How Can I Recycle?
Let's start with a definition of the various types of recycling centers and some lesser-known places that also offer recycling services.
You will be interested in the latter; because these places will save you money every time you give them a product to recycle!
Community Recycling – Not every community is alike, when it comes to recyclable collection. The larger the community, town or city, the more likely they will have multiple methods of collecting recyclable items. There are four basic community methods for recycling collection:
- Curbside Pick-up
- Drop-off centers
- Buy-back centers
- Deposit and refund programs
From these facilities, your recycled goods follow the journey to becoming New Products
The journey goes something like this:
The Recycling Journey
Company and Business Recycling – Large and small businesses alike are now recycling paper, printer and toner cartridges and cans and bottles from the cafeteria and/or vending machines.
Businesses also recycle equipment and supplies like computers, printers, calculators, batteries, etc.
Ask about your company recycling policy and, if your company does not have a policy or a program, ask them to start a program.
Look in copy and file rooms, and in the company kitchens and coffee rooms for the familiar blue recycling bins or for barrels or containers that are labeled for cans, bottles or other recyclable materials, and be sure to use the containers.
In most businesses, used paper is the one item that employees forget to recycle. It's really simple to do this.
Put a box or a bin under or near your desk and throw used paper from your printer or desk into the bin.
Empty it once a week in the larger bins in the copy rooms or near the sanitation and delivery dock in your company.
Paper is ALWAYS recycled and recycled into more paper. And this process ensures that we don't have to cut down more trees to provide the paper we need.
Retailers – If you have a home computer or printer or you own a small business with this kind of equipment, you can recycle your printer and copier cartridges at your local office supply store.
Nearly all national chains (Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, etc.) have a recycling program.
AND, you can save money.
When you return old cartridges for recycling, you get a discount coupon or credit on your account toward a purchase.
Retailers with an auto repair department (Sears, Costco and others) provide a centralized recycling facility for used oil and used car batteries.
Do not forget this service when you are changing your own oil or battery. It is important not to throw these items in the trash, as they contain toxic material and chemicals.
If you are changing your oil, simply empty the oil into a secure container and drop it off for appropriate disposal, at your local auto mechanic or at one of these retailers.
Remember to recycle your old cell phone, computer, telephone and other office or communication equipment.
Retailers of computers and cell phones often have drop-off locations in their retail outlets.
Call or drop by to ask about their programs. You may even get a discount on a new product.
Before we leave this section, let's look at some other ways you can reduce the amount of garbage you produce.
If you do not USE as much of an item or ingredient, you will help reduce the amount of garbage we must add to landfills.
The conservation process is equally as important as the recycling initiative.
You will find a few items below, to get you started!
These items follow the philosophy of the Reduce! Reuse! and Recycle! Program.
The concepts focus on conservation, creative reuse of old items and recycling of items that can be processed to make new products, or items that contain hazardous or toxic waste and should not be sent to a landfill.
With a little forethought and some creativity, you can add some of your own ideas to this list.
In the Kitchen
If you use disposal cups when you have a party, you can limit the number of cups you use by providing a way for your guests to identify their cup, so they don't have to get another one from the stack.
Put a colorful sticker on the bottom of the cup, or ask your guests to mark their initials on the bottom of the cup with an indelible marker.
Your guests can easily identify their cup when they are ready for a refill.
Buy a set of plastic dishes and cups to use outside, so you don't have to buy paper plates and cups for an outdoor party.
If you are buying plastic forks, and cups, you can WASH them in the dishwasher and use them again.
Some of the heavy-duty pressed paper plates are also washable (believe it or not). Look on the Chinet dinnerware packages and you'll see a label that indicates you can wash them in the dishwasher.
Use cloth napkins and tablecloths instead of paper.
In the Bathroom
Use non-aerosol shaving cream and deodorant.
Look at shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste containers before you buy them, and buy those that are recyclable so you can put them in your community recycling when they are empty.
Use toilet paper that is made from recycled content (chlorine free). Install a showerhead and toilet that conserve water.
In the Den or Family Room
Purchase only recycled paper and office supplies (pens, notebooks, etc.).
Do not buy colored paper if you can avoid it. White paper is preferred because it can be more easily recycled without a complex chemical process.
Use scrap paper to write notes or take messages.
Print or copy your documents on two sides so you use half as much paper.
If you are printing or copying something for reference and it doesn't have to be clean and pristine, consider using the flip side of an old document or a letter you got in the mail from a bank, credit card company, etc.
You don't need a clean piece of paper to copy a travel itinerary to hang on your family's bulletin board for reference.
Don't make more copies than you need!
If you are writing a school paper, letter or other document in your computer, be sure you finish your proof reading and do your spell-check on the screen BEFORE YOU PRINT the document.
Use a smaller font and wider margins so you can fit more content on the page and you won't have to print as many pages.
That process will ensure that you don't have to print the same document more than once to get it right!
Send an email whenever you can, as opposed to writing a letter. You will save money on stamps and your message will get there a lot faster!
When you are finished reading a book, or listening to a tape or CD, give them to friends to share, or contribute them to book drives, libraries, hospitals, or charity organizations.
On the Road
Drive your car at or below the speed limit to conserve fuel, and avoid speeding up and slowing down and/or sudden starts and stops (these driving habits use more fuel).
Be sure your tires are filled to the appropriate pressure for the season and for the recommendations in your user manual.
Park your car in the shade during the hot summer months, so you don't have to crank up the air conditioner to get the car cool when you get in the car.
At the Store
Bring a canvas bag to do your grocery shopping, instead of taking paper or plastic bags home.
If you have plastic bags at home, take them to the store and use them to pack your groceries, instead of bringing MORE bags home.
Some stores will even give you a few pennies off for bringing your own grocery bags.
Buy fresh items that do not require packaging. Instead of buying canned corn, buy fresh corn. Instead of buying frozen broccoli, buy fresh broccoli.
It is healthier and has more vitamins, too!
Purchase concentrated cleaners and mix them with water, rather than buying more bottles of cleaning fluids and detergents.
If you preferred the ready-to-use cleaners, buy them in bulk so you only have one container to recycle.
Buy used textbooks in college. You will save money and save the environment at the same time!
Use old paper to take notes (just flip it over and use the blank side for your class notes).
Always throw your trash in appropriate receptacles when you are hiking or camping. Look for recycling bins in state and national parks and if you can't find them, use a bag to carry out bottles, cans, film containers, etc.
Hike, ride a bicycle, ski, row a boat – don't drive more than is necessary.
You will enjoy nature more, get some great exercise and save fuel at the same time.
Let's move on now to talk about reuse. If you are not familiar with the concept of reuse, you are not alone. Don't worry! We'll explain it!