LEARNING ZONE: REUSE, REPAIR OR RECYCLE!
A forage4it guide for young people
What are you planning to chuck away today?
That old MP3 player you haven’t used since you got a state-
Then again, that PlayStation is getting a bit old now. What about slinging that in the bin?
Well, before you do STOP right there! Keep your hands off the lid of the wheelie bin, and read on…
We all love gadgets, the more up-
But we can’t keep throwing things away. It’s such a terrible waste, when they might be useful to someone else or can be mended and reused even if they’re broken or faulty.
Every boy and girl, man and woman has got to think about how to recycle more, for the sake of the planet on which we live and for future generations.
What’s more, the laws of our country expect each one of us to recycle safely, properly and responsibly to protect the food we eat, the water we drink and the environment in which we live.
You aren’t convinced yet? Then find out more here…
WHAT WE ALL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WEEE
Most of us agree that recycling makes good sense because it cuts down on needless waste, encourages all of us to look after precious resources and is good for our planet.
Of course, most of us have at least one bin or box at home in which we can drop lots of everyday items that can be taken away and recycled. Glass and plastic bottles, paper, envelopes, food and drink cartons, plastic food tubs and trays, cardboard, plastic pots and aluminium foil and trays are just some of the things that can go in these bins. At school, you might have a clothing bank.
But there are other bits and pieces that we must NOT put in our recycling or general waste bins at home. That’s because the chemicals, metals or components they contain can harm animals and plants, damage our environment and even find their way into our drinking water.
Everyday items such as computers, printers, and mobile phones, as well as the batteries we use to power our gadgets, may contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. If you throw them in the bin and they are not spotted in time by the bin men who call each week at your home, these can end up in landfill sites. If this happens, poisonous compounds can find their way into soil and water, polluting lakes and streams and making them unfit for drinking, swimming, fishing, and supporting wildlife.
The people who govern our country and manage recycling projects across Europe classify machines and products like these under the name Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s call it ‘WEEE’ for short.
You might think: ‘This doesn’t affect me. My family has only got a few electrical things at home. We haven’t got a shed full of chemicals or a workshop laden with machines and dangerous metals.’
But you might be surprised. Many everyday items that we take for granted in our homes are classed as WEEE, such as:
TVs and radios
CD and DVD players
Personal computers, laptops and tablets
Light fittings, including bulbs and fluorescent lamps
Fridges and freezers
Cookers and microwaves
Radiators and air conditioners
Electric and electronic toys, such as train sets and video games
Your mum and dad might not realise that it is illegal to dispose of things like these by just popping them in the wheelie bin, so now that you know be sure to tell them – you’ll be doing them a big favour!
To help us all to identify what is WEEE, the firms that make computers and other electronic and electrical goods often put this logo on the outside. If you see it, NEVER put that item in your general waste or recycling bin when you’ve finished with it.
DID YOU KNOW?
It is reckoned that 1 million tonnes of electrical and electronic items are thrown away in the United Kingdom every year – enough to fill Wembley Stadium six times over. *
Yes, the UK produces an estimated 1 million tonnes of WEEE a year. While many of us are keen to do our bit to recycle what we don’t need any more, too much of this stuff finds its way into landfill sites – huge holes in the ground in which unsorted or unrecyclable waste is simply buried.
A large articulated lorry in the UK can carry about 28 tonnes, so that means we produce an estimated 35,714 lorryloads of WEEE a year. Just think of all the extra traffic and air pollution this causes.
About 170 million new electrical items are bought in the UK each year, and yet we recycle less than a third of these when they come to the end of their working life. What a waste!
The gadgets we take for granted these days are made up of an assortment of materials, many of which can be reused. For example, there is enough metal in some electric irons to produce up to 13 steel cans.
WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT WEEE?
If it can’t go in the recycling bin, what can you do with the electrical and electronic items you don’t want anymore.
One way is to take them along to your local Norfolk County Council waste recycling centre. There are lots of these: you’ll find them dotted right across the county.
When you get to the centre, teams of staff will be able to tell you where to find the right bins, containers and skips in which to place each item. Batteries, bottles, clothes, light bulbs, printer ink cartridges, grass cuttings and garden rubbish and lots, lots more can be taken there too, so load up the family car and take it all in one go to save unnecessary extra journeys!
Another way is to ask a local recycling business to come and collect the things your
family no longer needs. It is a very handy way of recycling if you’re having a big
REMEMBER THESE ‘THREE Rs’
Every time you are thinking of getting rid of one or two bits and pieces, it’s worth remembering three words starting with the letter R:
You might be fed-
If you prefer, contact a firm such as forage4it. The team will do all it can to find someone who can put your unwanted item to good use again.
Don’t forget: charity shops will be glad to receive many of your unwanted household items to be sold and reused (be sure to check with them first if they can accept electrical and electronic goods). And if you wear glasses, don’t throw your old pair away – charities may be able to send them to developing countries to help needy people. Ask your optician for details.
What about trying to get it repaired? Dropping your phone might just have caused a part to dislodge or snap. A phone shop or electronics expert such as forage4it might be able to fix it in minutes for a very small cost – much less than it would cost to buy a new one. Problem solved, and you’ve stopped another gadget going to waste.
Recycling – It can’t be repaired and it can’t be reused. Does that mean the old PC gathering dust in a corner at home will have to go? Maybe, but there’s no need for it to go to waste! An expert can take your PC apart and sort it into metals, plastics and electronic bits. By the time the useful bits and pieces have been separated, hardly anything will be left to throw away in landfill sites. That’s awesome news for our planet!
THINGS TO DO
Grab a pen and paper and count all the electrical and electronic gadgets that belong to you, then go around your home and see how many you can find in the kitchen, the utility room, the living room and the study. Add up the totals in each room.
Compile your own A-
As you go around the house, look out for the symbol that warns you not to drop
this item into your wheelie bins. You might find it on a special label on the side
or back. Ask a parent or other grown-
Remember: if your family decides to buy a new item to replace one of these things, the old one will be classed as WEEE and needs to be recycled safely and according to the law.
Try the forage4it wordsearch.
WHY THE WORLD MUST THINK ‘GREEN’
We at forage4it believe that responsible recycling is an issue that matters to every man and woman, boy and girl across the whole world. Still not convinced? This video** might change your mind. It’s an Australian news report from the African nation of Ghana and shows how people’s lives can be ruined if the problem of waste is not tackled safely and fairly:
But let’s be positive! Together we can bring about a greener, less wasteful world if we all try our very best to REPAIR, REUSE AND RECYCLE.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
There is plenty of information about recycling on the internet for people of all ages. Here’s just a small selection for starters**:
The Recycle for Norfolk website tells you more about ways of going green in your home county
The Norfolk County Council website tells you where to find your nearest recycling centre.
You might like to visit these YouTube pages for more information about the topics covered on this page.
Save Our World
How it Works -
Don’t Waste Your Waste
… Oh, and have a browse around the rest of the forage4it website too!
** The views expressed in these clips are not necessarily those of forage4it