art:

Why throw this away? We could sell this on or at least donate it to a charity shop and make sure it does some good. Think of the poor artist whose work or print has ended up with the plastic bottles!

Furniture:

So many people in the world are in need of furniture. This is something we really work to reuse because it surely needn’t go to waste.

Plastic toys with hidden metal bits:

Always check for those fiddly bits that cannot be recycled that could be attached to anything. These can screw up the recycling process!

And last but not least, bowling balls:

Yep, you read it right, a bowling ball really was found in the recycling bin in recent months, perhaps a cast off Christmas present from an unfavorable aunt. So for those who were wondering about how to best dispose of their bowling balls, the answer is not the recycling bin. Let us find some bowling buddies to give that to.
If we find something in your home or office that could have significant value we would recommend our specialist probate valuation service. This involves a RICS accredited valuer, or expert in a particular field if needed, carrying out a detailed survey of items and writing up a valuation.

This could take the cost off of clearing out your house and office. So if and when you are in need of a clearing, think of the environment, think of people and think of us.

Learning a lesson from the Rag-and-Bone Man: Reuse before you Recycle

In a world where we are constantly being made aware of the scarcity of the finite resources we run our economies on, there exists something of a consensus around the benefit of recycling. If we have any hope of sustaining life on the planet it seems we must recycle.

But amidst all the hype, we appear to have forgotten some old wisdom: often reuse is far kinder to the environment than recycling. We look to the pioneers of reuse, the rag-and-bone men of the 19th century, for some inspiration.

In the 19th century, a number of men forged an unlikely industry from collecting and selling (essentially reusing) the unwanted household items of others. Some of the more common items they would find included rags which could be converted into fabric and animal bones which could be used to make fertiliser. Thus, they earned their name: the rag-and-bone men.

Patrolling specific districts once a week, rag-and-bone men were usually equipped with nothing more than the bag slung over their shoulder. The more “wealthy” among them may have used a cart, but their method would have been the same: sifting through the ashes or dirt thrown out of houses for items of potential worth.

Ultimately, they were pioneers in the reuse and recycling industry – purveyors and curators of valuable items amongst apparent rubbish.

The work of the rag and bone men lends truth to the popular saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. A particularly poignant example from recent years regards an object with a value that we can all be objective about: a 2,400 year old Persian treasure found by a rag-and-bone man and left to his grandson.

Fast forward to modern present day: nobody would like to admit that they’re capable of throwing out a precious artefact having mistaken it as mere trash. But in a way, this is happening all the time. For example, TVs are constructed from rare minerals extracted from the earth which grow ever more precious as they continue to be mined. However, two million TV sets are discarded every year with most ending up in landfill sites.

Do We Need the Modern Rag and Bone Man?

If every Briton purchased one item made from reused wool a year it would save 371 million gallons of water and 480 tonnes of chemical dyes (source: UK Gov). Considering this, you might think it’s time to take a cue from the original community recyclers who were experts in taking today’s goods to create the goods of tomorrow.

The business model that informed the industry of the rag and bone men can be encapsulated in this single point: if there is a potential use to anything, then there is potential worth too. This doesn’t only hold strong implications for recycling, as it doesn’t preclude the thought that some materials might be acceptable for reuse purposes too.

According to Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP), around 83% of sofas are carelessly sent to the landfill or casually recycled rather than being reused. If we were to double the amount of sofas being reused, this could save over 52,000 tonnes of CO2. When you take facts like this into account, it would seem like the aforementioned method of operating on the premise that all items can be repurposed has long been forgotten.

Of course recycling is better than discarding, but reusing is even better. You can help to keep goods and materials out of the waste-stream, thus preserving the embodied energy that went into their construction as well as generating new business and employment opportunities. Growing awareness of the utility of reuse is giving rise to a new kind of rag-and-bone man.

Make Way for Clearance Companies

For the original rag-and-bone men, the prospect of excavating through the abandoned former belongings of recent house movers must have been quite a regular one. After all, there were no removal companies to facilitate the kind of seamless transitions that are on offer now.

Everybody understands that even modern moving can be stressful, but consideration should always be given to the effect that you could have on the environment. This is especially true when you know that you will not be keeping all of your possessions. During a house or office clearance, the effort that goes into reusing and recycling as much as possible can seem like unnecessarily complicating matters. But it is 100% worth it.

We believe there is a huge weight on the shoulders of any company who perform clearances. With facts and figures pointing towards a severe lack of both recycling and reuse, the time for clearances informed by a conscience is well overdue. With massive, self started donation networks, we’re proud to know our reuse practices are helping to make a huge difference to communities as well as the environment.

