All recycling starts with your choice to think about the impact your decisions will have on your environment. The three main ways to recycle are to reduce the amount of waste, re-use items instead of throw them away, and recycle waste items instead of just throwing them in the trash. These are the three R’s of recycling – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Good recycling habits start with reducing the amount of waste you create at home, school, or work.
Reduce At Home, Work, and School
When you go shopping, avoid unnecessary purchases or items that rarely get used. Think about whether or not you can borrow or share an item instead of purchasing it. Look for products with smaller amounts of packaging so there will be less to throw away. When purchasing cleaners, look for all-purpose cleaners instead of many different ones for individual cleaning needs to reduce packaging waste. Buy products that can be reused or repurposed.
A couple of other great ways to reduce waste at your home or work is to cancel unwanted mail subscriptions and consider donating items when you are finished with them. The first idea will reduce paper waste and the second idea can reduce waste and possibly make you some money. Many items in your home or business can be donated to local charities as tax deductible gifts.
Reducing Hazardous Waste
Many toxic or hazardous products simply cannot be recycled because of the chemicals in them. For these items, it is best to reduce their waste impact by properly disposing of them. Used automotive fluids like motor oil and brake fluid can be collected at many local oil change businesses and motor oil distributors.
One of the best ways to reduce hazardous or toxic waste is to buy non-toxic alternatives when possible. You can even make your own alternatives to household cleaners. Eartheasy has some great recipes for non-toxic alternatives you can make from common products you may already have.
Repurposing or reusing containers and products before throwing them away is a great way to recycle. Not only will you be helping the environment but also saving money by not making additional purchases. Always think about how you could reuse something before you throw it away.
Common Reusable Items
- Plastic and Paper Bags – These can be reused multiple times to transport items from the grocery store or other shopping trips. Another great reuse for these bags is as small trashcan liners.
- Reclaimed Wood – Can be used to build new items like picture frames, tables, or shelves around your home or office.
- Cardboard and Newspaper – Can be reused to protect items for storage or shipping.
- Clothes and Blankets – These can be donated to local charities or passed down to family and friends for additional use.
- Glass Bottles – You can make candle holders or use them as rolling pins.
- Egg Cartons – Can be used anywhere small partitioned spaces would be needed. For example, to store jewelry or small Christmas tree balls. You can also use them to start growing plants from seeds.
For more ideas on reusable items, check out the list at Mother Earth News.
Consider donating old cell phones, computers, tablets, and household appliances to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill.
It is amazing how your old item might be just the thing someone else has been looking for. These donations may also be tax deductible, which will put some extra money in your pocket while protecting the environment.
Recycling conserves natural resources and protects the environment from hazardous and toxic wastes. From paper to electronics, yard waste, and food scraps we encounter many recyclable items everyday. You can have a direct impact on reducing municipal solid waste by choosing to recycle on a daily basis.
Helpful Recycling Hints
- Buy products that can be recycled when you cannot reuse them again.
- Look for creative ways of recycling items like furniture, paper, plastic, metal, glass, building materials, etc.
- Purchase products that have been made from recycled materials.
- Place recycle bins around your home or work to make it convenient for your co-workers and family to recycle.
- Compost grass clippings to convert yard waste into nutrient rich additives for your plants and trees.
Steps to Recycling Materials
According to the EPA, the three basic steps in the recycling process are:
- Collection and processing of recyclable materials.
- Manufacturing of new products from recycled raw materials.
- Purchasing new products made from recycled materials.
The final step that makes this process a continuous loop is to recycle your products again and again. Your decision to recycle has a real impact on protecting your environment.