As you take out your recyclable waste in its green bag every Tuesday night, do you ever wonder how many percent of it actually gets recycled? How many waste actually end up in the landfill and how bad the situation will be years from now? This time, we take a deeper look into the citizens of Cardiff who took one step further in reducing waste.
According to Cardiff Council’s spokesperson, only 58% of Cardiff’s waste gets recycled and composted, the rest, unfortunately, goes straight to landfill. Cardiff Council aims for Cardiff to be a ‘zero waste’ city in 2050. That is a long way away and it surely wouldn’t be possible with only effort from the government, citizens of Cardiff will have to take part on this action as well.
There are absolutely many ways in which citizens can help reach this target by 2050. All sorts of industries will have to chip in to make it happen. It is a good thing the citizens of Cardiff are very aware of this problem and a lot of them are doing the best they can is leaving zero waste.
A café in Cathays Terrace for example, called the Embassy Café, gladly accepts food waste from many sources, cooks them as serves them as delicious food to people. The best thing about it is, all the food there are pay as you feel, meaning you can pay any amount of money you want for the food that you buy from them!
The café was started by two guys in 2016, James Price and John Quigley, who are still running the place. They realize how severe the waste problems are, and decided to do something about it.
“We were discussing how much food were actually getting wasted and we think that it’s a really big issue. It is one of the biggest environmental issues and we thought we should do something about it.” Said James.
That’s when the two boys started contacting supermarkets, market traders, restaurants and business to give them any leftover food that would otherwise get thrown away. Everyday they would serve a different menu according to the materials they receive. The food varies from lentil soup to chilli beans and risotto.
A lot of people may question, if the food is past their sell-by date and unwanted by other restaurants or supermarkets, then is it safe to eat?
Well Josh and James are very concerned with the wellbeing of their customers and would never serve spoiled food. However, they do not follow the he best before date on the food because oftentimes, food is still safe to eat way past the sell-by date. They use another method where they judge the quality of the food by its look, smell and taste.
“We would assess every food that we receive and make sure we only cook the ones that are still fresh and not a slight bit spoiled.” Said James.
The work that they put into this project has helped a lot in minimizing the amount of food waste that ends up in the landfill. James mentioned that the amount of food that they receive could reach 50 to 60 kilograms per day.
“We make sure that all of the food we receive are given away instead of thrown away. If it doesn’t get sold here in the café, we would give it away to shelters and hostels. We make sure none of it gets thrown away.”
By serving food that are past its expiry date, Josh and James hope that it can spread awareness to people to really consider before throwing food away.
Other than food, unused metal scraps are also a concern, most of these scraps come from unwanted vehicles such as cars and bicycles. Imagine if every year students who move back to their hometown just recklessly throw away their bicycles because they are too busy to even consider recycling them. How many of those can actually end up in landfill?
Here is where Cardiff’s Cycle Workshop comes to the rescue. This bicycle recycling center that was set up in 2010, would accept used bicycles from all over the city and repair them to be good as new, and sold to new customers.
“Once we get them here, we look at them, we assess them, we see what’s wrong with them and whether they are worth repairing or not. Once we’re done repairing, we put them up for sale.” Said Jon Howes, workshop coordinator.
Jon also says that last year alone they received 610 bikes and managed to sell 572, which was a really good turnover. If it weren’t for Cardiff Cycle Workshop, all those bikes would end up in landfill.
But what happens if they receive a bike that is irreparable?
“What we’ll do is we strip them apart and we take the parts that we can use, like handlebars, wheels.” Said Jon. “The parts that can’t be used, we take those to the scrap and metal yard to be recycled. “
If you are interested in giving your bike away, you can bring them straight to Cardiff Cycle Workshop. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always drop them at Cardiff Council’s recycling centers. The one at Bessemer Close and Lamby Way has dedicated cages for bicycles.
Another way to help is by buying used bicycles instead of new ones, especially if you know you will only live in the city around 1-3 years. They are also much cheaper so you can save your pocket money! Anyone who is interested in buying used bikes can visit Cardiff Cycle Workshop every Friday from 1 to 5 pm. Cardiff Cycle Workshop is also happy to accept volunteers, more info can be seen in their website www.cycletrainingwales.org.uk
Another waste that is a very big concern is waste textile waste. With the fast fashion culture, the amount of textile waste has risen drastically in the past decade.
Today we see brands making clothes faster than ever before and selling them in really cheap prices. Without realizing it, the price to pay is so much more than just 7 pounds for a pair of pants.
According to Ethical Fashion Forum, as much as 2 million tonnes of clothing are purchased in the UK, and at the same time as much as 1,4 million tonnes of clothing are sent to the landfill every year.
It is a good thing Cardiff has a local hero in the fashion industry. 24-year-old fashion designer, Alexandra Jane feels that she is responsible in doing something to minimize this problem. Xandra, who is currently based in Cardiff, makes sure her clothing creates absolutely zero waste.
She even mentions in her website xandrajane.com how severe the problem is in the fashion industry. She wrote that the fashion industry is second only to oil when it comes to polluting the environment. As much as 80 billion articles of clothing are being consumed each year.
A lot of designers when making garments, they would cut out the shape and discard a lot of materials. This too adds up to the textile waste. Alexandra’s designs are uniquely knitted together to create sweaters and shorts.
She is also planning to use organic denim later on which are less damaging to the environment.
You can check out Alexandra’s work in her website, in her studio at Newport Road, and even in some high-end boutique’s in Soho London.
With the waste issue being as severe as it is now, as citizens it is our responsibility to take part in any way we can. Even the smallest things can really, really make a difference. Here’s how you can take part in making the earth a better place: