Whether you’re taking on a renovation project in your home, have a specific goal for reducing your carbon footprint, or are just trying to live a more green lifestyle, there are lots of different ways you can incorporate recycling into your approach to home care and daily life to reduce and recycle in a sustainable way. Here are some of our best tips and tricks for living green:
- Look at the symbols on your products. Starting it off with the most simple tip – pay attention to the packaging! Recyclable items will have an icon on the package showing if they are recyclable or not. And if you’re trying to recycle plastic, all plastic items have a resin identification code (RIC) that can indicate the grade of plastic and how well it can be recycled if at all.
- Check the guide listed on your waste bins. Typically waste bins will have labels or instructions on the bins themselves to indicate what can or cannot be included so that all of the refuse or recycling materials can be disposed of properly. If you put something in the wrong bin, it’s more likely to end up going to the dump than being sent to the proper recycling location!
- Never place your recyclables in plastic bags. This tip may seem simple, but far too many people try packaging their recyclables in plastic bags. While plastic bags are recyclable, they can’t just be tossed in with your other bottles, cans, and cartons, and when they are or you use a plastic bag to hold your other recyclables, the bags’ fine plastic can jam up recycling processors, requiring more energy and a less “green” process overall.
- Separate if it’s required! Back to tip #1, depending on your area’s recycling program, glass, metal and other products may need to be bagged separately. Pay attention to state and local ordinances on recycling to make sure things are sorted properly. According to Waste Management, 25% of Americans recycle things in the wrong receptacle or recycle things that aren’t recyclable. Don’t be a part of that group!
- The cleaner your recyclables are, the better. Items that are dirty when they are thrown in the recycling won’t automatically be thrown away, but they can be thrown in the trash by a recycling center vs. actually getting recycled and either way, dirty containers can cause health and safety concerns at a recycling center. If you wash out containers and keep them relatively clean before they’re sent off this can reduce the amount of energy put into washing and resorting recyclables.
- Never recycle dishwear or drinking glasses. This can also cause an issue with broken glass harming the recycling processing machines once at a recycling center. If the items are in good condition, consider the recycling of the product being a stop at the local Goodwill or thrift shop so someone else can use the product as well.
- Limit your purchasing of single-use products. Everyone’s heard about why straws are no longer being served at restaurants or small businesses as often as they were offered before. However, the choices you make in future purchases for single-use items at your home can largely impact your ability to recycle as well. Try purchasing reusable silverware, straws, and more to reduce your household waste and non-recyclable trash in a more sustainable way.
- Start composting! A large step for many individuals looking for a more sustainable approach to food waste can be creating a compost which is biodegradable and is a great way to offset your carbon footprint. For those of you interested in composting, you can often be provided composting bins from services in your county (and free of charge!)