Welcome to our Go Green Challenge: 4 Weeks to an Earth-Friendly Home! Find more posts from this series here. As a reminder, we are focusing on reducing the amount of waste we send to the landfill this week.
This is a guest post from Frugal Living NW’s new contributor, Shelly Koetje.
My first exposure to curbside recycling was watching my mom flatten tin cans before putting them in our newly issued yellow recycling bins. I’m pretty sure my brothers and I laughed as she told us she was making the world a better place for her grandchildren. Now I’m the crazy lady retrieving things out of the garbage that should be in the recycling bin. I’ve come a long way.
Having lived on the East coast, the West coast, and in the South, I’m grateful to be back in the Pacific Northwest where curbside recycling is the norm. I hate to admit it though – the main reason I recycle is because it’s convenient and easy for me to do so. I’m sure I’m not alone on that one.
Even with curbside service, there are still a lot of things that go into my garbage can that could be recycled or reused. Curbside service is convenient, but it is also limited (find out what can and cannot be recycled curbside in the Metro region here). I can’t recycle plastic bags, Styrofoam, or plastic lids. I also can’t throw in light bulbs, batteries or those CD’s I’m finally ready to get rid of. There are places that will take those items though.
If you’re ready to start recycling or increase the amount you recycle, here are a few tips:
Have a place to put it.
I have three containers under my kitchen sink: one for compost, one for garbage, and the biggest one is for recycling. In addition, I have a box in the garage for items that I can’t put curbside. Having a designated spot to put items you want to donate or recycle will encourage you to put things in the right place!
There are recycling bins available on Amazon, or simply toss your stuff in a bucket or cardboard box.
Figure out what to do with it.
If you live in the Portland Metro area, visit Metro’s website for a list of recycling facilities that accept items that cannot be recycled curbside. I found a facility near me that takes everything from DVD’s and tennis shoes to computer monitors and hot water heaters. There are all kinds of great organizations out there that can turn your trash into another man’s treasure. Find out where they are and take advantage of what they have to offer!
Get your family members on board.
I retrieve items from the garbage on a somewhat regular basis. My husband just doesn’t care as much as I do and that’s fine. But making sure your family members are at least aware of what can and can’t be recycled is a good place to start. Make recycling easy for family members and guests by having it be as convenient as possible. If your area does curbside recycling, find and post their recycling guide in your kitchen or near your garbage can.
Tip from Angela: Put a recycling can in rooms that produce recycle-able waste to increase the likelihood that it will be disposed of properly by all in your household. Add a container to your office for the paper and your bathroom to catch the toilet paper rolls, empty bottles, and cardboard boxes from feminine products.
Focus on reducing as well as recycling.
In the waste reduction hierarchy (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) recycle is on the bottom. As passionate as people can become about recycling, it should actually be a last resort. Choose items with less packaging, and think twice before purchasing. We often buy things we don’t really need, which creates unnecessary waste.
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I love the bins pictured I got an awesome deal on these at Sears, but also found them online walmart, and Fredmeyer was carring them. It is a huge help, since we do our own trash. What was costing us $200 plus a year and only had one can per week. We now only spend about $60 a year maybe. These also allow me to keep recycle organized but not have to run to the dump monthly.