Why I hate recycling

person using the bottle bank

Yep I said it, I hate recycling. Bet your’e thinking it’s that’s a strong statement to come from someone who calls themselves ‘thrifty’ Well, more specifically I hate recycling at the tip. What was once my secret pleasure that would make me tingle with excitement and anticipation is now a place that makes my heart sink and brings feelings of hate towards modern society. Yep, the tip.
The other day we visited the tip to recycle waste from my outdoor birthday party. While friends cooked bacon and drank tea on the morning after the night before, I dug my hands deep into bags of rubbish and risked attacks from the gathering wasps to separate it into recyclable piles. Used wet wipes, sausage halves, plastic trays and half drunk tinnies all covered in dripping meat juice – it doesn’t bother me. I was content. I was doing my bit for the world. I was recycling.

recycling skips

Once upon a time, the tip was an excuse to skip raid and return with free delights. It was exciting to find an item worth money (that I didn’t necessarily need) and felt good bring something home that would have, otherwise, just ended up in the landfill. It was the ultimate thrifting pastime for me. It’s something I kept quite at school age due to fear of being thought disgusting. I was already teased for living in a static caravan (while my parents built the house) and not having a toilet (a spade and bog role is all that is required in the sticks) but skip raiding would just add fuel to the already raging fire. One day the cat did come out of the bag. Luckily when I was in sixth form, my friends had the maturity to accept, if not understand, my love of skip raiding. My best friend was visiting when my step father handed me my new ‘gifts’ from his latest tip raid; a compact umbrella and a pocket fold-up hair brush. “I’ll wash the brush before you use it” my step dad claimed. And that was that. But luckily, my friend wasn’t surprised.  That was 9 years ago and the brush is still in my handbag.

oven recycling

A few years ago this all changed. No longer are you aloud to take from the skip due to ‘health and safety’.  Just in case you poke your eye out on the spokes of that umbrella you took or your hair falls out from using that hairbrush.
“But please Mr skip man” I would plead to the staff, “please let me take that sofa for my next out door party”.
“No ma’ love, I can’t let you do that, it’s against the rules” he replied.
“But…but… it will only get thrown into the landfill and that’s ridiculous when I can give it a home”.
“No can do, love, sorry”.
Yesterday’s visit to the trip brought back that anger I had felt when I saw the 3 piece sweet tumble into the container. While ‘doing my bit’ recycling, dodging more wasps and getting covered in more beer juice, I posted the bottles into the bank while watching a woman carry 4, perfectly fine, black plastic dustbins up the steps of the ‘All other waste’ container; the one that goes to landfill. My heart sunk. Nothing was wrong with them! I could have happily taken them to use as bins at the next party. The tip staff helped by taking them from her and leaving and left them aside while they moved to help someone else. I was tempted to run up the steps and grab them while the staff were occupied. But I didn’t dare.

recycling skip

I watched a man take what looked like parts of a bed and throw them in the same container. I need a bloody bed! And I’m watching one go to landfill right in front of me. It’s ridiculous.
I get that the councils are just protecting themselves but I absolutely hate that perfectly usable things end up in the landfill because of ‘politics’. Our modern society based on consumerism is killing the planet. We just throw things away if they break because it’s cheaper than getting them repaired or we don’t have the skills or the time to repair things ourselves. It makes me feel that my recycling efforts are just not comparable to the amount of stuff that gets shoved in a landfill. Especially knowing that a lot of recyclable waste gets sold and shipped to third world countries- using fossil fuels to get it there. So much for sustainability. It sometime feels pointless, but I tell myself it’s a start and I should feel happy I am ‘doing my bit’.

Ps. are any of you lovers of a good skip raid?

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.

  • Anonymous

    I can't walk passed a skip without taking a peek! It's so silly that your local tip won't let you take stuff away especially given the increasing interest in recycling and upcycling!

    I totally understand the feeling of it all being pointless but, you are right, you are doing your bit and that's what counts and blogging about it sets an example to other 🙂 x

  • It's such a shame when you see things like this happening – I'm not sure what the suggestion is, councils aren't likely to change their minds. I have tried things like Freecycle, but it's so disheartening to be let down by someone who wanted to come and collect something, again and again.

  • Hi, great to hear from another skip raider! I understand why they can't let people take things in case they fly tip the items at a later date, but it does seem silly. There must be another way. Maybe there needs to be better incentives to recycle and remove the option for good things to be thrown in the landfill x

  • I totally agree, especially after you take the time to keep re-listing it and communicating with the potential buyer for them to just not turn up x

  • Loved this post and your honesty. I was a charity shop girl myself. I grew up in a poor family and all our clothes (bar our school clothes) came from the cheapest places possible. I still like popping my head in and having a nose. It's a shame more people don't use second hand stuff. I love browsing freecycle to see what people are giving away. I got a good sofa bed that way xo