From Instagram to a current affair…from Greta Thunberg to Leonardo DiCaprio, climate change is one of the most spoken about topics on everyone’s radar, with sustainability quickly becoming one of the biggest new trends catching the world by a storm. However, while it is great to see such an important topic gaining some much-needed attention, for the average Australian family, sustainability and recycling is something which can easily become overwhelming and can lead to feelings of guilt and inadequacy when we feel as though our sustainability efforts are falling short of those perfect ideals on our Facebook feeds. And while we might all enjoy adding a bit of extra salt into our daily cooking routine, the added stress likely to come from those overwhelming sustainability expectations is definitely something we can say no to in our kitchens.

While there is always ways in which we, as individuals or as a family, can improve to reduce our waste and lower our impact, it is important to remember that while we might all aspire to be like the Greta Thunberg’s of the world, this goal is not necessarily attainable for everyone, nor should it be. There are so many small things you can incorporate which will, over time, make a significant difference.

Here at Shelley’s Good Eats, we know that it can be challenging for families to incorporate new practices into their busy daily routines. We also understand that there is a lot of information out there about sustainability, which can make it overwhelming to know where to start. So, we have decided to start where our hearts lie (The Kitchen), and to break down the three types of recycling that you and your family can start incorporating into your daily kitchen routines to help reduce your waste; yellow-bin recycling, Red-cycle (soft-plastics) recycling and green/organic waste recycling.

Yellow-bin Recycling

This lovely yellow piece of bin engineering standing outside your home is the perfect place to start your families recycling journey. Depending on the area/city you live in, your yellow-lidded bin should get collected by your local council once a fortnight, and serves as an amazing opportunity for every household to reduce the amount of waste they are generating towards their local landfills.

But, did you know that not everything that seems recyclable, actually is?

Tricky isn’t it, fortunately most companies are making it much easier to identify if an item is recyclable by printing little numbered triangles on all of your packaged food items! However, each city/town’s recycling plants have slightly different capacities for what items they are able to recycle…so, the best way to double check your cities recycling do’s and don’ts prior to starting your families recycling journey, is on your local council’s website.

So, let’s break down the ins and outs of recycling, starting with our very own Brisbane! Fortunately, or our Brisbane dwellers almost any packaged-food products made from paper, cardboard, firm plastic, metal (aluminium and steel), or glass can be recycled, even when it does not contain the recycling symbol (small numbered triangle). However, there are some exceptions to the rule which we have listed below for you:

  • Wax-coated paper/cardboard boxes (e.g. fruit boxes)
  • Baking paper
  • All soft plastics (e.g. plastic bags, cling wrap and straws)
  • Drinking glasses, cookware (e.g. Pyrex) and heat-proof glass

So, why exactly can’t we recycle these items?

  • The wax covering the paper and cardboard makes it too difficult to recover paper fibres
  • The light-weight nature of soft plastics often results in them getting caught around moving machine parts, often leading to jams
  • The listed glass types are often more fragile than the durable nature of recyclable glass (jars etc) and therefore, can weaken the new glass products if they are used

If you live in Brisbane and would love to read more about the recycling dos and don’ts from your local council, click here and download the council’s pdf.

Yellow bin recycling system

Red-cycle (soft plastic) recycling

While we are unable to recycle our household soft-plastics in our yellow-lidded bins in Australia, there is a solution to answer our soft-plastic recycling prayers, and their name is Red-cycle.

The best thing is that the Red-cycle recycling system for soft-plastics couldn’t get any simpler! Simply (could we say simple anymore times?) collect all your household soft, scrunchable plastics, using the scrunching test, in a bag at home and drop them in to your local Coles or Woolworths stores during your weekly (or if you’re like us…daily!) grocery run.

Soft-plastic scrunch test

Red-cycle then collects your soft-plastic waste and sends them to their friends at Replas, who use it to make over 200 different recycled products.

For an all-inclusive list of all of the Red-cycle dos and don’ts, click here.

Green/organic food waste recycling

Last, but certainly not least, we have arrived at the food waste section of today’s blog post. Learning how to recycle your kitchen food waste is a great way to reduce the amount of waste your family is sending to landfill!

There are many different ways in which your family can recycle their green waste, which makes it easier to find an option to suite your circumstances. Here at Shelley’s Good Eats, we are all about making your life easier, so we have listed some options below for you:

  • Worm farms

Worm farm can recycle

  • Home composting (indoor/outdoor)

Compost bin can recycle

All of the above options are great ways for you to give your families green waste a second life, and can be quite fun to get your kids involved!

The whole recycling process can be a great opportunity to get your children involved, to help them develop an understanding and appreciation of their food system. Weekends and bin days can be a less hectic time to involve your kids and educate them about sustainability. Your local council’s website is an abundance of information; including recycling/composting apps and workshops to help engage your kids in these processes, while also making it more interesting and fun for them. Visiting your local community gardens and recycling plants can also be a fun way to get the family together on the weekends, while also refreshing your knowledge of sustainability in your city.

Here at Shelley’s Good Eats, because we understand it can be hard to incorporate sustainability into your family’s everyday routine, we’d love to know what your biggest ‘sustainability struggles’ are?

Your feedback will help guide our future posts for our ‘Shelley’s Sustainability Series’, where we can provide you with considerate, practical and (dare we say it) sustainable advice, that you and your family can use to build more eco-conscious kitchens.

A bit about the Author

Hi my name is Karly. I am a 3rd year Nutrition student, studying on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I work as an assistant at Shelley’s Good Eats, in-between my studies. As well as having a passion for all things nutrition, I also have a keen interest in sustainability. In the future, I would love to combine both of my passions and educate people in a dynamic and multifaceted way.