Recycling and the Common Good

“When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears” – Pope Francis on consumerism in his encyclical Laudato Si.

I’ve finally jumped on the recycling bandwagon. Yes I know, I’ve lived in this country before but you can get away with ignoring the recycling truck if you live in a flat. For the record, we are still living in a flat, but it’s a smaller building with only 7 apartments and a rather dodgy rubbish shed. So yes, the final push factor to start recycling stemmed purely from a desire to reduce my visits to the smelly and filthy rubbish shed and a morbid fear that the waste collection men would find out I wasn’t recycling!

In the beginning, I didn’t even know where to get the recycling bags! But our trusty local residents facebook group pointed me towards the Council website where a few clicks gets you a pack of 26 sacks sent conveniently to your mailbox. I always thought recycling was complex, simply because of how they differentiate recycling bins in public spaces – I believe it’s one bin for glass, another for paper….another for mixed use recycling? Anyway, so thankfully with residential recycling it’s fairly straightforward and the sacks are helpfully labeled with what’s recyclable – paper, food tins and drink cans, glass, plastic bottles and pots, aerosols and cartons.  I was nervous my first week of recycling as I know the recycling truck can reject your sack if there is stuff in there that’s not recycable, but off I went at 7am on Wednesday morning to put out our very first 2 sacks on the street. I know this sounds silly but it was immensely satisfying to peek out the window and watch the truck collect my sacks. Perfecto!

Since then, I’ve been recycling with enthusiasm. On a weekly basis, we have 2 sacks and it’s rewarding to see just how much can be recycled. It’s also made me more aware of what I throw out in the rubbish and led to a desire to reduce what we consume and save what we can. I know the law on plastic bags has come into effect, but I’m still proud to say that I bought recycled shopping bags from Waitrose and Asda beforehand! I don’t even know why we didn’t before…it makes packing groceries at the counter just so much quicker.

I hope to teach the bubs to live wisely, to think deeply and be socially conscious about the world we live in. I know that one of the best ways to teach our young is to set an example and a reduction in consumerism, care for our environment, and reusing what we can,  is one that I hope to impart.



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