5Rs of Zero Waste: Step 4 - RECYCLE
Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse.
After we have refused what we don't need, reduced what we need, and reused what we consume, there is little left that needs to be recycled. At the end of a product's life, they either end up getting recycled or in landfills/incinerators. Recycling is always a better option than the latter. When purchasing new items, always choose products that support reuse, and are made of materials that are compatible with your community's recycling program. This ensures the items are likely to get recycled over and over (with steel, aluminium, glass & paper) versus downcycled (e.g. plastics).
Furthermore, throwing items labelled as "recyclable" in the recycle bin is not the end of the recycle story. There are countless articles online on what are the different types of recyclables and how to responsibly recycle them. First, you'll have to find out how recyclables are processed in your country.
In Singapore, waste collection companies collect paper, plastic, glass, and metal from the big blue recycling bins you see littered across housing estates and streets islandwide.
I was just out with my niece a couple of weeks ago, and we had popsicles together and were looking for bins to throw the wooden sticks. She ran ahead and found one of those three-stream recycle bins. She stood there for a second, pondered, and proceeded to throw her wooden stick into the bin for plastics. I stood there, jaw agape, for what felt like more than just a second. When my senses came back, I shrieked at her and asked her why she did what she did. Then proceeded to "lecture" her on how recycling works and why it is important that we recycle the waste we consume.
Have you ever been conflicted about what can or cannot go into a recycle bin? Here's a list of non-recyclables you that should NOT be thrown in a recycle bin. Remember these the next time you're faced with a "3-headed beast"!