The ideal strategy for products consumption is zero waste. The garbage bin should be empty. so the nature is not polluted. In some countries government and business takes care of our garbage bin, so we can be sure that everything thrown there is reused somehow. Japan builds islands and increases its country land by building territory out of the garbage. Sweden makes electricity and heat out of the garbage. China also started making a lot of efforts for recycling of trash.
However many countries still don't recycle most of the trash. Russia, Ukraine and others bury it under the ground, throw it to rivers, sea and the ocean. This presents danger to the fresh water worldwide stock and fish population. While government doesn't take care of our trash, we need to take care of this ourselves. What is more pleasant, this could be profitable by saving some money in our pockets.
At home, we don't have a capacity to recycle the trash, i. e. convert it to the less harmful form for the nature. However we have full capacity for reusing it. Hereby, there are some notes regarding to how to reuse some types of trash at home.
Someone could say, I am too greedy and petty, so I try to save every penny. Yes I do. Because better I save our nature by pennies rather than polluting it with tons of chemicals and other trash. My penny shows an example to others who will eventually save millions.
For me personally, thinking about trash reuse is a kind of game. This is a Tetris. We need to find a right place for every piece of stuff that is coming to us.
Data below is organised in two ways: type of garbage and type of the products that we can make out of the garbage. Visually it can be drawn like a chess board (matrix).
While politicians create laws to feed big corporations, people suffer. Let's stop feeding corporations at least at the local level. We finance multi billion companies like Unilever and Mars by buying their products and eventually polluting our planet with plastic packages. Let's change our habits and show example to others. Let's leave our planet clean to our children. Btw, at school teachers preach to children RRR: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle...
We don't care what happens with the trash because it is going somewhere out of our apartment. Whilst we care about our house only. This is totally wrong.
God gave us this planet, God gives us our lives. God never wanted to pollute the most beautiful world. Neither he wants to destroy until he is angry on us. We are the joined owners of this planet and we all have joined responsibility for this world. Regardless of who is listed in the title deed of the particular piece of land. Deed is a paper created by county clerk whilst the land was created and given to us by God. I respect God more and I believe he wants me to respect his creation.
It is your trash, it is your landfill, it is your city, it is your country, it is your planet. Anyway, are you sure you wouldn't be penalized after death for such reckless behavior?
Examples of reduce
I ask barista to put coffee into my own thermos instead of taking paper or plastic cup even though the cup per se is free.
I prefer to refill existing water bottle instead of buying new plastic bottle of water.
In Europe, it is a good practice to use public transportation or car pooling instead of driving a car alone.
I don't buy new stuff whether it is a car or a t-shirt. Not only this saves money in my wallet; it also saves ecology of our planet. Though ideal way is not to buy new stuff: repair old ones instead.
Make a political vote, make a customer vote
Companies like Unilever and Mars intentionally pollute our planet. Shampoo from Unilever can be distributed without plastic bottle (like it was 100 years ago). Mars chocolate cookies can be sold without plastic film, using e. g. paper instead etc. However companies intentionally use plastic because it is cheaper and their products are more profitable. Vote against consumption of Mars and Unilever products. Buy more eco-friendly alternatives instead. Vote against politics who merely ignore the option to make a legal ban on one-time use plastic manufacturing (such as utensils and package).
Reduce should start from manufacturer not from customer
Everybody knows alcohol and tobacco are harmful. So the government strictly regulate manufacturers not the customers. With the recycling industry, situation is opposite. Customers are penalized for not throwing the bottle in a proper bin. The plastic manufacturer should be strictly regulated, taxed and penalized and kept responsible for any contamination cause by its product.
Coca Cola, Mars and Unilever companies do not bet on their manufacturing and logistics department. The sun in every company is the marketing department. Marketing is the head of everything. Marketing is to persuade us to pay money for the shit we don't need. Not only soda drink or mars cookies are useless for our health. It is harmful, unhealthy, causes diabetes, cancer and other deceases. Government prohibits advertising alcohol, however it should do the same for many retail producers.
At school, students study recycling. However recycling is just to eliminate consequence of manufacturing the garbage. Instead, we should be focused on the root cause of pollution. Root cause is not lack of recycling; root cause is manufacturing.
Principles of reuse
Reuse instead of buying new
I like to sew up old jackets. I don't care if they look too bad or too cheap. For me, my jacket is already beautiful just because I like it.
Recently I paid for repair of my old shoes. I just don't have a skill to repair them. Also, money paid help to feed family of the repairman.
I do not get rid of banana peels even when I am far from home. I put them in a separate package in my backpack, right next to my laptop. If I need to go to a toilet on the same day I use them as a toilet paper.
I do not hesitate to tell others about my way of using of banana peels as a toilet paper. Even if 9 out of 10 people would laugh at me, 1 out of 10 could follow my example. In turn, he will become an example for others.
Stack the trash
In the future people will not use such terms as "landfill" or "polygon". Instead, we will say something like "recycles warehouse" or "storage". Nothing should be digged into the ground, nothing should be burned. Instead, everything should stored and later used.
