Most of us have recycled paper at work and school and many large towns and cities provide recycling bins for regular pickups just like trash. Still, the national average recycling rate is only about 35%. We can do better. Here are 8 ways to recycle you can easily do at home and even when you’re away.
Designate a Collection Center
Recycling at home begins with designating a collection center, which is pretty easy. If you separate your laundry to wash cottons, delicates, and whites separately, you can do the same for containers. The mindset is the same.
Even better, you don’t have to hang anything up to dry or remember a dryer setting.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to recycle glass, cans, and plastics together. Set up a bin to collect them. If you live in a city or town that recycles, you might be able to get a free recycling bin for your home.
If you have to separate your recyclables, check out kitchen recycling centers you can buy that have several compartments to hold clean, dry recyclables.
Improve your Recycling Efforts
If you already know how to recycle at home, you might be interested in these tips about how to improve recycling efforts.
- Rinse out containers and allow them to dry before adding them to a bin. This keeps mold from developing or attracting bugs and vermin that can contaminate your recycling. It also eliminates odors.
- Most recycling companies don’t collect large bags of recycled items. You’ll have to empty them into the right bins.
Bonus: if you use trash bags for your recycling bins, you can use them over and over since they hold clean, dry items.
- Metals like empty aerosol cans and aluminum foil can be recycled as well as paper products like tubes from toilet paper and paper towels, wrapping paper, phone books, newspapers, and drink cartons.
Clean With Reusable Materials
Cutting out paper towels is one of the biggest cost-saving recycling tips at home there is. Paper towels are expensive! Try using small rags, scraps of fabric, or packaged wash towels to clean dishes and mop up small spills. You can wash them over and over, and even let them air-dry.
For larger spills, try our SpillFix product. In addition to being a 100% natural product, it can often be reused as well. Our 3-quart dispenser jar is perfect for home use and quickly contains and absorbs liquid spills.
Flatten Cans and Boxes
If you have to carry your recycling to a community collection area, you obviously want to minimize trips and maximize space. So flatten what you can: boxes and aluminum cans. These are some of the more fun solutions for recycling. There’s something weirdly satisfying about taking apart boxes or flattening them at the seams.
Additional tip: Small children and cats love to play with large boxes. Let them get the most of out any you happen to have. Aluminum cans are even easier to flatten. If you have access to young children, hold a weekly “stomping party” to compress them. Or buy a can crusher.
Some Household Waste Can Be Composted
If you have a large yard, consider composting hair, eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit skin or peels, seeds, and leftover greens. You can also include unbleached napkins, paper towels, and newspapers. Many items you shouldn’t compost can still be donated to community composting efforts. And of course, you can also buy composting kits.
Composted foods are used to enrich the soil for trees, gardens, and lawns. If you don’t have a yard, find out if a community garden accepts leftovers for composting.
We know a lot about finding ways to recycle waste. Our SpillFix product is made from the dust of crushed coconut husks, which used to be thrown away until our founder, Joe Davids, discovered their super-absorbent quality to relieve drought and later, absorb spills. Read more about his research and watch a video interview with Joe.
Mulch Your Yard Waste
Mulching is the same idea as composting. It is the process of breaking down yard waste — tree logs and cuttings — into a semi-solid product that also enriches the soil.
Many towns will collect Christmas trees after the holidays and mulch them to distribute or sell at low cost to the public, or use them in public parks. Some will also pick up cut-up trees and other cuttings. Or you can buy or rent a tree mulcher.
Mulching lawnmowers cut grass just like regular mowers and return the grass clippings to the soil. These mowers can also be used to mulch leaves that fall off trees. It’s so much easier than bagging yard waste.
Shop With Your Own Reusable Bag
More than 300 municipalities and 55 counties have banned plastic carry bags most often seen in grocery stores. They are also banned in California, Hawaii, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico.
The awareness about these bans has helped publicize wastage and even harm caused by plastic bags. They don’t disintegrate well in landfills, they get tangled up in trees, they clog waterways, and they have ensnared wildlife from birds to fish. As a result of these bans, more people are voluntarily taking along reusable grocery tote bags everywhere they shop.
Reusable grocery tote bags are sold at major grocery stores for about a dollar. Not only will you reduce your own trash, but you might get a small discount at stores like Target, Kroger, and Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s also invites customers who bring their own bags to enter a raffle for a gift card.
Install a Clothesline
Clothes dryers are a huge resource drain. Many power companies, worried about rising prices and the potential for brownouts in summer, suggest drying some clothing on a clothesline. This will reduce your gas or electric bill more than you’d think.
Now go ahead and recycle these tips with your friends!