Plastic Pollution, Waste & Recycling

Doing the right thing is hard, but…

Last week, I posted excitedly that I was looking forward to taking all my extra recycling to various Terracycle drop-off points in my local area. For those who don’t know, this is a scheme whereby different categories of rubbish that aren’t taken by kerbside recycling can be taken to locations that have been set up to collect them and send them off to be recycled. Many of the locations are home addresses where the occupant has simply added a box or bin to their own rubbish collection point for eager locals to drop off their Terracycle waste.

In theory, it’s a great scheme. I eagerly set off last Sunday on the Tern e-bike – a sustainable double-whammy I thought! – to do my drop offs, only to find that, out of 4 home addresses I’d jotted down for different types of rubbish, only 1 was a successful drop-off. At the rest, there simply wasn’t a collection box anywhere to be seen.

It was quite disheartening, especially when I’d made the effort to plan a 10-mile-or-so circuit to accommodate a multitude of locations.

The GSD loaded up and ready to go

This, alongside another issue I’d experienced the previous day (cycling 5 miles in a raging headwind to collect groceries from my local waste-free shop only to be turned away because their lockdown closing time is in fact half an hour earlier than that listed on their website), really brought home now hard it is to do the right thing.

Anyone who knows anything about getting people to change their habits will know this is not good: most people simply won’t change if changing isn’t easy to do and there isn’t some kind of intrinsic motivation to do so. So, much as schemes like Terracycle and shops like Almond and Co are wonderful facilitators of doing the right thing for those of us that are very motivated to do so, a lot more needs to happen to make doing the right thing for the planet the norm.

There is one silver lining to this story: I finally made my return trip to Almond and Co yesterday after last weekend’s failed attempt. On my way out of the shop, I spotted a Terracyle collection box that takes some of the rubbish categories I’m keen to dispose of responsibly. So, next time I’ve got a bag of crisp packets that needs to go, I’ll combine the drop-off with a stock-up. Now that’s the kind of convenience I’m looking for…