If I don't know what to do with the garbage I put it into the stack. If I know what to do with the garbage I take it out the stack. If some section of the stack is overwhelmed with one type of garbage, then I take a look at this post reference and see what else can I do with the garbage apart from just getting rid of that.
The art is how to properly organize stack and sorting system. When I lived in a house with a large basement I used the whole basement square for storage of multiple large cardboard boxes. Each box had a label with a type of a garbage, e. g. paper, plastic etc.
Americans say "Better to wear out than to rust out". God gave us lifetime. Thus it is a crime in front of his eyes to waste our lives. We need use every moment as much as we can. It is well illustrated in the Parable of the talents in Bible.
The same principle I apply to any other resources given to us. Time is the major resource. However everything else we have should also be considered as a resource. Garbage is the resource, trash is the resource. The only question is how to properly use it and organize it.
Proposal for new laws
Government should prohibit all the unnecessary and harmful for ecology products. Not only plastic pollutes our nature. Paper results in decrease of trees population, in turn trees are supposed to produce oxygen and neutralize CO2. In libraries and schools, all the paper books and notepads should be prohibited and replaced with touch pads, phone apps, laptops. Don't worry, student will not become stupid by studying with iPad. They will become smarter. In the US, Paperwork Reduction Act became one of the first step towards saving our planet. It is not enough however.
Do not trash
Ideally there should not be such a thing as a trash bin. All the trash should be reused domestically instead of recycling. See options for reuse supra.
Minimum effort for recycling
At the first sight, the question "how to recycle" was already answered. Everything is clear: sort the garbage, transport it to the recycling plant and they will melt new raw materials out of it. However, recycling plants have multiple disadvantages.
However, the plant is the most expensive and non-efficient level of recycling. At the manufacturing level, the garbage needs to be collected, transported, sorted, cleaned, dried, sorted again, melted, formed, packed and transported and sold to the new customer. This is a multi million infrastructure that needs to be served by huge machines and managed by qualified engineers. That's why payback period for new plant investment is very high.
I suggest the simpler and more efficient way for recycling. Firstly, the garbage should be reused immediately, right at the dwelling. Only excessive leftovers are to be sent to the manufacturing plant. Secondly, the process of recycle should be simple and easy. Thus I use term "reuse" instead of "recycle". Instead of melting the garbage into raw material, we can merely find a way to reuse it.
See how standard recycle process works. Washington Post paper can be thrown into the garbage bin, then transported to recycle center, the sorted there, cut into pieces, mixed with other materials, stamped and formed, and than it becomes a part of new raw paper. Than this raw paper comes to another plant and another plant makes a toilet paper out of it, than it goes to retail network, where we have a lot of other overheads for storage, transporting, managing and eventually selling this toilet paper back to us (to the customer).
I suggest another version of the same process. Instead of throwing the paper into the garbage bin, we soak it for few minutes. The paper is converted into wipes by merely soaking, and we can use it immediately as a toilet paper, bypassing all this expensive industry. Instead of converting garbage into raw material, we immediately convert it into the final product.
Recycling process per se should not harm ecology
Sweden burns its trash and gets electricity power and heat out of it. However, burning results in CO2 exhaust and decreasing O2 level in our planet. The best way to recycle is mechanical recycling without using heat. Even better is reuse. Reuse is always preferable in comparison to recycle.
If reuse is not possible, cold recycle is preferable in comparison to hot recycle. That means, we can recycle trash mechanically, without melting or burning. Like e. g. cut plastic bottles into threads for brooms.
Manufacturers should also reuse instead of recycle
When I was a kid, we collected glass bottles from neighborhoods and brought them to the store. The store paid us some penny because the alcohol plant could reuse these bottles. They did not melt bottles, they did not crush them. Instead, they just washed them and sticked new labels and then put there alcohol (or soda) drinks and sent back to the store for sale. Why don't do the same with plastic bottles?
Recycle creates a lot of problems for ecology and economics. Large percentage of plastic still goes to the landfill and ocean during the recycle process because it is not sorted out. Melting results in dangerous exhausts.
The only reason why manufacturers do not reuse their own packages: politicians don't implement consequent laws. If they would like to, they would resolve the problem in 1 month. No more plastic in the ocean, no more plastic at the landfill. How? Very easy. See infra.
Proposal for new laws
Set up very high tax on the plastic package manufacturers. Or on the consequent equipment.
Set up very high sales tax on the oil and gas sold to plastic manufacturers. Then retail producers will be forced to find cheaper packaging such as glass bottles or reusing existing plastic ones.
If the environment is polluted, the manufacturer should be penalized, not the customer. E. g. every manufacturer should stamp its name on the plastic bottle. Once the bottle is found at the street, the manufacturer is penalized.
Plastic package sizes should be unified. So Pepsi and Coke bottles should be of the same size and the same form. So they are interchangeable. That will make sorting and recycling processes much easier.
However, retail, oil and gas corporations lobby is very strong and it still affects decisions made by politicians.