We constantly hear about how much waste we produce—every time we go to the grocery store we see excessive packaging—whenever we have an item shipped we receive it with enough bubble wrap and Styrofoam chips to cushion a fall from an airplane.
While the first thing we should focus on is to reduce waste by buying things not packaged excessively, buying things secondhand, or repairing/renovating what we already have, the next step would be to recycle effectively. The good news is that more than 70% of your trash is recyclable—which means less waste in our landfills and less harm to our environment.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Separate your cans, bottles, plastic, and paper/card board right when you unpack your groceries or finish something. By having dedicated buckets in your home you’ll be more inclined to separate your waste.
- Check the bottoms of your plastic items for the number printed on them, and make sure your plastic recycle program includes all the plastic varieties you are throwing into the bin.
- Styrofoam is often not recycled, so try to avoid using Styrofoam take-out containers and reuse packaging.
- Keep a ‘green-bin’ bucket under the sink and collect all of your food scraps when preparing a meal and after dinner. Collecting food scraps separately can decrease the volume of your waste extensively and it can be collected by your green collection program. If you don’t have one in your community think of having a compost bin in your yard or community garden. There are some great small options available in the market. The compost you get is perfect to help grow your next garden.
- Remember to tie up your tree and shrub cuttings for easy removal on garbage day and use recyclable green bags for lawn clippings, which can also be picked up by your local green recycling program.
- You probably paid some kind of recycling fee at the big box store for your TV, computer, phone, etc. Make sure to return them to the store for proper recycling. Never throw electronics in the trash.
- Those plastic grocery bags you get at the store? Bring them back to re-use or put them in plastic bag recycling stations at the store. Even better if you bring your own re-usable bag. And no—paper is not better, since paper grocery bags are not made from recycled paper.
- Never throw batteries and light bulbs into your trash. Bring them to stores such as Home Depot and IKEA for proper recycling.
- Always dispose of motor oil, gasoline, and cooking oil correctly. Usually large automotive stores have recycling areas to dispose of this hazardous material correctly.
Remember that each city, community, or county has different recycling programs. Do your research and find out how you can recycle most effectively in your area.