Recycling is the process of converting waste into new, usable materials. Plastic, aluminum, paper, steel and more can all be recycled into new products in cost- and energy–efficient ways, ultimately conserving raw resources as well as energy. According
to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one ton of paper can ultimately save 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water.
Beyond saving raw materials, creating new glass, plastic, or paper from recycled products uses significantly less energy than those made from virgin materials. For example, recycled plastic requires 76% less energy to produce, while recycled glass requires
21% less energy. The energy saved from recycling just one glass bottle is enough to power a light bulb for four hours! Finally, recycling also decreases the need for landfills and incinerators, thereby reducing ground and air pollution as well as land
Recycling is simple, effective, and something the whole family can participate in. Start by calling your local waste management services to determine what can be recycled, how it needs to be sorted and packaged, and what day(s) recycling is collected.
Also determine if there are any local areas where you can safely dispose of batteries, light bulbs and other hazardous materials that shouldn’t be put into your trash.
While different areas may have different rules about how recyclables should be cleaned,
sorted, and packaged, most accept the same types of waste. In general, aluminum, metal food cans, glass, cardboard, plastics (#1-7 but varies by location), and paper can all be recycled!
Plastics can be a little tricky for recycling, as some break down easier than others. The number embossed on the bottom of all of your plastic items will help you determine if it can be recycled, and more importantly, if it’s available for curbside collection.
Use these numbers to not only help you figure out what to put in your recycling bin, but also to help you shop for more easily-recycled plastic products from places in the future!
While plastics can be a little trickier to sort and re-cycle, so many great household products can come from our efforts, so take the time to dispose of them properly.
One of the keys to establishing a successful recycling program in your home or work place is to create a system that works specifically for you (and your family or co-workers!). There are countless ways to sort and collect recyclable waste. Here are a
few of our favorites:
- Convenience is king when it comes to a successful recycling system. Make your bins easy to access right in your kitchen or utility room.
- If you need a simple system that even the kids can get into, consider baskets with casters that are quick and easy to access but slide out of sight when not in use. Make the most of a tight space by going vertical.
- Make your recycling bins fun and stylish with this trash can paint project. Cute bins just might make recycling more fun for the reluctant family or office member. Trash cans and bins can be easily purchased at your nearest hardware store.
- Don’t have the time or interest in spray-painting trashcans? Printable labels can go right onto generic bins to help you keep everything straight!
- Batteries should not be tossed right into your trash or recycling and instead should be properly disposed of at waste collection centers or local businesses like Advanced Auto Parts. To corral all your batteries or light bulbs until you’re ready to
drop them off, fashion old coffee cans into mini counter top recycling bins!
- You may want to make the ultimate sorting center for your home with tools you can find at the local hardware store like Harbor Freight. For large families or dedicated recyclers, a wooden recycling station is super functional and easy on the eyes.
If you don’t have a convenient place to keep bulky trash or recycling in your home, create a dedicated garbage can spot outside . It won’t take long for the entire family to learn exactly where the recycling goes and use it regularly!
Need more recycling ideas? Recycle your clothing and consider restocking with only the essentials!