The “inheritance” of recycling

Nieves Rey is Director of Communication and Marketing at Ecoembes

“Don't throw away that jar, I'm going to make jam and it keeps very well there.” “Leave that ham bone aside for me, and I'll use it later to make a stew.” “Be careful with those pants, don't break them, they'll be worth it to your cousin later.” What circular economy lessons our grandfathers and grandmothers gave us, when no one even knew the term yet. Reuse was deeply rooted in the mentality of his generation. Perhaps out of necessity or, perhaps, because of a much more practical and less consumerist logic than that of the current moment.

The ability to adapt also very well defines the generation of our grandfathers and grandmothers, who have experienced many of the greatest changes and advances of humanity in a few decades. And it has adapted to all these changes, not without complaining, but, in many cases, leading the adoption of new habits. In fact, they lived the birth and evolution of the habit of recycling and readjusted the space in their homes, which went from having a single garbage can to having several to separate waste.

They had to learn to recycle and do it well. To yellow, plastic, metal, wooden containers and cartons. To blue, paper and cardboard. To the green, the glass. In orange, organic waste. To the gray, the remains… A wide range of colors and containers that are here to stay and that they integrated into their lives with total naturalness. A quarter of a century later, the oldest people prove to be the most committed to this habit: 61.9% of recycling households in Spain are made up of people over 50 years of age.

But the most important thing is that, in addition to having been pioneers in recycling, our grandparents – and our parents, in my case – have been true “influencers”. The learning that they have left us, since childhood, has helped many of us to unabashedly acquire the habit of recycling and, above all, to recognize the intrinsic value of giving a new life to materials. To believe, in short, that every small gesture can have a significant impact on our planet.

Although it is often not visible, around us we can see the result of the circularity that we achieve by recycling: in the clothes we wear or in the street furniture in the parks where our children play. What one day was an empty plastic container in the yellow bucket, the day after tomorrow it can be part of a new product, but avoiding the need for new raw materials to manufacture it. Recycling is useful because each recycled container can be transformed into a new object. I'm not saying it, but it is stated by 89% of recycling households in our country.

On a day like today, World Recycling Day, we celebrate the ability we have to give new life to packaging through recycling and we celebrate all those people who, day after day, recycle more and better, aware of the need to leave the generations to come a cleaner planet. And precisely on a day like today, we must “recycle” the teachings of our grandparents, their desire to learn, their predisposition to do a little better and share with those who have not yet recycled the usefulness of this small, great gesture. Because, without them it will be impossible for us to “inherit” that future without waste that we dream of (and for which we work) at Ecoembes. Is our turn. Let's take over from our elders. Let's educate and train new generations who, in a completely natural way, save on resources, consume wisely, reuse as much as possible, repair and recycle (more and better).

Nieves Rey, Director of Communication and Marketing at EcoembresEcoembres