Recycling for Beginners in 5 Easy Steps

Recycling. We are all familiar with the term. But for many, recycling is just that…a term or a concept. Many are not ready to make the leap to separating paper and plastic, or rinsing out, and removing labels, from glass bottles. Recycling can seem like an overwhelming task. The information in this article is aimed at regular people with average household quantities of recyclable materials who are looking for a few simple steps to get started in incorporating recycling into their everyday lives, with the hope that once these steps are accomplished it will make it easier to move on to additional steps.

*Recycling saves quickly depleting natural resources. Making new products from recycled materials reduces the need to mine new, raw materials, thereby preventing damage to the environment.

*Recycling saves energy. Recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for almost three hours. Each ton of recycled paper saves 4,102 kilowatt hours of energy.

*Recycling reduces the amount of garbage that winds up in our landfills. Americans generate approximately 180,000,000 tons of garbage a year. As landfills overflow, more and more land is needed for garbage dumps, reducing natural farmland and beautiful green space.

*Recycling reduces air pollution. Typical American businesses generate approximately 1.5 pounds of waste paper per employee per day! Less fuel is used to produce products from recycled materials, resulting in better air quality; better air quality means better quality of life for us all.

* A portion of the cost of retail product is in the packaging. Containers made of recycled materials cost less than packaging made of all new materials, cutting the cost of retail goods, something we can all relate to.

I am a true believer in the “baby steps” system when starting any new routine. Here are 5 very simple, yet effective, steps to start you on the road to recycling:

1. A majority of households subscribe to at least 1 newspaper and/or 1 magazine. Many households receive items in the mail in cardboard boxes packed with shredded paper or styrofoam peanuts. There are many small, home-based businesses (such as e-bay sellers) that do a lot of packing and shipping. These small business owners would be thrilled to take your unused packing materials off your hands, helping you to recycle. Simply place an ad on either Craigslist or on Freecycle offering free packing materials. Arrange convenient weekly pickup dates and times. Then, simply start tossing it all in a box or two. No need to separate!

2. Every household uses batteries for one purpose or another. Over 15 million batteries, many of them alkaline batteries, are produced and sold worldwide. A great many of these batteries wind up in our landfills after a single use. Simply by replacing the single use alkaline batteries you currently use with environmentally friendly, rechargeable batteries that last longer and can be used hundreds of times over, you can save a substantial amount of money and reduce excess waste in our landfills. Visit http://www.greenbatteries.com for more information.

3. Most every household uses plastic zip-lock bags for storage of food or other items. By washing out and re-using plastic bags you not only save money but you save the earth as well. Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose in a landfill! Simply turn inside out and rinse, put them on an overturned cup to dry. Even simpler yet, http://www.bag-e-wash.com has a simple tool for under $10 that you can put in your dishwasher that allows you to wash plastic bags with every dishwasher load.

4. Buy certified organic products in recyclable containers. Certified organic products are biodegradable and don’t contain toxic synthetic chemicals which harm our planet and wildlife when they are washed down the drain and into our rivers and streams. It is easy to spot certified organic products, simply look for the 3rd party certification logo (i.e., USDA, ACO, BFA). Start with a deodorant or a toothpaste. Then add a body wash or bar of soap and a body lotion. Simply replace old products with new certified organic products as you run out. For more information visit http://www.mihealthyoptions.com.

5. Buy concentrated products. Did you know that an average of 16% of the money spent on a product pays for the cost of packaging? Buying concentrated products prevents the purchase of unnecessary packaging, thereby saving money as well as precious space in overflowing landfills.

Each of us is responsible for preserving and protecting our planet’s natural resources for ourselves and for our future generations. Recycling is a simple, yet powerful practice that each of us can do on a daily basis to actively protect our environment. Even the smallest of efforts can have a significant impact on the health of our planet.

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