Most of us want to help the environment today by recycling as much as we can. These days, it is easier than ever to recycle; the EPA reported in 2013 that Americans generated 254 million tons of trash and recycled/composted 87 million tons, for a 34.3% recycling rate.
On average, Americans recycled and composted 1.5 pounds of waste of a total of 4.4 pounds per person that year.
With some additional effort, Americans can start to recycle even more. This article has some ideas and tips to increase recycling in your home, school and workplace.
Recycling At Home
Recycling more at home does not require much effort if you spend some time to create a comprehensive recycling system. This system starts with having places to store your recycled materials in the house, whether this is a box, bin or bag. Keep the recycling container next to the trash can and will remind everyone to recycle as much as possible.
Here are some simple tips to recycle more effectively at home:
- Flatten cardboard boxes so that you can fit more recyclables into your bin.
- All plastic bottles can be recycled, from water bottles to salad dressing, so put all of them in your recycling container.
- It is not just newspapers that you can recycle at home. Also, recycle wrapping paper, envelopes, birthday cards and phone books. All sorts of cardboard can be recycled, too, even toilet and paper towel tubes.
- Most metallic items in the home can be recycled, such as empty spray cans and tin foil, and of course, all empty soda, fruit, vegetable and other food cans.
- Keep a space in your cupboard so that you can recycle as you are cooking or cleaning. It will make it easier for you to put the recyclables in their proper place.
- When going out, stop at your local recycling center and drop off anything that was not picked up by your curbside service. This lets you fit your recycling into your life, and will also teach your children about the importance of recycling.
- If you are ever unsure about what you can recycle, check with your refuse provider website. There should be comprehensive information about what is or is not suitable for your recycling container or containers. Most refuse providers also have apps for your smart phone where you can check what to and what not to recycle.
- Glass can be recycled endlessly; it does not wear out after several recyclings, so be sure to always recycle your glass bottles and containers.
- To help your recycling center and to keep down foul odors, make sure you wash food waste off of any plastic or glass food containers before putting them in the recycle bin.
Recycling at School
It is important to take our recycling habit into our schools; it is estimated that 80% of what is used at school can be recycled. Providing children and young adults with exposure to the importance of recycling can help to provide all of us with a greener and healthier community.
If you want to get your school in on the recycling revolution, here’s how:
- The majority of recyclable material at schools is paper. Every classroom, eating space and office should have plenty of bins available for recycling paper.
- If there are any school supplies left over at year’s end, you can donate them to students in need or to a local organization that helps the needy.
- Begin a composting program in your school cafeteria to reduce the amount of food waste thrown away. Some cafeterias can use waste compactors that will reduce how much space kitchen and food waste occupies.
- Every cafeteria and eating space should have containers for plastic, paper and metal recycling.
- Common materials at school including aluminum, paper, cardboard and plastics are very easy for schools to compact into bales that can be hauled away by the recycling company.
- Every school administration should invest in effective recycling and waste management equipment, including automatic trash compactors that increase the efficiency of waste management in high traffic areas for students.
- Use special fundraisers for the school that promote recycling, such as selling reusable shopping bags.
- Think about making schools as paperless as possible. Students and teachers can do a lot of their work with email, electronic documents and online rather than printing out many paper copies for students. Staff and administration for the school also should understand how to make minor changes that can make more of the school curriculum paperless.
Recycling at Workplace
The last major place you can make a difference in recycling is at work. Below are some ways that you can easily increase your recycling and reusing in the office:
- Pack lunch: By bringing your own lunch and snacks to the office in a reusable container (in a reusable bag rather than plastic one), you will reduce packaging waste and also spend less on going out to eat. The average worker in the US spends $37 per week on buying lunch. This can add up to $2000 per year or more.
- Bring your own coffee to work rather than buying coffee at work in throw away cups. Save the environment and your wallet.
- Make office supplies last longer. You can try to use pens, highlighters and markers more sparingly, and also keep them front and center so they are not forgotten in your desk drawers. And keep your markers, pens and glue sticks in a clean dry space as heat and exposure to sun make them dry out.
- Try to precycle your office supplies. This means thinking about recycling before you use anything. For example, you can use old newspaper to wrap things for the mail instead of bubble wrap. Use a reusable tape dispenser at your desk, and use paper clips instead of staples.
- Make your commute green. The average work commute produces 7,000 of carbon emissions per year. You can reduce this by carpooling, biking or walking. If you drive just 10% less per year, this can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ⅓ for many people.
- Reduce your paper consumption. Each office worker in America uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually. This is 4 million tons of paper per year! Only print documents when absolutely necessary. Use email for most memos and office communications. Use both sides of copy paper when you can.
Recycling Tips Recap
Hopefully, you have learned some smart and simple tips to increase your recycling efforts at home, school and work. Let us know how it works out for you in the comment section.
- Hints and Tips for Recycling. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.wiseuptowaste.org.uk/recycle/hints-and-tips
- Recycling Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/schools.html
- EPA Waste Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/web/html/