Remember the good old days when everything in your household was either recycled or reused? Blouses and dress shirts with missing buttons weren’t just thrown away, but instead fixed with a simple thread and needle. Appliances weren’t just replaced but repaired. Maybe you even remember when leaving empty milk jugs for your milkman to collect was common practice. It wasn’t until the 1950s that milk cartons replaced glass milk bottles altogether.
With Earth Day right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to invest in our planet and bring back good recycling habits. Every action you take, no matter how big or small, can help create a more sustainable future. Sharing those habits from the good old days with the next generation can go a long way! Reduce your personal waste and minimize your carbon footprint by recycling materials, donating items you no longer need or use and making simple changes to your daily routine.
Remember the three R’s
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
When you recycle and reduce the amount of trash you generate, you contribute to less waste in the environment and are helping to preserve the planet. BYU reports that recycling one single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees and if every American recycled one-tenth of their newspaper then an astounding 25 million trees would be saved. So, what steps can you and your loved ones take to reduce personal waste and help preserve the planet?
- Reduce the amount of trash you generate and cut back on how much natural resources like gas you use to heat up your house and fuel your cars.
- Reuse items that will be thrown away after a single use like plastic bags. Remember to bring your reusable grocery bag(s) on your next trip to the market to help minimize the use of single-use bags.
- Recycle old items to make new items. You can recycle aluminum cans, glass bottles, paper, plastic and more for upcycling.
Explore the three Rs of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle here.
Where can I start?
Even though America is home to only four percent of the world’s population, it accounts for twelve percent of the world’s trash. Roughly 200 million tons of trash is dumped into landfills every year in America alone. There are many things you can do today that can contribute to a better tomorrow. So, where can you start?
With good recycling habits, you may even earn a little bit of money, and by donating items that you no longer need you’re helping others gain access to things they may not have been able to afford otherwise. Simple changes to your daily routine may seem minuscule now, but they can play a big part in the overall health and wellbeing of the planet too.
Here are some tips on how to start:
- Sort and recycle items around your house into the correct trash and recycling bins.
- Take many types of plastic bottles and cans, electronic waste, used oil and paint to a collection site near you so they are properly disposed of.
- Reuse empty jam or pasta jars and glass bottles to store household items or homemade foods. Remember homemade pickles and fresh berry jam? Home canning is popular again! Make a day of it with a family member or neighbor.
- Walk to the market if it’s nearby or carpool with a friend or family member when possible. Stay mobile, get exercise and limit greenhouse gases produced by running cars on the road.
- Conserve water by fixing leaks and turning off faucets and drains when not in use. Learn more about water efficiency and how you can start saving today.
- Turn off lights and electronics when not in use.
- Donate items you no longer use like books, electronics, furniture, and clothing to programs like Goodwill or The Salvation Army.
It might be hard to part with some of your personal belongings, so start small if you need to. If you haven’t done your spring cleaning yet, now is a good time! Clutter around the house can increase the risk of falling, limit your mobility if spaces are inaccessible and even make it harder for you to locate important items like medication or your favorite novel. When you reduce the clutter around your house, you’re creating a safer and more organized home that lets you age in place longer.
Read more about the benefits of decluttering here.
Recycling dos and don’ts
Recycling is easy! More times than not, people aren’t recycling simply because they don’t know what they can or cannot recycle. Here’s a quick guide on how to sort your recyclables at home. Your individual city or county may have different rules or guidelines, but this can help give you a head start. View your local recycling information here.
Are these items in my home recyclable?
- Plastic bottles and containers
- Glass bottles and containers
- Cardboard boxes
- Aluminum beverage cans
- Household plastic containers like detergent bottles
- Paper (envelopes, office paper and junk mail)
- Metal cans and containers
- Food wrappers and bags
- Bubble wrap and padded mailers
- Saran wrap and plastic bread bags
- Foam containers
- Electrical cords
Your actions today, no matter how big or small, play a key role in a better tomorrow. With consistency and a little consideration for the environment, you’re on the right path to a more sustainable future. Start recycling today!