Is a plant-based diet best for the environment?

While there’s no doubt a plant-based diet is, overall, better for the environment than a meat-based diet, eating vegan isn’t completely flawless.

From exotic fruit and veg that clocks up air miles, to nuts that use eyewatering amounts of water, there’s more to being plant-based than just giving up meat and dairy.

Continue reading Is a plant-based diet best for the environment?

6 craft ideas for upcycling wine corks

After reusing or recycling your empty wine bottles, you may be left wondering what you can do with the leftover corks.

Whether you’ve found yourself left with a collection to shift or need inspiration for your next craft project, reusing wine corks is incredibly easy and fun.

Can you reuse wine corks?

Good news – it’s straightforward to sterilise wine corks and give them a new lease of life.

After careful cleaning, wine corks are versatile additions to any craft box. The only ‘rule’ when reusing wine corks is it’s best not to use them to seal a new wine – bacteria may have contaminated the old cork, which in turn may affect your wine. On a health basis, we don’t advise it.

How to clean wine corks

It’s essential to clean your corks first to ensure they are safe for upcycling projects.

It’s easy to clean them at home by steaming or boiling them for an extended period of time, ensuring any unwanted bacteria and smells are eradicated. Around 90 minutes should do the trick, then leave them to dry completely before using.

What to do with wine corks

Glass of wine standing on table made from used wine corks

There are plenty of craft projects with wine corks out there for you to try. We’ve highlighted some of our favourites below.

‘Rustic chic’ is trending in interior styles, and this wine cork crafted monogram makes the ideal housewarming gift. Wooden letters are easy to find in most DIY shops or online, and then it’s simply a case of covering the base with your glued corks.

Entertain the kids in winter and get them involved with this homemade festive edition of noughts and crosses. You’ll have hours of fun with the little ones painting these adorable reindeer and snowmen figures, and the result is an eco-friendly game that you can cherish for years to come.

These cork keychains look cool and have a practical purpose too – keeping your keys afloat. Take them to the beach and enjoy peace of mind next time you go for a dip. Get some small screw eyes and thin rings and insert them into the undamaged end by the corkscrew.

If you’re stuck on what to do with your leftover champagne corks and have a big event or wedding coming up, assign seats with these pretty carved out cork placeholders. They also make great wine/cheese labels for vineyard themed events. All it takes to make these is a sharp knife, a steady hand, and patience. Ensure you chop off an edge so the cork lies flat before slicing into the cork for an area to place your card.

Jazz up your plain glass vase with a selection of corks, turning a passed-over piece into a stylish conversation starter. Get yourself a cube or rectangular shaped vessel, your cork collection, and some heavy craft glue, before arranging and glueing your corks as you wish. Don’t be afraid to cut the corks to size or even arrange them in a decorative pattern.

Did you know that soaking natural cork in acetone alcohol for a week will turn them into candles? Take care when lighting them, as they’ll produce a bigger flame than standard candles – recommended for outdoor use only.

What to do with synthetic wine corks

Many wines now come with synthetic corks, which are plastic sponge tubes that sometimes have a mushroom cap.

Most craft projects out there can also be undertaken using synthetic corks, especially where the material itself is not critical to the end result, i.e. it’s just for decoration. Don’t use the plastic corks if you’re doing anything with heat, as these will melt and leave a nasty residue.

Other practical uses for synthetic wine corks include cabinet door bumpers, furniture handles, DIY washers, or even protective caps for knives.

Can you recycle wine corks?

Wine cork from from semi-sweet wine, cork from white wine and cork from red wine among other corks on rusty background

Although wine corks are made from natural materials (oak), their recycling process differs from that of other materials, meaning many councils do not accept them in their household recycling collection.

If you have a home compost bin, you can put your wine corks here. They can also be used as mulch on plants when chopped into small pieces.

Cork recycling schemes have attempted to address the issue of waste in the wine industry, launching a service which allows people to send in their old wine corks.

Recorked UK is the most popular scheme, and they also donate a portion of their profits to nominated charities. Some of your corks will even be donated to schools and organizations for use in craft projects.

Majestic Wine also launched an ambitious scheme, running the UK’s first-ever cork harvest. Partnering with the Portuguese Cork Association (where many natural corks come from), customers will be able to pop their wine corks into recycling bins in-store. They will then be handed over to the Eden Project and used for enriching soils and protecting roots.

 

Want to know what happens to your empty wine bottles? Learn how Forge Recycling can help take care of your glass waste here.

How zero waste shops work: a beginner’s guide

You may have heard the phrase ‘zero waste’ more of late.

