Help the Environment by Recycling at Home
When you're ready to help the environment by recycling there are some important things to know first.
First, I always suggest reducing how much you actually need to recycle by starting out with precycling, which decreases your trash before you even get it. But let's face it: Even the most conscientious "precyclers" will end up with trash. It's the world we live in and we have a long way to go before seeing major change to our highly-disposable culture.
All materials, especially new, are a finite resource, as is landfill space. So, while recycling at home is second best to minimizing consumption, it is still an important part of green living and always better than the all-too-common "consume, toss, and consume some more" technique.
Help the Environment by Recycling the RIGHT Way
Most people assume this is a pretty straight-forward step to go green. Recycling is just dropping stuff in a bin, right?
Well, not exactly. If not done right for your area, your recycling at home efforts could end up in the trash anyway. Follow these tips to make sure that doesn't happen.
1. Know what can be recycled.
If you're not already set up to recycle your waste, the first step is to check with your local waste services to check out your options.
Every service provider is different, so it's important to inquire as to what items can be recycled, whether or not there is curbside pickup, and how to obtain bins or receptacles. They will also advise you in your pick-up days or drop-off locations and any other restrictions they require you follow.
If you don't do this you could very well find they won't pick up your bins at all, or if they do, they may be forced to throw them out later.
2. Know what can't be recycled.
When you talk to your local waste services about recycling at home, ask what can't be recycled in your area. Also ask about difficult-to-recycle items, such as batteries, electronics, cleaning products, etc.
There may be a special drop-off location for these things, a mail-in option, or there may be some things you want to reconsider buying if they can't be recycled at all. Also, many big home office or electronic stores (such as Office Depot or Best Buy) accept things such as ink cartridges, computers, cords, cell phones, etc. Be sure to call first to save yourself a trip.
3. Get your setup.
Some people prefer receptacles in their kitchen, or directly outside the kitchen door. You could place larger bins in the laundry room or smaller ones under the sink.
We have two trash bins with lids, one for trash and one for recycling. (This isn't including the little bucket on our counter for compost.) You can even get trash and recycling emblems to tell the difference!
Get creative too. For instance, having a bin near your desk just for paper will reduce trips away from your work. Experiment to find best and most convenient way for you to help the environment by recycling.
4. Keep things clean.
Wherever you choose to store your items until pickup, you will need to avoid pests. You should also always rinse items before turning them in for recycling.
The best way of doing so is by rinsing out jars or cans immediately after emptying contents and before tossing them in your bin. This is also important because items that are too dirty will be thrown out by your local facility, instead of recycled.
Don't waste water unnecessarily, though!
Fill the bottom of the jar or container with a half inch of water, close the top and shake vigorously. (When opening an aluminum can be sure to leave the top slightly attached so that it can be pressed down again and allow you to rinse in this manner.) Depending on the contents, this may even be poured into a compost bin!
Help the Environment by Recycling Through Repurposing
There are some creative ways to help the environment by repurposing the not-so-common recyclables.
Old objects make great children's crafts or unique pieces of art. Or look into refashioning - the art of taking old clothing, fabric or blankets and creating new attire, artwork or quilts.
Some plastics and anything made of natural fibers (cotton, wool hemp, etc) can be even be composted.
What kind of creative ways have you seen to help the environment by recycling or repurposing?