According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 75% of American trash is recyclable, but as a nation we only recycle about 30% of it. The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Whether you are already recycling or plan to start, you can truly make a difference. Help your community grow without waste and make landfills a thing of the past. Together, by recycling, we create a circular economy that keeps things moving instead of dumping useful materials into a land fill. Here are a few tips to make the most of your recycling efforts:
Recycling programs are usually managed at the state and local level. Keep in mind, like everything else, recycling standards change, so stay on top of your local municipalities rules and regulations for recycling. Visit your local recycling center and find out first hand what materials they accept. Check to see if they offer special recycling programs or drives during the year for tires, electronics, Christmas trees, etc. Confirm if you have curbside service or if you must drop off your recyclables.
Before you throw that item away, look to see if it is recyclable. Better yet, before you buy a product look to see if the packaging and the product are recyclable. If not, consider an alternative that is recyclable. Learn the terminology and the codes associated with recycling. Most recycling centers want to educate and encourage citizens to recycle to help end the cycle of filling landfills with unnecessary items.
If something is easy, chances are you’re more likely to do it. Make recycling easy in your home. Set up a recycling center and label bins accordingly. Most people balk that they don’t have room for all the recycling containers. No worries, set up multiple recycle bins where they are most needed, like the kitchen, in the office, and even the bathroom. Your recycling bins don’t have to be monster size trash cans, but modest labeled containers that don’t overwhelm the room and they also serve as a constant reminder to recycle.
Get the whole family involved, especially the kids. By involving your kids, they can be strong advocates to encourage grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other kids to get involved with recycling as well. Teaching kids to recycle is an investment in their future and out planet, one tiny person at a time. Instruct everyone in your household on how to recycle, eventually it will become a habit and you’ll do it without even thinking about it. Keep in mind, a typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That’s a lot of containers — make sure they’re recycled!
Once you’ve gotten into the groove of recycling, expand your list to things beyond just household trash. Before you go out and buy something new, consider looking for gently used versions that can be used again. New products take an extraordinary amount of energy, resources, and money to produce and distribute. Why not save everyone time, effort, and money and find items that can be given a second life, like clothing, cars, and appliances.
To find the recycling center nearest you, call:1 800-CLEANUP and get familiar with your communities recyclables list. To see a list of common recyclables and the associated codes for sorting, visit the EPA.gov for more information. If you want to experience an excellent example of environmental sustainability with an admirable approach to recycling, check out Blue Moon Rising, an eco-friendly resort dedicated to an “earth first” principle.