We all know what recycling is and how important it is for our environment in this day and age. So if you haven’t started doing it yet, what’s holding you back? From curbside recycling services to specialty recycling drives, it’s never been easier to reduce and reuse the goods that pass through our home every day.
When you explore the world of recycling, you’ll realize that making a concentrated effort to do better by the environment spills over into every part of your life. Modern recycling goes far beyond your cardboard boxes and soda bottles.
The best part is, it doesn’t take nearly as much work as you think. With an established home recycling system in place, it won’t be long before you, too, will be going greener than ever without batting an eye.
Figure out what you can do from home.
An easy way to dip your feet into recycling is to investigate your local program. Determine whether your county or city has a recycling program in place that you haven’t been taking advantage of, or if you use a private service, see what extras they have available.
Most localities have some basic program in place that takes specific papers, plastics, and sometimes glass. When you reach out, ask them for a written list of the products they accept, and what condition they require their items in. For example, some services require plastics to be clean and dry to be recycled.
Once you got the low down, set up a recycling station in your home. Ensure it’s somewhere easy to access and close to a sink and a trashcan for easy rinsing and sorting. The kitchen and bathroom are both a great place to start. When it’s less of a chore to wash, you’ll be more like to take a second thought before tossing something into the garbage. You’ll have no excuse not to recycling when it’s this easy.
Don’t feel like you have to use any boring old container to recycle, either. Decorating your recycling bins with fun signage, paint, or using a fun basket to make it more appealing add a little spice to something not so exciting. Jazzing up the bins is something the whole family can do, so you can trick the kids into going green.
Challenge yourself to do more.
Once you’ve started doing it, you’ll realize recycling isn’t the big wicked beast you’ve always thought it was – it’s actually really easy! And could you be recycling other things? Absolutely.
The mountain of plastic bags you’ve been collecting in your pantry is a great example. Plastic bags can take 10-20 years to decompose, and when tossed improperly, we can damage our ecosystems and the critters within them.
Luckily, they’re also effortless to recycle! Most grocery stores have a large bin where you can dispose of your bags and ensure they’re not disappearing into a landfill for the next few decades.
Keep an eye out for less-frequently-tossed items that you can recycle as well. Batteries, computers, or used up appliances are great examples of things you don’t throw out every day but can still recover. You may be able to do so at a local electronics store or a recycling drive happening somewhere nearby. They often offer recycling services beyond your standard paper and plastic.
Get extra crunchy with it.
It doesn’t have to stop there. Once you open up the door to the world of recycling, you’ll realize how many ways you can integrate it into your life.
Composting is a great way to watch recycling happen right in front of your eyes. Put a bin in your kitchen and collect any food waste, like veggie cuttings or eggshells, and newspaper and cardboard. When the bin is full, take it out to a pile in your yard, or make a compost bin out of a storage container or barrel. As your scraps pile up, water and stir them regularly. By next season, you’ll have a pile of nutrient-dense earth to start your garden with. Wow!
You can also reuse your water. Sounds kind of gross, but keep reading. If your shower allows it, bring your plants in with you to get a good rinse – or simply collect extra water in a bucket and distribute it afterward. After boiling eggs, take that water (once it cools), water your garden beds, or keep it hot and pour it on weeds as a natural herbicide. Add a rain barrel to one of your gutters and use that water for anything that doesn’t go in your body, like lawns, car washing, etc.
Buy with recycling in mind.
Now that you’re a recycling expert, it’s time to turn that around and encourage others to recycle. Your spending is a powerful way to use your voice. If we choose to buy items made with recycled materials, it helps companies to do more of that – and promotes recycling to keep up with demand.
These aren’t gross items, either. Some big-name brands make products using recycled materials, like Keen, Dakine, and Allbirds. You can get everything from workout leggings to bicycles made out of reprocessed and reused materials. Seeing the fruits of your labor in a fresh product you can actually use priceless.
Choose products with packaging that you know you’ll recycle at home – or even better, packaging that you can repurpose into something else. Glass jars can be reused for storage, repurposed into vases, and used for about 10 million projects. Plastic? Less so.