Do you want to get started with recycling but aren’t sure where to begin? Good for you! The practice goes a long way toward protecting the health of the planet while conserving resources.
To be successful in your efforts, you need to make recycling easy on yourself and your family. By providing appropriate bins and making it a game, you can get everyone involved. You can even expand your green initiatives outside of your home.
1. Identify Your Local Resources
Before you can determine what you’ll need to start recycling, you need to know what resources are available in your area. Some municipalities offer bins for a separate fee. You simply toss all eligible materials in one container and the sorting center does the rest.
Most locales rely on a combination of individual sorting efforts with finishing touches completed by the center. Following the rules carefully prevents otherwise recyclable materials from ending up in the landfill or the incinerator.
2. Learn the Benefits
You’re more likely to adhere to your commitment to going green if you know the benefits. Recycling benefits the planet in several ways, one of which is conserving landfill space. There’s only so much room on earth, and as the population continues to explode, less land is available for refuge.
Chemicals and other toxins can escape from landfills, causing environmental catastrophes. Technological devices and batteries contain toxic levels of mercury that can escape into the soil and atmosphere.
3. Sort the Materials
Assuming you live in a jurisdiction that requires sorting, you’ll need to know how to do so. Most municipalities contain lists of materials you can place together. Common categories include the following.
- Plastic jugs: Things like milk containers and soda bottles.
- Glass: Glass jars and wine bottles are sometimes sorted by colored and clear.
- Aluminum and steel: Most cans can be recycled, as can soda containers.
- Paper: Junk mail and used printer paper as well as newspaper.
- Cardboard: Exercise caution with cardboard. If it’s coated in plastic, some centers will reject it.
4. Invest in Stylish Bins
Sure, you can use old grocery bags, but these wear out and look unsightly. You’ll look forward to recycling more if you have some stylish bins to sort your goods in.
You can invest in a set of hanging bags in multiple colors. Or install bins that glide in and out of a cabinet on tracks. If you have a garage, you can build a set of shelves near your interior door. Line them with large storage containers with handles you can easily lift and transport to the center.
5. Get the Family Involved
Now that you’re all set up and committed to your new greener practice, it’s time to rally the troops. Get your kids involved by holding a recycling relay — place empty containers around the house and see who can find them most quickly. Read books like Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax together and inform your children how they save raw materials by their efforts. lf you catch a little one about to toss a bottle in the trash, gently remind them where it belongs.
6. Take It Beyond Your Home
Think about your last road trip. Chances are, you filled up single-use styrofoam pop containers at one gas station and pitched the trash at another. That’s a tremendous waste. Until more locations offer bins onsite, carry separate bags when you travel. Recycle when you return home or locate a center.
Do people at your office burn through copy paper like water? Place empty ream boxes near machines to encourage peers to recycle misprinted sheets. You can repurpose some sheets and offer to run others to the center — as a bonus, you get to unchain yourself from your desk and get some fresh air when you go.
Recycling Makes a Difference to the Planet
Recycling makes a huge difference in protecting the planet. It keeps hazardous materials out of landfills and prevents the waste of resources. Get started on your green journey today.
By Emily Folk
Conservation and Sustainability Writer