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Recycling at home

We all have a responsibility to do our bit for the environment, and recycling at home can be a great way to limit our impact on the planet.

With strict rules about what can and cannot be recycled, and different methods and bins for different items, recycling can be confusing. But you shouldn't let that put you off – and hopefully, this handy guide will answer any questions you might have.

What can you recycle at home?

Did you know that you can recycle batteries? And those old pairs of shoes that have been sitting untouched in your wardrobe for years? Most people will be surprised at how many items can be sent for recycling.

If you're just starting off recycling at home, you've probably already got an idea of the basic items that can be recycled – cans, cartons, glass jars and so on. But for those less familiar items, your best bet is to check the 'What to do with' guide from Recycle Now, which is the national recycling campaign for England. It offers detailed instructions for most common household products. Before long, you'll have mastered how to recycle these items and so will no longer need to check the site!

How can I recycle at home?

Recycle Now explains the simple four-step process to start recycling from home:

  1. Find out what you can recycle

    Enter your address in Recycle Now's recycling locator to learn what you can recycle from home, as well as the location of your closest drop-off point. Once you've got a good idea of what can and cannot be recycled using the 'What to do with' guide, find a suitable spot in your home where you can store the items, and encourage everyone else who lives with you to do their bit.

  2. Recycle from your doorstep

    Around 90% of us have household recycling collections. If you don't have house recycling bins or bags then get in touch with your local council – you might simply have been missed out!

  3. Find out your recycling day

    Check with your council what day your recycling is collected – it could be weekly or fortnightly. Make sure the date is marked in your calendar, or you may be able to ask for a recycling calendar from your council.

  4. Make recycling super simple

    You can save yourself time and make recycling even easier by:

    • Washing certain items before putting them in the recycling bin (like glass jars). Swilling them in used washing-up water will do the trick.
    • Storing your recycling bin next to your main bin so you only have to do one trip.
    • Incorporating recycling into your weekly trip to the supermarket, where you can 'drop when you shop'.

How do you know if its recyclable?

Lots of everyday household items now feature recycling symbols on their packaging, explains Recycle Now. The so-called on-pack recycling label (OPRL) will tell you whether or not the packaging will be collected for recycling, or if you can drop it off at your local recycling centre.

There are different recycling symbols. These include the standard 'widely recycled', or you might find a 'widely recycled' label followed by instructions like 'rinse', 'lid on' or 'flatten, cap on'. There are also labels instructing you to recycle the item at recycle points, recycling centres or recycle with bags at larger stores.

Just bear in mind that if an item doesn't bear a label, this doesn't mean it can't be recycled – so check before putting it in the normal bin.

While the exact rules might be different depending on where you live, here's some information on how certain items should be recycled:

How to recycle plastic at home

There are seven main types of plastic that you'll use around your home – some are easy to recycle, some are a bit more difficult. Which? has created this handy table outlining the different plastics, what they're used for, what they'll be in their next life and how easy they are to recycle. Take a look for some top tips.

How to recycle food waste at home

If you've got a kitchen caddy for food waste, this usually means you can recycle any raw or cooked food scraps. Just make sure you remove all of the packaging from the food before putting it in the bin, particularly plastic.

How to recycle cans at home

Don't bother about crushing cans before putting them in the bin. Speaking to Metro, Sean Pettitt of Purely Waste Solutions explains: "If you put all of your recyclables in the same bin which then goes to a materials recovery facility to be segregated, it can make it harder for a squashed can to be separated."

How to recycle old clothes at home

Clothes or textiles in good condition could be donated to charity or sold for re-use. Otherwise, you'll need to check if your council collects these items, or drop them off at recycling points located in supermarkets and local car parks.

How to recycle paper at home

Paper is widely recyclable, but only when it's clean – e.g. paper stained with grease or used paper towels are a no-no. You can do the 'scrunch' test – if the paper doesn't spring back when scrunched, then it's OK to recycle.

How can I reuse things at home?

You can do your bit by making the switch from disposable to reusable for many household items. For instance, paper cups to travel mugs, plastic carriers to jute bags, plastic straws to glass or paper straws, and kitchen roll for cloths.

Also, think of inventive ways to reuse items in your home. Glass jars could be used for storage, paper could be used for craft – and there's no reason why you can't reuse wrapping paper if it looks as good as new!

If you're interested in finding out more on how to make your home green, read more with our top tips for a greener home guide

Home insurance from Hastings Direct

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