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Rethink your reuse and recycling

By Zara Barlow, age 14, Albury

As a society we throw away way too many things. Australians produce over eighteen million tonnes of waste every year. On average each Australian discards 330 kilograms of paper, 552 aluminium cans, 118 kilograms of plastic, 74 kilograms metals, 414 kilograms food and 206 glass bottles and jars. So much of this staggering percentage is recyclable and reusable, yet we choose to throw it out and contribute to the already colossal landfills. Recyling one tonne of paper or cardboard saves thirty thousand litres of water. Recycling one aluminium can saves the amount of electricity required to run a television set for two hours.

So what can we do to reduce this amount of rubbish fouling our planet? Well…

$8 billion worth of the food tossed to the landfills is still perfectly edible. Eat leftovers from homecooked meals instead of binning it and buying takeaway – said convenience food also has packaging that is then turned into rubbish.

Save glass bottles and jars from the red bin by recycling them or refilling them with other food and drink – why throw out something you can still use?

Other glass bottles/jars, aluminium cans and paper can also be used for art projects. When you use a new piece of paper, remember to use both sides. Never litter, especially on the beach; plastic bags sink into the ocean and are a terrible threat to marine life by way of choking or entanglement. Avoid throwing pieces of gum onto footpaths and park benches – small birds mistake it for food and choke on it. Always find a bin, or bring reusable things home. Keep plastic bags stocked up in a drawer to use whenever needed.

You can also help reduce global warming by turning lights off when you leave a room.

Instead of throwing food scraps out, make a compost pile.

If you have excess food in your kitchen that is frozen or not past its sell-by date, give it away to people in need instead of chucking it in the trash.

There are so many things you can do to help the environment!