Ideas to make you shout “SNAP!”

Thinking about environmentally conscious actions you take at home, and whether they are transferable and achievable in our GLAMs?  

Here are just a few ideas to get you started, and to make you shout SNAP!, BINGO! or even EUREKA! if that’s your thing. 

  1. Recycling: the bare minimum – paper, cans and glass

Have you ever considered removing the bins beside desks and asking staff to make choices about where they put their “rubbish”? It’s not a big deal having to get up and place rubbish into the correct bin in a kitchen or other communal area.  

Here are a few of the benefits:  

  • reducing co-mingling of rubbish and recyclables 
  • reducing the time it takes cleaners to empty bins, so they can spend more on actual cleaning
  • encouraging more movement and stopping preventing us from sitting for too long.

2. Recycling: beyond the basics

There are so many, many things that go beyond just the bare minimum we should all be doing, and the following is honestly just a tiny selection.

  • Soft plastics –  eg. hardcopy periodical wrappers, biscuit packets, clingwrap, etc. can easily be collected and taken to the REDcycle bins located across Australia. Although not available everywhere yet, the network is ever-expanding.
  • CDs, DVDs and jewel cases – beyond re-using them for sparkly art or bird scaring, these discs are about 98% recyclable. The recovered polycarbonate plastic is used in products like sunglasses and motorcycle helmets, and the shiny coating (aluminium, gold, silver alloy or silicon) is also highly recoverable. Planet Ark’s Business Recycling site is a good place to start finding out more about your options.
  • Weeded books – The obvious choice here is to send them to paper recycling. Alternatively, you could try donating them to another library, but this process is complicated and expensive. So why not explore working with James Bennett and supporting  The Sustainability Projects (TSP)  
Image by kmindum

3. Sustainable catering & tea-room composting 

Before you buy disposable crockery, cutlery and bottled water, think about how much you’d save if you owned real kitchenware. If you don’t have a dishwasher, share the washing up, encourage the sense of community that this can bring. For a large event you can explore hiring what you need. There are companies that will not only hire out the goods, but may also remove the dirties, so you don’t even need to wash up.  

Office kitchen composting may seem impossible, but you could try a Bokashi Bin or “food scrap digester”. A willing Council or parent organisation may even be happy to install an “in ground/buried” compost bin/worm farm such as a Green Cone. There are plenty of styles to choose from and they are not that expensive. Failing this you may find that someone is more than happy to take scraps home for their own compost bins or chooks.

4. E-waste

E-waste is something we face both at home and in our GLAMs, so before you throw the dead monitor, TV, laptop or microwave into the bin, (carefully hiding it at the bottom), have a look at what other options are available in your area. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is so organise a pickup if you can’t deliver the goods to a depot yourself. The Cleanup Australia site includes information on where to start.  Retailers such as OfficeWorks and even Harvey Norman have e-waste recycling programs.

Need further convincing? 

Conduct a waste audit, or bring in an expert to do it for you. A waste audit lets you physically analyse your waste flow, and helps you to pinpoint your problem areas. They can fun, fast, and are a real eye-opener. Don’t be tempted to hide “the evidence”. Be honest and use it as a conversations starter about how you tackle the future.   

Co-mingled waste Image by Nathan Copley from Pixabay 

Disclaimer: Naturally systems vary across Australia, and you’ll need to check with your local council, as well as other organisations to find out what can be recycled, upcycled, reused or repurposed in your area. We guarantee that once you start investigating you will be astounded by the huge range of options available.

If you have the time, consider attending the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo in Sydney in August. It’s a great way to get up to speed with what is possible in the wide world of waste and recycling.  

By Katalin Mindum, ALIA Sustainable Libraries Committee Member

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