Tag Archives: Recycling

Is Recycling Only About the Environment?

Recycling is a major part of living a more eco friendly lifestyle. It’s a part many people focus on, and something that has become easier to do in many communities. Some may only offer recycling for the basics, such as metal, glass and paper, while others accept a wide range of plastics as well.

But recycling isn’t all about the environment. It has other benefits, depending on what’s being recycled.

Manufacturing Can Benefit

Some metals are much cheaper to recycle than they are to use fresh from the mine. The EPA says recycling aluminum saves 92% of the energy it takes to process it from bauxite ore.   The demand for aluminum is high, as it is used in common products such as soda cans or siding on houses.

Recycling Creates Jobs

If you want a recycling program, people are going to have to work at the recycling center. That’s jobs for people getting products ready for recycling, transporting recyclable and recycled materials and so forth.

Recycling takes more people to do the work than similar jobs at landfills. Despite that, many kinds of recycling are economically feasible enough that this still saves money over dumping it all in the landfill.

Recycling Saves Money

Communities have realized that it’s worthwhile to have recycling available. Businesses have realized that it’s worth their time to recycle. There’s a good reason for that. They save money.

A good recycling program costs less than many other waste disposal options. The products being recycled can be sold, reducing the cost of the recycling program.

Landfills Benefit

Recycling can’t do away with landfills, but it can slow down the rate at which they are filled. Some areas of the United States are facing a shortage of available space for landfills. Other areas aren’t facing such problems, but it doesn’t hurt to slow down how fast we fill up landfills.

If local landfills are full, then states have to send their garbage elsewhere, increasing the costs to consumers. That’s significant to people living in areas where they have to send their garbage away.

Remember the Other Two Rs

Recycling has a lot of benefits, both to the environment and economically, but it’s not the only thing you should be considering. It’s more important to reduce your consumption and to reuse products when possible. These two actions are the most beneficial to the environment, and are pretty good for your personal finances as well.

How Do You Figure Out What You Can Recycle?

In some areas recycling is required. In others, it’s all but impossible due to a lack of facilities. How do you figure out what you can and cannot easily recycle in your area?

The simplest solution is to check with the company that handles garbage in your area. Many are also in charge of recycling too. If you’re lucky they’re already providing you with a bin for recyclables that you don’t even need to sort yourself. The information you need may even be on the company website.

Many are pretty picky. It’s not too uncommon for plastics recycling to be limited to #1 and #2 plastics in bottle form only. Others will take pretty much any kind of plastic.

Then there’s paper recycling. It’s generally not as restrictive as it used to be, but you do still have to be careful. Most won’t want food stained paper, paper towels or paper napkins. But it’s often not a problem to include glossy paper, envelopes with plastic windows or staples in with the paper.

Glass recycling can be a bit interesting. Glass jars are fine. Most companies ask that you not put in broken glass of any kind. They also generally don’t take light bulbs, glass from dishes, mirrors or windows.

If you have a local recycling company that picks up at your house but is a bit pickier than you’d like, it can pay to check out options for places you can bring your recyclables. Sometimes they’ll be within a reasonable driving distance. Just search for your area and include the word “recycling” and see if anything good comes up.

If the recycling companies don’t have websites, you’ll just have to call them to find out if you can bring anything to them and what they will take.

In general, recycling companies prefer that glass and plastic be rinsed. You probably don’t need to scrub things out, but a quick rinse isn’t a bad idea. It also means your indoor recycle bin won’t get dirty so quickly even if you don’t line it with a bag.

But don’t just think of the everyday little things. You can recycle big things and things you don’t often dispose of too. Just be picky about how you go about it.

Some electronics can be recycled. Be picky, as too many companies aren’t all that honest about how they recycle electronics. Sometimes they’re just shipped off to other countries, where the recycling is done in a rather hazardous and polluting manner. Check the e-Stewards website for reputable electronics recycling. You may even be able to mail your electronics in.

For cell phones that still work, consider donating it instead. There are companies that will send old cell phones to people in developing countries or domestic violence victims.

