If there’s one thing humans know how to do, and do well, it’s make trash. We consume and consume, tossing the husks, wrappings and spoiled remains over our shoulder without a second look. Well, that pile of waste we’ve built behind us has now become a towering mountain, and someday soon it will topple down around us.
If you’d like to break this cycle, to be less of virus and more of an equal member of the global ecosystem, recycling is one of the easiest steps you can take.
Please note that I didn’t say recycling is one of the most powerful steps you can take. It isn’t. Reducing your consumption, and personally reusing or repairing the things you have, is what makes an instant and powerful impact. But I realize that not everyone is in a position to do those things right now. Maybe you don’t have the skills to repurpose things, or maybe you just don’t have the time. I get that. Which brings us around to recycling.
Recycling is the gateway eco-friendly behavior because it’s so very similar to something we already do: throw junk we don’t want or need into a container to be hauled away. Recycling typically involves the SAME EXACT motion, it’s just a different container with a different, less wasteful destination.
If you‘re like the average American, you generate 4.4 pounds of trash in just one 24 hour period. Instead of all that trash going into a landfill, recycling is an easy way to ensure stuff is given a new life. And wouldn’t you know it, America Recycles Day, an annual celebration of recycling, is just around the corner.
On November 15, companies like Waste Management, Home Depot and Anheuser-Busch partner with Keep America Beautiful to encourage Americans to recycle more (right now, we only recycle about 35 percent of the total solid waste stream, which is pretty pathetic compared to other countries).
Here are 5 Ways You Can Improve Your Recycling in Honor of America Recycles Day:
1. Start sharing. Simply put, the less we buy, the less we throw away. Collaborative consumption is a new trend making it easy to gain access to the things we need without having to permanently own them. By sharing, swapping and renting stuff — including tools, appliances, cars, bikes, clothes and toys — instead of shopping for it, we keep unnecessary waste out of the landfill. Read more about how the sharing economy works in this Care2 post: Why Sharing is Good for Ourselves and Our World.
2. Become a Repurposer. A few generations ago, nothing hit the trash can unless it was absolutely destroyed. Our grandparents repaired things until they couldn’t be repaired any more. And if that happened, they turned that something into something else. Today, we’re unfamiliar with many of these repair and repurpose skills, but it’s possibly to get them back. Check out RepurposeEverything.org, 100 Ways to Repurpose Everything, How to Recycle or Reuse Anything, How To Reuse It Creatively and the following Care2 posts to keep just about anything out of the landfill:
- 15 Fantastic Ways To Repurpose Your Shoe Boxes
- 22 Ways To Repurpose Old Magazines
- 24 Ways To Reuse Old Sweaters
- 15 Ways To Reuse Empty Cans
- 16 Ways To Reuse Wine Bottles
3. Sign up for curbside recycling. Although Americans have been recycling for decades, you’d be surprised how many of us don’t take advantage of recycling programs through public and private waste management programs. If your waste hauler offers recycling and you’re not participating, now is the time to sign up. (Bonus! By recycling more, you can usually downsize your trash container, which saves money.)
4. No curbside recycling available in your area? Go to IWantToBeRecycled.org to find the nearest recycling center near you. Pick one day of the week to be recycling day, and on that day, collect all of your recyclables and take them to the drop-off center. The website also contains facts on what materials can be recycled and what they can become in their new lives.
5. Sign the America Recycles Day pledge and share the America Recycles Day Thunderclap with your social networks. The more people that spread the word, the more people will hear the message. Not to mention, 10 lucky people who take the pledge will win a park bench, made from recycled materials, of course.
How will you celebrate America Recycles Day?
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