Planet Ark News

Awake to the Fun of Recycling

Date: 23-Sep-15
Author: Emily Donnelly

Aaahhhhhhh © Emily Donnelly


There are so many bits and bobs in products out there that I didn’t know could be recycled and until I started working for Planet Ark, I never noticed just how much plastic was in everything.

I had a moment of realisation about my eco-footprint shortly after joining Planet Ark in October 2014. An eco-awaking if you will.

Before then I always considered myself somewhat environmentally aware and knew how to recycle stuff and sort my rubbish (so I thought). It wasn’t until I walked into our office on my first day when I noticed multiple different stations where one can deposit whacky and weird things for recycling, that I realised I had so much more to learn.

Specifically, it was the moment during National Recycling Week where I discovered that I could recycle aerosol cans. No judging please because I was not alone. Sixty six per cent of Australians don’t know what to do with used aerosol cans – hint, they are recyclable!

Since then, it has been an interesting and fun learning curve. There are so many things I discovered could be recycled and really easy ways to change some bad habits that I didn’t even know I had.

Things That I Didn’t Know Could Be Recycled, But Actually Can!

  • Soft plastic packaging: This includes more than just the plastic shopping bags which, no mater how you try, still accumulate under the sink. Soft plastics can include biscuit trays, pasta packets, chip and lolly packets, cling wrap and more. To determine if it’s recyclable or not you just have to apply the scrunch test (which can be quite fun). Then you can take your soft plastics to a participating Coles or Woolies and dispose of them in REDcycle collection bin.
  • Power tool batteries: This is a new one, which only kicked off recently. Brisbane residents can recycle their used power tool batteries as part of a pilot program. Seriously, you can read all about it here. For everyone outside of Brisbane, you can drop batteries at Battery World stores or check with your local council.
  • Toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes: you can help divert these from landfill by registering as a collection partner and sending them (free) to TerraCycle. Recycled products are then made into new items like garden pavers, recycled soap dispensers, waste bins and watering cans!
  • Bras: Ladies, I know you know what I’m saying when I say that we tend to hold on to bras for longer than we need to. But we also tend to accumulate bras that we never wear! To be honest I have never even thought about whether or not they can be recycled, but it turns out there is a great organisation called Uplift Bras that collect our bras (new or pre-loved) and sends them off to women in disadvantaged communities that need them. There are public drop off points, which you can see here.

These are just a few small changes and things that I’ve learned in the last 12 months that I have found to be really easy to sustain. Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect at it and yes there are times when I catch myself buying a bottle of water or drinking from a straw. But I am happy with the fact that I have decided to make some changes and will over time incorporate more, the more I learn about different initiatives and discover new ways to do things.

When was your eco-awakening and what changes have you made at home to reduce your impact?

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  • Tree Day
  • Cartridges for Planet Ark