2. Know How to Recycle Plastic Bags
Shoppers worldwide use 500 billion single-use plastic bags each year, which often become part of the estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris floating in our oceans. Because they take so long to break down, they contribute to the deaths of more than 100,000 marine creatures each year that get tangled in ocean plastic.
You might already know the impact that discarded plastic bags have on the environment, but did you know they usually can’t be processed by regular recycling plants? Instead, separate your plastic bags from the rest of your recycling and drop them off at a special plastic bag collection point — most grocery stores have them.
3. Make Your Morning Coffee at Home
You’re probably conscious of everyday recycling at home, but sometimes that mindset gets pushed aside when you’re on the run. Most disposable coffee cups, for example, are lined with polyethylene, which makes them nonrecyclable. It is estimated that every minute more than 1 million disposable cups are tossed in the trash. Invest in a reusable coffee cup instead.
4. Repair, Share and Reuse
Sweden is leading the way in recycling — it has sent only 1% of its waste to landfills since 2011. Much of their success comes from the Swedish ethos of miljönär-vänlig, a play on the Swedish words for environment and millionaire that suggests people can save cash as well as the environment by making, borrowing and recycling.
Internalize this idea by repairing your damaged clothing instead of tossing it out, or by hosting a dress-swap party with your friends so your unwanted garments can find a new wearer. You can also wash your clothing with Downy Fabric Conditioner, which helps prevent pilling, stretching and fading in fabrics. And think of crafty ways to use items you’d otherwise toss: Jam jars can be turned into candleholders, and old tights can be used to store onions.
5. Wash and Squash
By cleaning your recycling before it goes in the bin, you reduce contamination and improve recycling efficiency. First, scrape off or remove any food leftovers or liquid. Then add a drop of Dawn Ultra Dish Soap and a small amount of water to containers and jugs, and swish vigorously for a few seconds before rinsing. Crush metal cans and squash plastic bottles to squeeze out excess air, and flatten cardboard boxes.
6. Think Beyond Paper, Tin and Glass
Before throwing out an item, think about whether it can be recycled:
- Mattresses are full of valuable materials and can be dropped off at your local recycling center.
- Take stock of small electrical appliances you no longer use, and drop them off at an electronics-recycling center.
- Look for battery-recycling boxes in your area.
- Ask your local optician’s office about recycling old reading glasses.
- Wrapping paper can be recycled as long as you remove the sticky tape and it doesn’t have foil or glitter on it.
Unfortunately, broken drinking glasses can’t be processed with your empty jars because the glass melts at a different temperature, and mixing in broken glass with recyclable glass can cause the whole container to be rejected. Instead, check with your local recycling center if you’re unsure.
While recycling alone won’t solve the world’s waste problems, it’s a terrific place to start — and it’s an easy habit to develop, too. With these tips, you can minimize the amount of trash you send to a landfill and help reduce the impact on our planet as well.