Recycling can seem like an all or nothing project, but you don’t have to be a 24/7 eco-warrior to make a difference for the environment.
With Earth Day on the horizon this month on April 22nd, get prepared for the holiday with the following easy tips to jumpstart your recycling habits.
Spread recycling bins around the house
There’s probably a trash can in every bathroom and bedroom in your home, but only one recycling bin (likely near the kitchen). If you find yourself throwing away recyclable waste just because the recycling bin is on the other side of the house, try distributing small bins throughout rooms. Just pop them beside all trash cans to ensure you never fail to recycle out of laziness.
Rinse before you recycle
Countless loads of recycling have been contaminated by pesky food waste. Be sure to quickly wash food and drink containers before recycling them. Also avoid recycling any items that are coated with difficult food waste like peanut butter jars or oil containers, and throw those in the trash instead.
Skip the bag
Not all good recycling habits require buying new items. Unless your local recycling program specifically requires you to put items in garbage bags, it’s best to skip the bag entirely. Since most garbage bags are non-recyclable, they get in the way at the plant, so just chuck items directly in the recycling bin if you have one (anyone without a bin should invest in recyclable trash bags).
Buy items made with recycled material
Sending used items to the recycling plant is only half the battle. Everyday consumers can help the entire recycling process by buying recycled goods too. Make a habit out of choosing brands that package products in recycled materials.
Recycle food and water waste too
If you’re trying to improve your ecological footprint, don’t stop at plastic and paper. You can apply basic recycling habits to food and water too. Compost vegetable scraps and reuse used “greywater” to water plants.
Recycle used tech correctly
Used electronics can be dangerous in landfills, but they can’t be recycled like other materials at an ordinary plant. If an appliance stops working, check with the manufacturer to see if you can return it; some brands provide credit on future purchases, but even if they don’t they can still reuse parts or refurbish old items to reduce waste. Otherwise, consult the EPA’s guidance on Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD). The nice thing about recycling tech is that you don’t have to do it every week. Just store old appliances until you have enough to make a drop-off trip to an EPA RAD partner.
Avoid common mistakes
The easiest way to improve your recycling habits might be to simply stop making a few common mistakes. You can be a better environmental steward by learning the basics about recycling bottle caps, pizza boxes, coffee cups and taped up cardboard boxes.