A few years ago, the county I live in started up a recycling program. There was a lot of opposition (can you believe that?!?) mainly because people felt the local government was taking away their rights to choose whether to recycle or not. Obviously this is a silly argument because “to recycle” or “not to recycle” is a personal choice that we all make everyday and having a local recycling system just makes that decision easier. Now that I have my own blue recycling bin and biweekly pickup by the city, I’ve kind of become a recycling maniac. Just ask my husband. I’ve turned him in to a recycler as well.
Our local program doesn’t do glass, but it does just about everything else. #1-7 plastics, cardboard, paperboard, mixed paper, newspaper, magazines, wrapping paper, aluminum cans, tin/steel cans, small metal, cell phones, inkjet cartridges. They’ve also just started to do green waste recycling. They don’t do greasy pizza boxes and plastic bags but that’s ok because our local grocery store has a plastic bag recycling program and the local university has a recycling program that takes my glass and greasy pizza boxes.
So how do you get started? It’s easy to forget about recycling if you’re not used to doing it. Here are a few things that have helped us.
-Do a little research on what programs are available in your area. Even if you don’t have a large city wide, curbside pickup recycling program, there are probably drop off points for newspapers, plastics, and glass to be recycled. Look for stores that do specialty recycling such as plastic bag recycling at grocery stores.
-Put a cardboard box or reusable bag next to your garbage can in your house. That way, you’ll have to decide which place to throw it. We keep our garbage under the sink and I found a medium sized box that fits perfectly next to it. You could even let your kids decorate it to get them involved in recycling. Which leads me to my next point…
-Teach the entire family how to recycle. Show them common examples of what can and can’t be recycled by your local programs. If the kids are excited about it they can help remind you.
-Make an effort to recycle where ever you go. It may be inconvenient, but if you can’t find a recycle bin nearby, pack your recyclables back home. Keep a reusable bag in your car or purse for just such occasions.
One of the biggest drawbacks I find is having to rinse out food containers before recycling. The easiest way to do this is to rinse them as soon as you are finished using them. If you wait, the food dries and cakes on and then you have to take soap and a dishcloth to them before tossing them in the recycle bin. It might be difficult to remember to do this at first, but if you keep it up, it’ll become second nature.
If your city doesn’t have it’s own recycling program, it’s something worth petitioning your local government to get. Serious recycling can add years of life to local landfills and reduces pollution from waste incineration. It also gives communities a great way to generate revenue which, in turn, benefits citizens.
Americans throw away on average the equivalent of more than 30 million trees in newsprint every year. Newsprint that could easily be recycled and reused. Up to 80% of the contents of the average household trashcan are recyclable. The amount of aluminum thrown away in the U.S. could rebuild the country’s entire commercial air fleet every three months.*
It’s something to think about.
Once you make recycling a part of your routine, you’ll be surprised how much more quickly your recycling bin fills up than your garbage can. It’s easy to see the difference you are your making and boy, does it feel good.
What have been your experiences with recycling and how do you remember to recycle?