A Year Without Spending – Day 7 – One week in & Recycling

How many phones go to landfill? Why not recycle them for free!
How many phones go to landfill? Why not recycle them for free!

That’s correct folks. I’m now a whole week into the challenge. Only 51 weeks left to go.

I’ve found that by not wanting to spend on items, I’m freeing up a hell of a lot of time for other things, which in turn distracts me from looking at things to buy. Today, as I still sort out the huge piles of junk accumulated over 25 years as an avid consumer, I’ve decided to recycle stuff which will not sell on eBay or would otherwise find it’s way into the dustbin (trash can for any American readers).

Essentially I’ve taken a look at the amount of packaging which adorns everything we consume, and frankly it is quite frightening. Vicki & I at one stage where wheeling out 2 giant dustbins every week for collection. This mostly consisted of polystyrene packaging and plastic. One of the positive side effects of this experiment is that we have hardly any packaging, with the exception of the odd food wrapper.

Our current council is very good at recycling. All our plastic, paper, glass and tin can be recycled on a biweekly basis which instantly frees up a lot of space in the dustbin, and now that we consume less it looks like a monthly collection of our rubbish will be more than sufficient, so long as it doesn’t smell. This in turn saves me the job of carting the thing to the end of the street for collection, and then dragging the empty bins back (see by removing consumerism, you get time back in more ways than you would think possible).

Another by-product of consuming is the collection of Mobile Phone handsets that we have lying around in various cupboards and drawers. Mobile phones are strange as we often upgrade a perfectly good handset for no apparent reason, and because there was nothing wrong with the initial handset we hold onto it as the handset is ‘too good’ to simply throw away. I had around 6 handsets lying around, and all but 1 spare have been disposed of. However I chose not to simply trash the things but seek out environmentally friendly disposal methods.

Enter Envirofone.

Envirofone will allow you to send in your handset for recycling or resale, and if the handset is desirable will even give you a few quid for the thing. This was perfect, out came one of the recycled jiffy bags and in went the old handsets, addressed to their free post recycling department. I didn’t want any cash for the things, I just wanted to know that they would be reused or recycled instead of finding their way into a landfill site.

Next on the recycling hit list was the vast amount of Epson ink cartridges we have amassed. We use Epson printers for our business and go through so many cartridges it is unbelievable (we buy third party cartridges a £1 each instead of the expensive £20-£30 official cartridges). A quick google search revealed that whilst many recycling companies would accept other manufacturers cartridges, the Epson cartridges where too cheap to begin with, and as such nobody would take them. A little more googling revealed that Epson themselves would take the cartridges off our hands and recycle them. Terrific!

A quick web form later and I have a bunch of free post envelopes being sent out to me for the recycling of my old cartridges. This is superb, even less stuff to go in the bin.

Now this bin theory is really appealing to me. The less we fill our giant brown wheely bin, the less we must be consuming and the more we must be recycling & reusing. What a terrific indicator of consumerism, I must come up with a name for this measure, perhaps the trash-O-meter or the dustbin bloat count… Any suggestions?

Between eBay, charity, reuse, recycling and passing things on (remember hand me downs?) we seem to have come a long way in a matter of days to reusing old ‘stuff’ without simply disposing of it like good consumers.

John Large

My name is John Large. I am a Web Developer, E-commerce site owner & all round geek. My areas of interest include hardware hacking, digital privacy & security, social media & computer hardware. I’m also a minimalist in the making, interested in the Tiny House movement & the experience economy along with a strong interest in sustainability & renewable energy. When I’m not tapping on a keyboard or swiping a smart phone I can be found sampling great coffee, travelling the world with my wife Vicki (who writes over at Let’s Talk Beauty) & generally trying to live my life as unconventionally as possible.

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