Compact fluorescent bulbs don’t belong in the trash when they burn out. They have mercury and really aren’t good for the landfill. But IKEA, Home Depot and some other stores may take them in. Check with your nearest location.

Don’t forget the reuse option, of course. Anything that can be reasonably reused consider offering up on Freecycle or donating to a local charity. That’s even better than recycling!

Check Local Recycling Laws – Green Step By Step

One of the challenges of recycling is knowing exactly what you can and cannot recycle. It varies a good bit from place to place. So many places take only plastics #1 and #2 in bottle shape only, while others take just about the whole spectrum. If you don’t know you could be throwing out recyclable plastics or dropping in things that mess up the recycling routine.

In many regions the recycling company has a website you can check. It may be on your bill from the disposal company. If not, find them using your favorite search engine. Smart companies will list on their websites what they do and do not take.

Companies can be picky about the type of plastic. They can be picky about how clean your glass and plastic are before recycling. You may need to sort, although you probably know that one already by the kinds of bins you deal with. Some are more or less restrictive on the kinds of paper you can send in and if they accept shredded paper.

How to Cope with Family Who Won’t Recycle

Keeping the recyclables out of the trash in some homes can be as difficult as keeping the trash out of the recyclables. Some people really just don’t care, even when it’s as easy as picking which of two bins, trash or recycling, their discards go in.

When you have things set up, that can be quite frustrating.

My family in general is pretty good, although my oldest of late has taken to accidentally throwing food into the recycle bin rather than the trash. So much of what she throws out can be recycled that I think it’s almost a reflex to pick that bin. I don’t think it’s a rebellion.

But it did get me thinking about how to cope with people who don’t want to recycle even when it’s easy.

Talk About It

The first step is the simplest and sometimes it even works. Just talk about the issue. Talk about what gets recycled in your area. Talk about why it matters to you.

Ask why they don’t recycle. Ask if there’s anything you can do to encourage them to recycle.

Make Sure It’s Convenient

You can cut down on excuses if recycling is as convenient as throwing out trash. It won’t stop everything, but it can help.

The kitchen is the most obvious place to have a trash can and recycle bin side by side. But any other room where you find there to be a problem, consider adding in a recycle bin.

If people print at the computer a lot, for example, you need a recycle bin there for any wasted paper. It happens. If you only have a trash can there, that’s what will be used. A convenient recycle bin can be a huge help.

Put In Some Extra Effort

If just talking about it doesn’t make any changes, put in a little extra effort yourself and make sure they know that you’re doing it. Pull their recyclables from the trash and put them in the recycle bin. Be upfront that you don’t like the inconvenience of having to do so. Keep your comments appropriate to whoever you’re having the issue with, of course.

Try “An Inconvenient Truth”

Watching “An Inconvenient Truth” isn’t going to convince everyone, but it’s one place to take things. Even if they disagree it’s another conversation starter. Or argument starter, depending on the beliefs of the family member. I do have some relatives who would blow up over even the suggestion to watch this movie.

It’s either get them thinking or arguing. If you want to change someone’s mind sometimes that’s what you need.

Brita + Preserve = Pitcher Filter Recycling in 2009

Take Back the Filter has a great announcement up right now – Brita has partnered with Preserve so that the Brita Pitcher filters can be recycled starting in January 2009. You can read the entire PDF press release here.

I’m quite delighted, and hopeful that this includes their Brita On Tap filters, as that’s what I have. The release doesn’t mention them at all.

It’s a pretty nice deal. If there’s a Whole Foods near you, there will be a place for you to drop your filters off. Otherwise, you can just mail them in.

While I’m disappointed that my filter isn’t listed as included yet, it’s a nice first step. If the lack of recycling for filters has held you back from buying a Brita pitcher, that limitation is now gone, or at least gone in January, which is near enough for shopping purposes. That’s not long at all to start holding on to cartridges if you haven’t started doing that, as well.

I’m also thinking this could make for a nice combination for Christmas presents if you know anyone still buying bottled water. Get them a Brita pitcher and a reusable bottle (maybe more, depending on family size), with a note about recycling the pitcher filters. Might just work for those who make excuses about their tap water quality.