Going Green: Easy Ways to Recycle Household Items
Going green begins with three easy steps: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. We've talked about ways in which we can reduce and reuse everyday items, so today we will explore the wonderful world of recycling. Recycling used to be complicated and time consuming, but those days are over. In 2012, recycling is easy and as American as apple pie!
There are numerous benefits to recycling. Did you know that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when we recycle, we also:
- protect and expand U.S. manufacturing jobs
- increase U.S. competitiveness
- reduce the need for landfilling and incineration
- save energy
- decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases
- conserve natural resources such as timber, water and minerals
- help to sustain the environment for future generations
4 Ways to Recycle Household Items
Each community is different in its approach to recycling, but the four most common methods for individuals and families to participate in recycling are:
- Drop-off centers
- Buy-back centers
- Deposit/refund programs
Curbside recycling is the most convenient way to recycle. Over half of the U.S. population has the opportunity to take part in this method of recycling. If you are one of the lucky ones, then you are able to recycle glass, plastic, paper and metal.
Drop-Off Center Recycling
Drop-off centers are located in communities for individuals and families to drop off their recyclable items if curbside recycling is not available in their neighborhood or community. These centers are usually located near shopping centers, grocery stores, schools, fire departments, and other central locations that are highly visible to the public. Each drop-off center varies with regard to which items can be recycled, but most will accept plastic, paper products, and aluminum (find a recycling center near you).
Buy-Back Center Recycling
Buy-back centers buy aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles. This provides individuals and families who may be having a hard time making ends meet with a little extra money and is an excellent way to teach kids how to recycle while also saving money.
Deposit/refund programs allow consumers to bring cans and bottles back for a deposit (usually 5 cents) that has previously been added to the sales tax.
Household Items That Can Be Recycled
Glass, Paper, Plastic and Metal: What's allowed and what isn't?
- Glass: clear, blue, green and brown bottles and jars (no Pyrex).
- Paper: newspaper, magazines, cardboard, corrugated cardboard, paper packaging, junk mail, flyers and/or advertisements, cardboard milk and juice cartons, cardboard egg cartons, envelopes, printer paper, phone books, brown paper bags etc.
- Plastic with the following codes are accepted by most curbside recycling programs:
- Plastic with the following codes are accepted by some curbside recycling programs (check with your local recycling program listing for verification).
- Plastic with the following codes are rarely accepted by curbside recycling programs. It is best to try to avoid purchasing products that have these codes and/or packaged in materials that have these codes:
- Metal: aluminum cans, aluminum foil, foil packaging, food cans, empty aerosol cans, steel, copper, brass, and bronze.
Never place the following items in your recycling bin:
- Household hazardous waste: oil, antifreeze, fuel, poisons, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, paint, paint thinner, regular and rechargeable household and car batteries, thermometers, compact fluorescent light bulbs, bleach and/or other corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive materials (find a hazardous waste recycling center near you).
- Electronics: computers, printers, television sets, radios, cellphones etc (learn more about how you can recycle electronics).
Food for Thought
Six pack rings, grocery bags, and other plastic items often make their way into our streams, rivers, and oceans. Be sure to practice compassion when recycling six pack rings by snipping each ring into small pieces and taking plastic grocery bags back to the store to reuse or to be properly recycled. This helps to ensure that wildlife does not become entangled and/or strangled in these items as well as ingesting them by mistake.
What household items do you recycle on a regular basis?
Tracey Lenac is the founder, editor and publisher of Raising California, an online magazine that highlights elements of holistic, organic, GREEN lifestyle choices along with homeschooling and spirituality. She is also the founder of Soul Centered Kids in Los Angeles, California, where she teaches soul centered skills such as meditation, reiki and yoga to children of all ages and developmental abilities and the founder of The Souls of Boys, an online store specializing in non violent, non toxic, soul centered toys, books, media and resources for boys. Tracey has a Master of Arts degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is also a registered Reiki Master/Teacher, organic gardener, the mom of two boys and a secular homeschooler.