Recycling is one of the simplest ways that people can contribute to environmental sustainability. Recycling receptacles are starting to frequent public places such as malls, local farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and schools. The popular website Pinterest is full of “boards” about upcycling (a fancy word for recycling something for immediate reuse and typically refers to clothing or household goods). Additionally, many public waste management companies offer public recycling services. Even with all of these resources and more, the U.S. recycling rate is still around 35%. So why aren’t more people recycling? We’ve taken the liberty of outlining some of the easiest ways that you and your community can recycle-beyond newspapers and aluminum cans. It’s easier than you think.
Perhaps one of the easiest and most convenient ways to recycle starts in the home. Many solid waste management companies have integrated recycling programs that allow you to collect specific types of waste within your home for easy curbside pickup. Often, recycling receptacles are provided to you, or you are able to use your own box, bucket, or similar container to store the recyclable materials. Some programs allow recyclable materials to be stored together, eliminating the need to separate items. However, there are guidelines for recycling. For example, light bulbs, mirrors, ceramics, and broken or dyed glass are usually prohibited. If you’re interested in becoming involved in your local recycling program, be sure to check with your local waste management company first for a complete list of rules and regulations.
Electronic and Appliance Recycling
What do you do with those used or broken electronics and appliances that you no longer need? Do you just chunk them in the trash with your old leftovers? If you answered yes, then you may want to rethink that process. You could be recycling these items! Everything from dishwashers, microwaves, and vacuum cleaners to weed eaters and bicycles can be recycled. Printers, washers & dryers, toasters, lawn mowers, ink cartridges, air conditioners, desktop computers, laptops, gaming systems, batteries, DVD players, tires, carpet, and even dehumidifiers can all be recycled- and many times for free! Other items such as fluorescent lamps can also be collected and recycled for a small fee. Check with your local solid waste management company to see if these items are included in their recycling program. If these items are not collected by solid waste management, they should be able to give you a referral to a third party that specializes in recycling these items. You can also research these programs online.
Recycling Clothing and Household Goods
Second-hand, otherwise known as “thrift”, stores can be found all over the place. Many of these organizations are making it easier to donate household items by placing donation bins in parking lots all over cities, which reduces the need to make a “special trip” just to donate. Additionally, if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return, you could claim these donations as a charitable deduction. The Internal Revenue Service states that a taxpayer can deduct the fair market value of clothing, household goods, furniture, shoes, etc. So think about that. You can donate your old clothes, furniture, and other household items to a good cause, AND you can receive a reward for doing so.
Additional Ways to Recycle
If you’re still interested in making a contribution but are not able or willing to use one of the methods previously discussed, here are some additional ways that you can reduce and reuse:
- Buy recycled paper or products made of recycled material(s)
- Reuse a coffee mug instead of using Styrofoam cups
- Reuse plastic or paper grocery bags
- Buy rechargeable batteries
- Bring reusable bags when shopping, traveling, or packing lunches
- Purchase dish soaps and detergents in concentrated forms
- “Go Paperless” with bills
- Shop at second-hand stores
- Compost food scraps or yard waste
- Buy in bulk rather than individually packaged
- Look for eco-friendly labeling
- Reuse scrap paper for taking notes instead of purchasing sticky notes etc.