While some waste transfer companies claim 50% – 70% recycling rates, others with a strong environmental ethic will actually allow you to see how they are integrated with the environmental agency. Ask to see their waste carrier certificates or ask if they can provide detailed audit trails of the items that you will leave with them.

This time round, the rag-and-bone man could be more important than turning rags into seat covers, or bones into glue: it could mean furniture for a school that desperately needs it.

More and More Rubbish Everyday

You buy items everyday from food to clothes and furniture to toys. For every item you buy there is great potential that one day it will end up at a landfill site. As consumers we have to learn to be more considerate of what we buy and decide whether or not we truly do need it. As well we have to remember what will happen to the items we discard and how it will add to our carbon footprint.

Some Numbers

55 percent of the world’s garbage will end up in landfill sites, 33 percent is recycled and another 12.5 percent is incinerated. That means for every item you purchase more than half will be tossed into a landfill site.

How to Lessen your Contribution

There are many things you can do to lessen your contribution to the endless pile of garbage we produce everyday:

 

Only buy what you truly need. You will be amazed how well you still get by and how much money you save.
Consider buying used instead of new. You will stop something from becoming garbage and save money.
Buy items with less packaging. You can help send a message to manufacturers you will not contribute to the pile of garbage by buying their ridiculous packaging. Look for items that are self contained without all the additional boxes, plastics and fluff.
Buy recycled products. More and more companies are looking for ways to use recycled materials in their manufacturing process. Again, when you opt for these items over other products you are not only saving the planet but sending a message to industry you will not contribute to their destruction of the planet.
Stop before you toss. Before you throw anything away reconsider if you can actually still use the item. From clothes to furniture, old curtains to art, try to see things in a new light and get creative. The more you can reuse or repurpose the fewer items will wind up at the landfill site.
Give things away. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. Consider items you can pass on to family and friends. Ask around if you have an old desk, bed or kids’ clothes. You might be surprised at how easily you can get rid of things you no longer need.

 

Sell it. Instead of tossing it, sell it. You’ll make some money and if no one bites, give it away to charity.
Call Clearance Solutions! Clearance companies specialize in carting away anything you don’t need. They will find a use for it or sell it themselves. You don’t have to worry about selling it, posting it, lugging it to a charity or throwing it away. It just takes a quick call for a clearance company to take it off your hands.
Recycle yourself. Many people think they are doing a good job at recycling but then really aren’t taking the time to sort things properly and they wind up at the dump.

These few tips will help you reduce the amount of items you discard and help save the planet.

 

5 Steps to Eco heaven!

More and more of us are looking for ways to become more eco-conscious in our everyday lives. It is even more important to look for ways to be more eco-conscious if you have children as you can pass on green ideas onto them and let them know how important it is for their future. There are many bad habits we have taken up over the decades that are still causing serious issues for this planet of ours. Here are five things you can stop doing to be more eco-conscious:

Wasting Water: Making a conscious effort to cut down on the amount of water you use will make a huge difference to the environment. First make sure you have low flow toilets and shower heads in your home to cut down on waste. Next teach children and yourself to stop running water without need. Do not run water as you brush your teeth or shave for example. Small changes make a big difference! Instead turn the water on when you need to rinse or get water and turn it off when brushing and shaving. In the kitchen do not stand rinsing dishes, instead fill the sink a bit of the way up and use it to rinse. If you have a garden, use a water butt to collect water for watering your plants and lawn.

Water Bottles: This is an obvious one discussed often, however many of us still ignore the warnings and continue to purchase plastic water bottles. Use a container to store water in your fridge, use a reusable container for jogging or the car and bring a glass to use at work. Stop buying plastic.
Stop Sending Stuff to the Dump: The more rubbish and things we no longer need that we send to the dump, the more space we take up on earth. We also are sending items that might have dangerous chemicals that will be released into the earth and water. Look for ways to reuse items and if you can’t think of anything call a company like ours to take stuff away. A proper house clearance company like Clearance Solutions will find ways to repurpose and recycle items so you don’t have to worry.
Plastic Bags: Despite efforts to curb use by charging fees for plastic bags people still use them. Make an effort and purchase some reusable canvas, cotton or hemp bags and take them with you whenever you are out and about. There are actually a lot of clever designs out there that will not only save the environment but also make you look quite brilliant as well.
Wasting Fuel: If you drive a car consider ways to stop wasting fuel. We all know that driving adds more greenhouse gases into the environment yet we all still insist on driving. Get wise and consider taking public transit to work, walk wherever you can and make an effort to do longer shopping sprees and errands all at once instead of zipping out every time you need to buy milk.

 

By trying to follw these five relatively simple lifestyle rules, you will be doing the planet a huge favour.

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