Just as we cannot blame others for destroying the environment, so we cannot look to others to protect the environment. Responsibility for both begins at home. ~Paul Griss, The Daily Planet
Step 1: Find out what is recycled in your area. Most places will recycle glass, aluminum, paper, cardboard, and plastic. Contact your local City Hall to find out what is available or at least be pointed in the right direction. Your city may also have a website with all the information you need.
Step 2: Decide how many containers you will need. This is directly related to the information you find in Step 1 and what will be easiest for you. For example, will you need/want to separate the #1 and #2 plastics?
Step 3: Find containers. You may already have containers that will work. If you have been clearing the clutter, you may find extra storage bins ready for a new purpose!: Your city may also provide bins specifically for their recycling program. Baskets also work nicely in the kitchen and office. So, just take a look around and see what you find.
Step 4: Make labels. Take all the guess work out of what can and can’t be recycled by placing labels on each bin. The easiest way to make labels is to use a 8 1/2 X 11 piece of paper. Write the needed info and insert into a page protector. Tape the page protector to the bin with packing tape. This protects the label from weather if you leave it outside and it keeps the label from falling off.
Step 5: Create the space. The best place is typically the garage, but be open to see where that place is for you and your family. Make it as easy as possible to sort, take to the drop-off center, or haul to your curb. You will also want a space in the kitchen and office to initially collect items. This prevents recycling from taking over your kitchen counter as well as multiple trips to the main containers.
If this step seems overwhelming or intimidating, I suggest a couple of things. You can start with one or two recycle bins based on what you acquire most. You can also create more space by listing things on www.Freecycle.org. (You will read more about this in Step 8.)
Step 6: Establish a routine. As with everything, your routine has to be SIMPLE or it may not stick!
Here is my routine: I have a bin in my kitchen that catches 95% of all the recycling materials. I don’t sort them here–they just get dumped in after they are rinsed and flattened. When it gets full, I take it to the garage and sort each item into the appropriate bins. (This is where the labels come in handy!) I do the same with my office basket which is typically paper, so it can normally be dumped into the Paper and Cardboard bin.
I also suggest writing the recycling pick-up or drop-off days in your calendar. Maybe you can designate each Friday as recycling day and take the items from the house to the garage. Or, you can make it the day before recycling is picked up. Once you get into a rhythm, it will naturally become part of your life.
Step 7: Be mindful when making future purchases.
You have heard of the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Notice Recycle is the last one mentioned. With mindful purchases you can focus on reducing the items needing recycled. So, on your future shopping trips, consider what products you are buying and how they are packaged. Go for bulk items you use on a regular basis. Another idea is to create a plan to take your own canvas bags to the store to reduce the need for paper and plastic bags.
Most of us are familiar with recycling and reusing, but how often do we think of the third R – REDUCE? ‘Reduce’ is probably the most important of the three Rs because, if we reduced, it would limit the need to recycle and reuse.(~Catherine Pulsifer, from The “Reduce” of Recycle and Reuse
Step 8: Use Freecycle.org. I love Freecycle! So far I have been able to find new homes for a broken guitar, wireless computer card, 2 toilets, a HUGE wall cabinet, blue tiles from our shower, and a cracked Pampered Chef baking stone. (Even with the crack someone wanted it!) If you haven’t checked out www.Freecycle.org, you are missing out. This is fabulous for creating more space in your life and less waste in our landfills!