Recycling might seem like a simple concept, but that is far from the truth. And in order to be a great recycler and an efficient one, there are a few things you need to know. These tips will help you and your family become a household that lives green and lives better.
1. Understand the three R’s
Most people know what the three R’s stand for, but do you know how to use them?
Reduce: One of the most important ways to have a positive impact on the environment is to actually reduce how much waste you create. There are so many times in our day-to-day lives that we can make conscious choices to use less. Try buying food and supplies in large quantities. When you buy individual snack packs, you waste far more wrapping and packaging then dividing it up yourself. You can also take the time to contact places that send you junk mail and ask to be taken off their distribution lists.
Reuse: Get creative! This part of the cycle is where you get to come up with new and innovative ways to use things again and again. Most communities have reuse centers, where you take unwanted electronics and other household items to be used by others or made into something else. Invest in durable, reusable shopping bags instead of taking plastic bags from the grocery store every time you go. Hand and dish towels can easily take the place of wastefully using paper towels and napkins day after day.
Recycle: Set up a system so that your household can recycle strategically. Place bins in common areas of the house so that someone is more likely to recycle then take the easy route to the garbage can. Check with your local recycling centers so you know what they accept. Most centers accept metals, papers and plastics, but double check just to make sure.
2. Make it Easier
There are a few things that make the process pretty difficult by the time it gets to a recycling center. How can you make it easier? Be sure to rinse out residue and take off excess product that might still be attached. Soda cans, pizza boxes, paper towel rolls and take-out containers are all recyclable, when they are empty! If you drink out of a plastic water bottle, take off the plastic ring and cap before you toss it into the recycling bin. Most bottles that still have these parts are tossed straight to the trash because the task of removing them is too tedious for a recycling company.
3. Think Ahead
Before you buy a product, try and think of ways that you can reuse it. Invest in items that have reusable parts or can be easily upgraded. Identify what kind of packaging something might come in when you order online and see if the company will let you ship the packaging back to recycle it properly. In addition, try to make it a habit to purge through your household frequently to see what you can donate versus just tossing out. Establish a system of not throwing out items that someone else could find use from until you’ve truly tried to get rid of it.