Friday, January 16, 2009

Recycling Made Simple-Tips & Facts to Green Your Routine

Before "going green" was coined as the latest rage, envionmentalists worked hard to spread the message about the 3 R's. It's a mantra well known by even the least green out there: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The first two Rs are straight forward-use less, and reuse what you've got already. Recycling is where many of us throw up our hands in protest, and for a myriad of reasons. I was always too busy, or it was too inconvenient.

photo taken by: Locator

When I finally decided to go for it and give recycling a try, I stood by the sink with a yogurt container and a steel can, wondering if either of them could be recycled. The whats, and hows of recycling can be daunting, but implementing a recycling routine in your family is an important step in the greening process. Here are some basic tips to help you succeed:

What to Recycle

Start with the items that have the fewest "rules":

  • Aluminum: just a simple rinse will do

  • Steel Cans: no need to remove labels, rinse

  • Newspaper: keep it dry

  • Magazines & Glossy Inserts: seperate and keep dry

These are all items that are almost all universally recyclable in any community. The next items will vary in recyclability by your locale's services.

  • Plastics: PETE 1 & 2 are the most recycled plastics & include milk jugs, shampoo bottles, soda bottles, etc. Look for the symbol. Take off caps, unless coded 1 or 2.

  • Glass: You may have to seperate by color, but never include light bulbs, Pyrex, or windows in this mix. Also take off lids and caps. This would include: beer, soda and wine bottles, as well as glass jars. (Oh, and don't worry about getting the lime out of the beer bottle, it won't ruin the mix!)

  • Paper & Paperboard: office paper, cereal boxes, etc. Be careful of wax & paper lined milk cartons and food boxes. These are not recyclable.

  • Corrugated Cardboard: keep dry & clean

  • Plastic Bags: Keep these dry and clean, and turn them in at your grocery store. Hopefully you don't collect many of these because you have switched to reusable bags.

Where to Recycle

Check with your local waste services for common options:

  • Curbside Recycling: generally involves a small fee, however you are provided with bins and it can't get more convenient.

  • Recycling Center Drop-off: This is the more common option, and does require a new routine. We were suprised at how close our drop-off really was, and connected our trips with a weekly trip to the library that was close by. Many grocery stores and schools also have these in their parking lots.

How to Collect Your Recycling

It is important to set up your recycling station at home to be convenient and easy to use. Paper bags & makeshift containers will get frustrating very quickly.

  • Post a Quick Reference Guide: This helps other members of your family know what to throw in the garbage can, and what things are eligible for recycling. Great cheat sheet here.

  • Invest in some Plastic Bins: We use 5 that stack together from our local home improvement store. One of them stays in the kitchen to collect recyclables and is taken to be sorted into the others at the end of the day.

  • Assign Recycling duties: Rotate this chore like you do any others in your home. My kids love doing the sorting at the end of the day, and it takes the stress off me!

Important to Remember:

  • This is a process! Don't sabotage yourself by demanding perfection, every little bit counts. Your little bit does make a difference, and shouldn't be taken lightly!

  • Precycle: Before you buy in the store, take a look at the packaging. Can it be recycled? Could you buy it in a larger container, instead of individual packagings? This is a helpful way to combine reducing and recycling into one step.

Links for the advanced recycler:

With our current economic situation, there are some concerns over recycling. Definately precycle and reuse as much as you can. But I still feel more comfortable recycling my waste when I can, than throwing in the landfill. Working to make recyclables in demand will go a long way into making recycling a great option for the economy and our planet!


Jennifer said...

Fantastic tips! I really like how you talk about keeping the organised until they are ready to be recycled.

Dina said...

What a great list of tips! Very informative - even though I've been recycling for years, I learned some things I did not know. Thanks.

Kathleen said...

Great tips! We're obsessive about recycling, and thankfully our town recycles cereal boxes and various plastics.

Davina said...

I just found your site through Eco-office Gals and am excited to put your link on my blog: I recently moved to Eugene, OR the "greenest" place on earth I swear. We recycle everything and I'm always trying to be better about the 3 R's and being environmentally savvy.

valerie2350 said...

great tips - reducing is an excellent first tip - then you have less of the recycling and reusing to worry about!

Tamara B. said...

Wonderful tips that I plan to implement in our household.

joannaonthelake said...

Really great tips for recycling! I am so glad you took the time to remind us all of what we can do to help make a positive impact on saving our earth and environment simply by making little changes to our lives that pack a big punch if a lot of people do the same! Great work!

Tammi said...

Awesome post! Very thorough.

We are lucky here that we have a huge 90 gallon recycle can (on wheels!) that we can throw all our recycling into and it gets sorted at the center. My almost 3 and 5 years olds love helping me take things out to the garage to put in the can.

bndraldy said...

Thanks for the great list of tips! After you have been recycling for a while, it almost comes naturally. You just have to be persistent!

Carolyn said...

This is a great post! It can be hard to keep track of what can and can't be recycled if you move often. I'm going to post this thorough list to help my house mates remember that they can recycle even more than they already are. Hopefully this will save me some time sorting their mistakes!

Seed Sower Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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