There have been a few green-related happenings this week that have prompted me to write this post. Firstly, the five pence charge for plastic bags has begun in Scotland. Secondly, on a more personal note, we’ve taken delivery of our new smaller wheelie bin and instructions for the updated recycling programme here in Edinburgh.
The wheelie bins are something I am observing with much interest! I live in a building with 8 separate apartments. Of these 8, I would say there are just two of us who have previously recycled significant quantities of our rubbish on a regular basis. Many of the other apartments, on the other hand, often have overflowing landfill bins (especially when they forget to drag them out so they only get emptied once every 4 weeks). The changes to the recycling programme mean that our old wheelie bins are to become our new recycling bins, so instead of having to separate our recycling it can all go in together – nice and easy for us consumers, although more costly at the sorting plant. We have then been given new, slimmer wheelie bins for our landfill waste. The results after week one were ‘dubious’ as most people still have landfill waste in their recycling bin, so I’ll have to give it another few weeks before we see how successful these changes turn out to be. I hope that more people recycle, even if they are only recycling because they are being forced to by the reduced size of their landfill bin! I still, however, have some reservations because it really wasn’t that difficult to recycle before when we had two different boxes. So if people didn’t recycle then, won’t they just find ways around it again now?
I guess I am fairly well informed when it comes to some sustainability issues. I’m no green goddess, but I try to play my part. However, even I find it difficult sometimes ‘trust’ the recycling programmes. Firstly, to know what I can and cannot put in the recycling – is this type of yoghurt pot okay? – but also to know what exactly happens to it all when it leaves my house. For example, I visited a recycling plant as a site visit for my Masters programme and was surprised to find how much of our recycling gets shipped to China. So would a more informed population, be a more sustainable population? Perhaps not if the learnings from the Health Behaviours lecture can be applied to sustainable behaviours. So instead, maybe initiatives such as the 5p plastic bag charge will do a better job at making us evaluate our actions.