Recycling. It’s one of those easy green habits you know you should be doing at home without a second thought. But, like many habits, recycling is something you have to practice and get used to, especially if your community doesn’t automatically offer easy-access recycling services.
The best way to make recycling easier is to organize your at-home recycling efforts. Recycling can actually be easy-to-use and even fun (especially if you have kids). All it takes is a little bit of effort, and your family can make a difference by easily and efficiently recycling for years to come.
Begin with Local Research
Although there are general guidelines for recycling, unfortunately there is no one unified recycling program that can be followed coast to coast.
Each individual city often has its own recycling program with details and procedures on what can and cannot be recycled and how the materials are collected. Because of this, you should start out your at-home recycling quest by researching your community’s recycling policies and procedures.
While researching, make sure to ask what recyclables your community recycling center can accept and the best way to get your recyclables to their final destination. Pick-up programs can differ greatly from location to location.
Some cities have bins (similar to a regular trash can bin) that you can throw all recyclables in while others charge a fee for bins and you have to separate recyclables yourself.
Utilize Earth911.com’s Recycling Database for local recycling and drop-off options for over 200 materials.
Spread the News at Home
Once you find more info from your local collector, pass on the news to your family. The more everyone knows, the more sense it makes as to why everyone should participate. You can do this in a variety of ways, such as:
- Posting a list of recyclables inside a designated area of your home
- Discussing your findings and answering questions
- Giving everyone in your family responsibility for finding recycling information
Organize Your Efforts
Once you and your family members understand what can be recycled and how you’re going to get your recyclables to the closest center, it’s time to organize and put your knowledge into practice. This can be a fun time to involve the kids as you can turn organizing the recyclables into a family project.
Recycling experts suggest organizing separate bins or boxes for different types of recyclables, depending on what your local recycling center will accept.
If your local recycling is single-stream, you can put all your recyclables into one bin.
If your local recycling is dual-stream, your recyclables will need to be separated. You can do this by breaking your waste up into categories such as paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, certain metals and other material types.
Once you have your container system setup, you can decorate it and designate its location. Remember to make sure your recycling bin(s) are easily accessible to all family members.
Go Beyond Basic Recycling
Now that you’ve got a handle on recycling the basics, there are a variety of ways to become even more green by recycling and reusing other household items.
A simple search on Earth911.com will show you that a variety of other items can be recycled by certain centers. Some of these items include batteries, automobile fluid (most local repair shops will recycle it for you), electronics, plastic bags, magazines and more.
For unwanted items that can’t be dropped in your local recycling bin (clothing, furniture, etc.), consider donating them or joining a “freecycling” program where participants exchange goods they would normally just throw away.