According to the NLWA, up to 70% of our waste can be recycled or reused in some capacity, including things you wouldn’t expect, like furniture and electronics. When it comes to going green, there are a lot of ways to start. Here are some of the easiest and most productive.
Before you begin to recycle, take a look at reducing and reusing. We can reduce the amount of waste we produce in many ways. We can purchase well made, quality products that will last longer and need replacement less frequently. We can use reusable shopping bags when we go to the store, and we can stop buying cases of individual bottles of water, using a refillable water bottle instead and filling it from the tap. Much packaging can also be reused instead of discarded. Many of the containers in which food is sold can be washed and used to store leftovers.
What Can You Recycle?
Every city is different so check with your community’s solid-waste department about what can and cannot be recycled locally. Generally, though, these rules apply to community-level recycling:
- All plastic bottles with twist off caps on a neck smaller than the body. This includes shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, laundry detergent, and other household bottles.
- Most plastic food containers used for yogurt, butter, and other condiments.
- Plastic bags and shrink wrap from grocery and retail stores, bread or tortillas bags, produce bags, and more.
- Cardboard boxes, packing peanuts, newspapers, magazines, birthday cards, phone books, milk cartons, and toilet paper rolls.
- Metal cans, tins, kitchen foil, and empty aerosol cans.
- Old electronics including TVs, monitors, ink cartridges, and mobile phones. (If you can’t recycle these items with your municipal system, many electronics and office supply stores will accept them for recycling.)
Creating a Recycling System
Once you understand what to recycle, setting up a system in your home can make it easy for the whole family:
- Set a bin next to the garbage can and mark it for recyclables. You can attach a list or pictures of the items that go in the recycling bin.
- Add bins to the bathrooms and home office to make it convenient for those areas of the house.
- Find out if your city supplies recycling cans (similar to your city’s garbage cans) and get the schedule for local pick ups.
- Locate additional recycling drop-off points nearby. Many can be found near schools and other convenient locations.
Go the Extra Mile
- Buy products that have been made with recycled goods.
- Compost green cuttings and kitchen waste (food scraps) for gardening.
- Donate old furniture, tires, and any other useable items you no longer need to a local thrift store or charity.
Start by finding one thing to practice, and integrate additional recycling tips as you go. Even the smallest effort helps reduce inputs to landfills and improves the environment.
As you look to recycle, you may consider increasing the energy efficiency of your home or office as well. Solar panels reduce your carbon footprint while saving money on your energy bill. Contact us for more information.