Several people send their waste for recycling on a monthly basis. But most of them don’t even know how it works. Do you know how exactly your paper is recycled? Or that plastic shampoo bottle that your raddiwala took last month? Did you know that there are several types of plastics and each one of them is recycled at different temperatures? In fact in just one product you can have 3–4 different types of plastic which all have a different process! For example a coke bottle uses a different kind of plastic for the bottle itself, a different one for the cap and a completely different one for the label. The world of recycling and waste is extremely fascinating. Here are some fun DIY ways to set up recycling at home and teach your kids how this amazing process works.
DIY Paper recycling:
I remember the first time I was introduced to recycling was when my grandfather decided to teach me how to recycle newspaper one afternoon. As a young child, I waited excitedly to make my own paper that I could make a card with and was fascinated by the process of creating something on your own from waste. The actual process of recycling paper is very easy. It requires very few materials and effort. All you need to do is shred some used paper/newspaper, mix it in a blender with lots of water to make slurry, sieve it and remove excess water and finally dry it. During the sieving process you can add things like flower petals or seeds to make your own version of handmade paper.
Check out a detailed tutorial here with easy tools that can be found in the kitchen: https://bit.ly/2NyJ94D
DIY Tetrapak recycling:
Tetrapak, the company that makes your milk and juice cartons, themselves give out a lot of information regarding how to recycle their waste. Recycling tetrapaks is quite similiar to recycling paper and can easily be done at home at a very small scale as an experiment.
Check out the detailed tutorial here: https://bit.ly/2Ls7snf
DIY Plastic recycling:
Most plastics give out toxic fumes when exposed to heat for recycling. Especially, if you don’t know what kind of plastic you are working with and at what exact temperature that type of plastic melts. However, there is one plastic that can be easily recycled at home using a small oven — HDPE. This is the plastic from which most of your bottle caps are made (check the cap for the symbols HDPE). This type of plastic does not give out many toxic fumes and can be very easily recycled. However, it is still recommended that you use a separate oven from the one you use for cooking to recycle this plastic.
Plastic recycling involves shredding the plastic into much smaller pieces and then melting and molding it into the shape of the object you want to make.
Check out a fun way to do it here: https://bit.ly/2dDVeWk
If you are even more excited to dive deeper into the amazing world of plastic recycling, this amazing organization has actually created free designs to build your own machines and mini plastic recycling unit to recycle any type of plastic. The machines can be built for a very small amount of money and will essentially replicate what a large plastic recycling unit looks like.
All the processes mentioned above are the mini versions of what a large factory does with more machines and skilled labour.
Although understanding the process of recycling is fun and recycling itself is far more beneficial to the planet than just land filling waste, it is still not a perfect solution. Recycling often requires a lot of energy and in some cases a lot of water. Many types of waste such as plastic bottles, can be recycled only once or twice before they cannot be recycled anymore. A lot of these bottles also end up being recycled into textiles like polyster which on the face of it may seem amazing but what happens after that garment’s life has ended? The garment now has both cotton and plastic and it is extremely hard to separate the two to recycle it. The best and only solution out there is responsible consumption. Reducing how much you consume, making choices that require lesser packaging, repairing broken things and buying good quality products that last longer are a far better solution than simply recycling something. So next time you decide to go out on a shopping spree, think twice about where that product will end up after you are done with it.
*Our organization, Upcycler’s Lab, creates learning tools and programs for parents and schools around sustainability. Our vision is to change mindset and behaviour around waste and therefore we only work with children below the age of 9 since most behaviour is formed by that age. Our newest program for schools uses play based learning, storytelling, crafts and songs to teach waste management to children.
Know more about our story here: https://bit.ly/2HO909u
Have a look at our products here: https://bit.ly/2KdyZF7
Get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org