Up and down the UK, consumers are seeking more eco-friendly ways to restock their everyday essentials – and this is where zero waste shops come in.

The zero waste lifestyle

Leading a zero waste lifestyle involves cutting down on the amount of waste you produce. For many, that includes eliminating unnecessary packaging, especially when it comes to food and everyday essentials.

Switching to eco-friendly alternatives such as reusing glass jars and avoiding plastic-covered fruit and vegetables is integral to a zero waste lifestyle.

Each year, the UK generates more than two million metric tons of plastic packaging waste, while the amount of food waste the UK produces is worth around £19 billion a year. By only shopping for what you need and bringing your own containers, zero waste shops help cut down these shocking figures.

What is a zero waste shop?

Most zero waste shops operate in a similar manner. Usually, the store will have a range of loose produce for sale, allowing customers to bring in their own containers and fill them up with the desired amount.

Customers are then charged by the weight of the item, meaning they can purchase as much or as little as they wish.

Most zero waste shops stock everyday items such as rice, pasta, pulses, nuts, and spice. Some will also offer non-food zero waste alternatives, such as refillable washing-up liquid, haircare, laundry detergent, and soap.

You may also find loose tea, oils, sauces, and refillable vegan milk options. As demand for the market grows, zero-waste shops are constantly adding more products to their shelves, so be sure to regularly check your local for new items.

How do zero waste shops work?

Before visiting a zero waste shop, remember to bring your own container. This can be a jar, Tupperware, or even a robust bag – whatever is most suitable for holding your items.

Most products in a zero waste shop are charged by weight, usually per gram or kilo.

You’ll start by calculating the weight of your container so it can be removed from the final cost. All zero waste shops will have at least one scale for customers to operate. A label may also be printed – attach it to your container before filling it up.

Fill your container with the desired amount. One advantage of zero waste shops is that you can tailor your purchase to your particular needs, which is perfect for smaller households.

Take the filled container back to the scales and calculator and find out the new weight. This, minus the weight of your empty container, is what you’ll pay for.

Most zero waste shops operate in this way, however, be sure to ask about the process when you arrive before starting your shopping.

Zero waste shops near me

You’ll find a zero waste shop in most areas of the country nowadays, including many in the Leeds and wider Yorkshire region. Supporting these independent businesses is a fantastic way to cut down on your plastic waste and do your bit for the planet.

ecoTopia has two Leeds-based physical stores as well as an online shop, offering nationwide delivery. The Central Arcade shop is also part of the TerraCycle scheme, collecting hard-to-recycle items such as toothbrushes, biscuit wrappers, and crisp packets, which wouldn’t be accepted in your curbside wheelie bins.

The Refill Jar is another online zero waste shop and physical store based in the heart of East Yorkshire. As well as refillable food items, the shop also offers a number of baby products and personal care items, which are all eco-friendly and sustainable.

Serving the area of Doncaster and surrounding areas is Artisan & Eco, a zero waste shop that stocks a range of pulses, pasta, oils, cleaning products, and more. The shop also sells handy ‘ready to go refills’, including a bread mix, gingerbread mix, and a zero waste basics box.

Other local zero waste shops include:

Online zero waste shops

If you want to try the zero waste lifestyle but don’t have a shop nearby, online zero waste shops could be the answer.

EcoRefill sticks to the zero waste pledge by delivering all items in plastic-free, reusable, and recyclable packaging. The company also offers free returns for all packaging, so no waste ends up going to landfill.

For a sustainable food delivery that will help your home compost, Zero Waste Bulk Foods are another online choice. The company delivers items in biodegradable packaging made from cellulose and derived from renewable wood pulp. The USP is that, unlike some compostable plant bags, these are safe to compost at home. They are also approved for anaerobic digestion and marine biodegradation.

 

Find out how Forge Recycling can recycle your food waste, reducing your business carbon footprint by cutting the amount of methane and toxic leachate entering the environment.

15 tea bags that are plastic-free and deliciously eco-friendly

It’s no secret that the UK enjoys a cuppa.

In fact, it’s estimated the British drink around 100 million cups of tea every day – almost 35 billion per year.

If you’re part of the majority and are looking for ways to make your brew more eco-friendly, switching to plastic-free tea bags is a great place to start.

Continue reading 15 tea bags that are plastic-free and deliciously eco-friendly

5 great ways to recycle wine bottles

Late night boozing left you with an influx of empty wine bottles? Party remnants piling up in your recycling bin?

