Every year on April 22, people around the globe celebrate Earth Day. This worldwide holiday was designed to draw attention to and demonstrate support for environmental protection—something that becomes more important with each passing year. This year, make Earth Day your time to evaluate your recycling habits and make them better than ever.
Do a little research
Knowing what can and cannot be recycled is extremely important, and the rules tend to vary from area to area. If your refuse pickup is handled by your city, TreeHugger.com recommends contacting them and asking for a list of recycling do’s and don’ts. Private companies also offer their own lists that you can find online or have them send you. Once you know exactly what you can put in your recycling bin and what needs to be trashed, you’ll be better prepared.
Prepare before recycling
According to WasteManagement.com, it’s important to prepare your containers before recycling them. For plastic containers, that means making sure they are recyclable (check with your refuse provider for a list), removing the plastic tops and rinsing the containers out with water. Similarly, cans and glass containers should be washed out and free from food residue. Prepare cardboard for recycling by removing all packing materials, breaking boxes down and keeping it dry and free from food waste. By crushing cans and plastic bottles and breaking down boxes, you can fit more recyclables in your bin and won’t have to resort to trashing them.
Reuse everyday objects
Rather than throwing everything in the recycling or trash pile, consider how you can reuse common household items. For example, Columbia University’s Environmental Health and Safety department lists multiple uses for old newspapers, such as wrapping and storing delicate items like china and Christmas tree ornaments, covering plants during a frost, starting fires and stuffing under doors and windows to prevent drafts. With a little creativity, you can easily find new uses for items you would typically recycle or throw out.
Compost, don’t trash
Recycling doesn’t have to end with plastic bottles, cans and cardboard. Rather than throwing out your veggie peelings, start your own compost. A simple online search turns up numerous step-by-step guides on starting your own compost. But don’t just stop at peelings—Americarecyclesday.org also recommends adding coffee grounds and egg shells to your compost, or even just tossing them straight into the garden to enrich your soil.
Think outside the (recycling) box
Composting isn’t the only way you can recycle waste. According to Iwanttoberecycled.org, part of the Keep America Beautiful initiative, yard trimmings account for more than 13 percent of the waste sent to landfills. Instead of throwing out your trimmings, add it to your compost. Alternatively, you can simply leave your grass cuttings and dead leaves where they fall and allow the nutrients to be absorbed back into the soil.
Donate unwanted goods
Thrift stores and charities are always looking for donations, and your closet is the perfect place to look for things you can recycle this way. Also consider visiting thrift stores when you’re in need of new clothes—TrueActivist.com says that buying recycled clothing items lowers your carbon footprint and reduces waste by keeping both old clothes and packaging from new clothes out of the landfill. Plus, you’ll end up with a unique wardrobe and will be much less likely to show up to your next party wearing the same dress as your friend.
Earth Day is the ideal time to think about recycling, but make sure you’re being conscious of your recycling habits year-round. Using these tips, consider how you can make 2017 your year to step up your recycling game.
This article is presented by CitySide Subaru in Belmont, Massachusetts.