Re­duc­ing, Reusing, Re­cy­cling

Are you do­ing your part for the bet­ter­ment of our en­vi­ron­ment? Start small by stick­ing to the ba­sics of re­cy­cling and you’ll be on your way to be­ing an ad­vo­cate for a bet­ter tomorrow

Expatriate Lifestyle - - A Potted Guide To - Words by Theresa Shalini Stephen Photo by is­tock­photo


Re­cy­cling may seem like a te­dious process, but it re­ally isn’t that dif­fi­cult and should ac­tu­ally be some­thing ev­ery­one does with­out hes­i­ta­tion. The first thing to keep in mind is the ba­sic sep­a­ra­tion of the main items that can be re­cy­cled — pa­per, plas­tic, alu­minium and glass. We should all cul­ti­vate the habit of re­cy­cling every sus­tain­able item that is no longer of use.

While I’m nowhere close to be­ing a green per­son my­self, I’ve learnt a few tricks, which the whole fam­ily can fol­low eas­ily. Try some of them your­self. Though you may not see the im­me­di­ate ef­fects of re­cy­cling im­me­di­ately, be as­sured that you’ll be do­ing your part to con­trib­ute to a bet­ter fu­ture. Re­cy­cling pa­per means land­fills don’t get filled up too quickly, but that doesn’t mean the en­vi­ron­ment doesn’t suf­fer. Pa­per can only be re­cy­cled a cer­tain num­ber of times be­fore the fi­bres break down. It is said that of the 17 bil­lion cu­bic feet of tim­ber har­vested glob­ally, over 60 per cent is used for pa­per pro­duc­tion. Sim­ply put, the more pa­per we re­cy­cle, the less trees get chopped down.

Be­sides the usual re­cy­cling at home and of­fice, there are other ways to reduce your pa­per us­age.yes, sticky notes are nice but they’re made of pa­per; pin scrap pa­per on a cork­board in­stead.think twice be­fore you print as we live in an age of tech­nol­ogy (apps, smart phones) where in­for­ma­tion is so eas­ily stored.

Food for thought – at the rate of de­for­esta­tion to­day, it will take less than 100 years to de­stroy the rain­forests of the world.


It’s de­press­ing to see how much plas­tic we use and how care­lessly it’s dis­posed of. Plas­tic isn’t biodegrad­able (bro­ken down by micro­organ­isms into or­ganic mat­ter), and they end up in land­fills, po­ten­tially leak­ing pol­lu­tants into the soil and wa­ter. Mil­lions of tonnes of plas­tic also end up in our oceans every year and have ter­ri­ble ef­fects on every­thing from sea life to coral reefs, even­tu­ally even end­ing up in the food chain.

The eas­i­est way to al­le­vi­ate this prob­lem is to dras­ti­cally reduce plas­tic con­sump­tion and even the small­est change in habit, such as us­ing re­us­able shop­ping bags, bring­ing a lunch box for your take­aways, buy­ing in bulk us­ing your own re­cy­cled con­tain­ers, us­ing cloth di­a­pers and opt­ing for prod­ucts in pa­per con­tain­ers in­stead of plas­tic, can make a dif­fer­ence.

Alu­minium and Glass

When you re­cy­cle alu­minium and glass, you’re sav­ing more than 90 per cent of the en­ergy that is needed to make new glass or ex­tract me­tals from ore. In fact, re­cy­cling one glass bot­tle saves enough en­ergy to power a TV for one and a half hours. Glass can be re­cy­cled over and over again and it’s a rel­a­tively sim­ple process of melt­ing it down and re­mould­ing to make new bot­tles, while alu­minium melts at a low tem­per­a­ture and is, there­fore, also very easy to re­cy­cle.

While Malaysia still has a long way to go to reach in­ter­na­tional re­cy­cling stan­dards, there has been an up­surge in en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cern, lead­ing to lo­cal coun­cils in cer­tain ar­eas set­ting up re­cy­cling bins. So, be sure to note where the near­est one is in your neigh­bour­hood.

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