I have a confession to make. As green as I’d like to become, I haven’t become an amazing recycler yet.
In fact, during some seasons of my life, I’ve been an absolutely horrid recycler. Granted, I don’t throw away intact and usable household items, clothing, or electronics – instinctively I donate them to organizations that can help someone else with my unwanted belongings. But when it comes down to trash – discarded mail, plastic food containers, glass bottles, and food scraps – my level and commitment to recycling totally depend on availability and ease.
In theory, I’d love to recycle everything – and I feel guilty when I notice my family has filled yet another garbage bag. But if my space is limited and I’m overcommitted, stressed, and busy, recycling is the first thing to go.
A few years ago, Prince Charming and I lived in a city that offered curbside recycling. As in the city delivered two garbage containers to each residence – one for garbage and one for recycling. When recycling was that incredibly easy, we definitely filled our recycling container every week and hardly had any garbage.
Then we moved away.
Now that we’re settling into a new home, I’m convinced we can make recycling work for our family. It’s not easy, though – it will take extra effort and commitment. Here’s how my family is restarting our recycling habit:
How to start recycling
The first step in recycling is discovering where you can recycle and what materials are accepted.
When we had curbside pickup, we followed specific guidelines – all items had to be packaged in grocery bags, and all the recyclables needed separated into categories.
Because curbisde recycling isn’t offered in our current community, I did a quick Internet search (I simply Googled where to recycle in our town) and found all the recycling centers in the area. Bad news, though. There are two centers within a 20-minute drive. One center accepts almost all materials, so I’ve chosen that facility.
Taking the next step
Now that I know where I need to go to deliver my recyclable trash, I need to gather it. For now, I’ve arranged four big boxes in our garage – one for paper, one for glass, one for plastic, and one for metal. (Maybe when I find a great bargain, I’ll invest in plastic containers. But currently I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job recycling our moving boxes.) I make sure everything is rinsed and that labels are removed, and then I start my collection. When the boxes get really full, I’ll make a trip to the recycling center. At this rate, I’ll probably make a trip every three weeks or so.
One way I’ve helped reduce our recyclable material is to cut back on unnecessary mail.We’ve switched to electronic bill paying. It’s also possible to opt out of junk mail. (Check out DMAChoice, Do Not Mail, or 41pounds.org for more information.)
My next step is to start composting our food waste, but that’s another post for another day. On Wednesday, I’ll share what materials can commonly be recycled in most centers and programs.
OK, all of you seasoned recyclers! What tricks and tips can you share with a recycling newbie? What works for you? What doesn’t?
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