Upcycling wine bottles and turning them into beautiful home ornaments are all the rage and, luckily for us, is a quick and easy trend to recreate. Turn your empty tipples into stylish wine bottle décor while doing your bit for the planet.

Continue reading 5 great ways to recycle wine bottles

How to prepare a computer for recycling

Whether you’re upgrading your laptop, tablet or desktop, or simply looking to throw away a faulty computer, recycling your tech properly is incredibly important.

This guide will help you to prepare your computer for recycling and where to dispose of it correctly.

What are computers made of?

Modern-day computers consist of various parts made of many different materials. In fact, over 50 of the world’s 90 naturally occurring elements are used in computing devices.

You’ll find common metals like copper, lead, and gold in most computers, as well as elements like aluminum, zinc, and silicon.

Plastics in computers are used to both protect components from heat and to conduct electricity, known as polymer capacitors.

You may also be surprised to learn that a number of rare earth metals are contained inside your computer. Hard disks often use ruthenium – rarer than both gold and platinum – while another material, hafnium, is predicted to run out in the next ten years.

Despite this plethora of materials, most computers can be safely recycled or reused. Disposing of your electronic waste correctly can help prevent it from ending up in landfill and damaging the environment with toxic materials.

What happens to computers when they are thrown away?

Over 90% of the world’s e-waste is illegally recycled, often transported to countries thousands of miles from the original disposal location.

Not only does this harm the environment, but it can also be unsafe on a more personal level. Cybercriminals often scavenge e-waste, searching for valuable information that has not been properly wiped before a computer’s disposal.

Computer recycling is therefore important for several different reasons.

What to do before recycling a computer

Computer hard disk drive. Hard disk drive HDD

Before recycling your computer, you must properly wipe your laptop, tablet, or desktop of all sensitive personal information.

Most computers contain a return to factory reset option, which will erase all unoriginal programs, software, and files. Make sure to back up anything that you want to use on your new device.

Be sure to also give your computer a proper clean, especially if you are planning to resell your device for parts. Computer cleaning kits are cheap to purchase and easy to use.

How to remove your hard drive from a computer before recycling

Deleting and backing up the files on your hard drive is not enough – a deeper shred and sanitisation is required, to protect it from being accessed by hackers with specialist equipment.

For those of us without an industrial-strength shredder at home, bashing your hard drive with a hammer is one effective option. Others also prefer to snap or bend the hard drive prior to computer recycling.

If necessary, you can also purchase a hard drive crusher from various computing stores. This is one option if the information stored on your hard drive is particularly confidential.

How to prepare a laptop for recycling

Similar to a desktop, the hard drive of your laptop also needs to be properly wiped and destroyed prior to recycling. Carefully remove the hard drive or, if physically destroying it is not possible, use data shredding software. There are lots of options available readily online.

A factory reset and deep clean are also needed before recycling your laptop. If reselling, ensure all the parts are in working order and notify the new buyer of any faulty sections.

How to recycle a tablet

Tablets are often recycled in the same way as mobile phones. Many companies will take in your working and broken tablets in exchange for cash, depending on the condition of the device.

Be sure to back up your files, properly wipe your tablet of all personal information using sanitation software, then restore the device to its factory reset.

If you have a mobile data service linked to your tablet, remember to cancel any subscriptions.

Finally, give the tablet a deep clean using appropriate products.

Where to recycle a computer

Woman working on laptop from home. Busy people lifestyle.

Depending on the nature of the device – broken or working – you have a number of options when it comes to recycling your computer.

Donate

If you’re simply upgrading your computer to a newer model, many local charities would be happy to receive your old working device.

Ask around or do some research into non-profit groups in your area that could benefit from a second-hand computer. Make sure to include any instruction manuals and cables that came with the computer as well.

Resell

If your computer is still in good working order, you may find that someone will pay a good price for it. Resell your desktop, laptop, or tablet on local community sites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, or eBay if you are able to ship further afield.

The parts of your computer may also be desirable to some tech experts, even if the rest of the machine isn’t working. Just remember to specify the exact condition of the device on the listing.

Larger companies such as Music Magpie, CeX, and Ziffit also enable customers to sell or recycle their old tech for the money. The price given varies on the model and condition of the device, but it could mean that you get some bucks for your broken computer.

Recycle

Most computers can usually be recycled at household waste recycling centres, while laptop batteries can be recycled with normal household batteries at battery collection points. Find your nearest computer recycling location here.

If you need to recycle multiple computers, Forge Recycling offers domestic and commercial waste clearance that can help with disposing of your old office equipment in the Yorkshire area. Get in touch now to discuss your best options.