Thursday, May 17, 2012

5 easy ways to recycle almost anything

When most people think of recycling, what comes to mind is aluminum cans and plastic water bottles. Why? Well, because we pay a CRV when we buy them and want our money back - right? For some people yes, this is the only reason to recycle.

However, there are quite a few people who recycle because they care about the environment and want to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible. I'm one of those people.

When we recycle cans and plastic bottles my son gets to keep the money. He usually gets about $6 a month - which isn't a lot, but to a kid money is money. He also knows that he is helping the environment.

As a family, we recycle almost everything. There is a bin that all newspapers, magazines, junk mail, and all paper products go into. We even flatten cardboard boxes from cereal, crackers, and soda cases. If you think about it, almost every type of paper packaging can be recycled. Once a month I take the bin to my work were they have a recycling program that earns the school money. I am helping the school out and keeping the landfills a little smaller.

All glass jars and wine bottles also get recycled. We either take them to them recycling center with our cans, or I use them for other things like plants or storing beans and nuts. This type of glass doesn't have a cash value, but that is not why we recycle.

Now what about all those cans of soup and beans in your cupboard? Easy-peasy. Tear off the label and rinse out the can. These also go to the recycling center. Again, no cash value - but my carbon footprint sure is getting smaller.

OK ladies, this one is for you. What do you do with your empty shampoo bottles and moisturizer jars? Or your empty bronzer compact and lipstick tube? You probably throw them in the trash just like I use to do. Stop doing that and start using TerraCycle. It's easy to join a brigade and all you have to do is ship them your empty containers. TerraCycle does the rest.

Aside from recycling your containers and packaging, start pre-cycling. Which basically means to think before you buy. Look at the packaging. Does it have the recycle symbol printed someplace on it? Is the packaging minimal?
I would say close to 80% of what we buy as a family can be recycled and it doesn't take that much work. Just set up some bins or even some reusable sopping bags and you will be amazed at how quickly they fill up - and how long it takes to fill your trash can!

Who knows, maybe some of the products you recycle, instead of throw away in a landfill, will be used to make a bench like this one.

All benches at the San Diego Zoo are made from recycled materials.

What type of recycling do you do in your home or office?

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