Sustainability as a mindset is finding its way into every industry. From agriculture to manufacturing to fashion, executive boards are beginning to realize that aside from helping the environment, there is a burgeoning market for environmentally aware brands. While federal, state, and local governments are slow to pick up on this trend, more and more everyday people are changing their habits and behavior to fit this ethos of sustainability. But how can you do your part? Check out this list for some simple ways to make recycling part of you and your family’s lifestyle!
If space permits, keeping clearly designated bins will make recycling a lot easier. The main categories usually break down come down to paper, plastic, metal, and compost. You can also keep a separate, smaller container for items such as old batteries, aerosol containers, and half-empty paint cans. You can find the perfect nook for these bins in your kitchen, garage, or even your backyard. As more households begin to recycle, retailers are expanding their bin selections from just dark blue plastic bins to bins that are more aesthetically pleasing (or even odor and tamper-proof).
Remember that at some point you have to drag all of these recyclables to the curb. Line whatever container you use with TWO recycling bags to avoid tearing. And rinse out tin or metal containers (tuna cans, tomato sauce cans, etc) to avoid attracting bugs or pesky raccoons. As for your compost bins, I recommend keeping them outdoors in a tamper-proof container. Not only does this diffuse the odor problem, but it will also let the contents aerate, and make it easier to access your garden a flower patch (natural fertilizer!). For items like batteries or old electronics, an out-of-the-way cabinet or corner in the garage will suffice for storage. You won’t have to empty these bins for quite a while, so keeping them isolated will help to avoid clutter.
Keep a schedule to simplify things. Meal preppers get all of their cooking done once a week, so set aside a day to clear out all of your recycling! Also, try to rinse your bins appropriately (depending on the wear-and-tear each category may go through). From once a month to a few times a year, you will find that having clean containers will encourage you to keep up the habit of recycling.
The often forgotten third “R” of “Reuse, Reduce and Recycle”. Really, reusing recyclable materials is equal to, if not better, than leaving them out on the curb every week, since fewer resources are required to do so. Maybe you go through more glass or metal disposables than you once thought. If those bags are getting to be heavy by the end of the week, consider finding different uses for some of the items you throw away. For example, those old pasta jars make the perfect containers for some meal preppers. And if you have a green thumb, old milk or egg cartons make for great planters. Plastic bags can even be repurposed as packing material in place of those messy styrofoam peanuts.
5. Get the Kids Into It
Growing up, my parents found creative ways to make me more entrepreneurial. When I was 8 or 9, they let me take my bike over to the redemption center and turn in cans for cash (they didn’t trust me with glass since I was so clumsy!). Or maybe you would rather give them a quarter for every item they put in the proper bin (or deduct a quarter whenever you find a recyclable in the wrong bin). Depending on how young your kids are, you can incentivize them to participate for little to nothing. The chance to earn even a little will make the point of recycling stick out in their head!
A motto that is prevalent among environmentalists is to “leave it better than you found it”. Whether that be a park or a city plaza or the Earth in its entirety. It is ridiculous to think that you alone can stop the proliferation of plastic or toxic emissions that come with a society obsessed with consumerism. Eventually, we have to convince our friends and neighbors to do the right things, but before that, we have to begin at home.