As mums, we know the importance of keeping the planet safe for our kid’s futures and while the majority of households in Ireland will recycle glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and cartons, cardboard boxes and tins many don’t realise that household electrical appliances and batteries can also be recycled, which is why here at MummyPages we are so impressed with the work that WEEE Ireland does.
 
Recycling with WEEE Ireland couldn’t be easier, you simply drop off your old appliances at an authorised collection point or when you’re buying a new appliance you can leave it with the store. We chatted with WEEE Ireland’s compliance manager, Elizabeth about how she juggles her busy working role with being a mum and the importance of teaching our kids about the benefits of recycling. 
 
Describe your typical working day?
As any working mum will attest to, it’s all about juggling, and mornings in particular can be a bit chaotic in our house with 2 adults, 2 kids, cat, dog and goldfish to feed and get ready…. We have great support from my mum who is a ‘supergran’ when it comes to childcare and this year our eldest started Montessori which has made us have more of a routine in relation to bedtimes and breakfasts than ever before. But there is someone looking for their socks or teddy or car keys most mornings! The ever handy iPhone is my must have gadget for catching up on emails and my hour long commute gives me  time to make calls and listen to messages before I get to the office .
 
How do you balance being a working mum daily?
I think I am still searching for that balance as I am no supermum, but you do the best you can. A social life and an exercise regime went out the window a fair bit when the kids came along a few years ago, but they are the priority and I enjoy spending time with them more than anything else.  Flexibility is important and for me if that means working a bit later or finishing a report on a Saturday night in return for having breakfast with my kids some mornings then that’s a good compromise. Broadband access at home and smart phones have really helped with this in recent years, although knowing where the off button is is important too!
 
What do you most love about your job?
I have enjoyed the challenge of working with my colleagues to build the WEEE Ireland scheme from start up since 2005 and having a very hands on role in implementing environmental programmes in Ireland relating to WEEE and battery recycling. More recently working with the LauraLynn Charity to promote battery recycling among the public and thereby benefiting the charity has been immensely rewarding as both a mum and a compliance manager.
 
How do you try and incorporate the recycling message into your home? 
Our youngest is still at the stage of trying to eat anything he gets his hands on so he is not quite ready but for our eldest Tadg who is nearly four we always try and get him to make the decision on ‘what bin’ a piece of rubbish goes in. He knows that I collect the batteries and old appliances for recycling, and we try and encourage chats about that and ‘making new from old’. We watched the Wall-E movie recently and I was comparing what I do to that, but now he thinks we have a load of little robots in work helping to squash the electrical waste – almost right! Tadg also comes with me to the recycling centre at the weekend to ‘help’ sort bottles and other items into the right bins which is a great diversion for him and talking point for us both.
 
Over all do you think it's easier these days for working mum's to recycle? 
It can be for some items – the ‘green bin’ is so handy for recycling paper and packaging and there are a lot of additional glass banks around. Civic amenity sites are great recycling centres but for working mums and dads the hours they open aren’t always the easiest to access. At WEEE Ireland we have tried to promote more community based collection events each year at the weekends for WEEE recycling and I hope everyone is aware of the blue battery boxes in our collection area for depositing small waste batteries into when doing the weekly shop. But it is the smaller electrical items like hair straighteners, smaller kitchen utensils, electric tools and waste energy saving lamps we will be targeting next as they are too easy to put in the general rubbish bin!
 
Do you feel it predominantly get's left to mothers in the home to teach and educate children about the importance of recycling? 
It depends on the individual I think at the end of the day. Who is ‘in charge’ of the kitchen drawer or the shed out the back or the garage shelf as they are the places where we feel small electrical items and waste batteries are often left behind. Mums may be the ones to initiate the de-clutter day or the spring clean or pre-Christmas clear out, and those are the times we particularly want to remind people to bring WEEE and waste batteries for recycling. 
 
What advice would you have for other mums about how to teach their children about the importance of recycling?
Getting older kids involved in sorting their old and broken toys and gadgets can really help in this regard and WEEE Ireland has a programme in place run with Rehab Recycle that works to highlight this activity among primary and secondary school children.
 
Are you amazed at how much WEEE waste and batteries are generated in the home? 
Yes – particularly since I became a mum –extra appliances such as sterilizers, monitors and the like that come with having a new baby were all a big surprise to me as well as how many batteries are needed to power the flashy whirring toys that seem to self-multiply in our house every few months. Rechargeable batteries are the way to go in that regard in the long run!  In terms of larger appliances they all seem to meet their end of life at the same time. Our 12 year old fridge is starting to give us trouble and I suspect our oven is beginning to go the same way. If we can’t get them repaired then replacing when we can afford it is on the to-do list and the handy thing is the retailers will take the old items back on delivery so WEEE recycling those items couldn’t be easier.
 
Why do you think that more families aren’t recycling their household WEEE?
Well I hope more and more people are becoming aware of the fact it is free and easy to recycling WEEE and waste batteries. People’s lives are busy with work and families so I understand it is not at the top of a priority list but I hope we can make it easy for them. We are working on more and more community collection events, distributing more battery boxes to shops and promoting recycling centres and retailers for easy take back in your locality – all on www.recyclefree.ie and our facebook page….Our Lauralynn Charity campaign also gives an extra incentive to recycling waste batteries, helping some very special children and their families.
 
Do you feel it's important for schools to get involved with pushing the WEEE and battery recycling messages?  
Of course and our school progamme has been very successful in this regard but I think what happens in the home is even more important as that is where children will learn what will happen in their own households in years to come. Many of the kids today are so gadget savvy and involved in such a ‘hi-tech’ environment compared to our own childhoods that I think the amount of ewaste to be recycled is set to remain high in the near future.
 
If you had one piece of advice for mums about recycling, what would it be?
Get everyone at home involved and its one less job for mum! Also linking into local collection events such as the WEEE Ireland WEEE Wagon Days or recycling batteries to help the Lauralynn charity at your local shop are all easy and free to do….
 

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