Start responsible recycling today! This is one of the few things you can actually do to support environmental sustainability. Read this post to know more about the basics of responsible recycling, and how you can start doing it today.
Responsible Recycling: Things You Should Know
1. Why Do We Need To Recycle?
Our consumeristic society idolizes the ease and convenience of a “buy and toss” world. Many consumers do not feel responsible for the things they purchase. People keep on buying products with no further thought on how they affect the environment. The reality we’re facing: our resources are dwindling. Moreover, the wastes of the products we use are slowly destroying our world.
Recycling has many benefits. Using recycled materials to make new products, reduces the need for raw materials and energy. It also lessens the amount of garbage and waste. Simply put, recycling helps us conserve our resources, as well as, protect the environment. It’s one of the simplest things we can do to support environmental sustainability.
2. What Are The Rules For Recycling?
The U.S. EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream can be recycled. But we only recycle about 30%. This basically means there is still so much we can do to support the recycling efforts in our country. One thing we can start doing is to follow the responsible recycling guidelines in our respective communities.
One basic guideline, which is implemented in many areas, is waste segregation. In San Diego, recyclable materials are typically placed in the blue trash bins. Many items will be used for recycling if you throw them properly in your city’s curbside bins. Make it a point to follow this simple rule.
There are unique guidelines when it comes to recycling non-standard household materials. These include, old mobile phones, electronics, eyeglasses, expired or unused prescription medications, paint, batteries, household appliances, and more. A special bin might be needed to contain them, or you may have to call authorities for more disposal options.
The rules of recycling often vary by county or city. Please check your city’s website for specific regulations in your neighborhood, or contact your local recycling facilities.
3. What Should We Recycle?
It is more energy efficient to recycle aluminum cans than make new ones from scratch. The process takes about 95% less energy, which is just amazing. What’s even better—aluminum cans can be recycled many times over.
- Plastic Bottles
Making new plastic bottles consumes plenty of energy. But the amount of energy used to create plastic resources from recycled bottles is considerably lower, about two-thirds the norm!
- Newspaper, Magazines, and Mixed Paper
Don’t underestimate paper waste because it takes up about a third of the municipal solid wastes in the U.S. That’s a lot! This is exactly why you must make it a point to recycle them.
- Corrugated Cardboard
Shipping boxes and product boxes take up a chunk of the municipal waste stream as well. If you have big boxes of deliveries, be sure to break them down before recycling them.
- HDPE Plastic Bottles
High-density polyethylene, labeled “2” on products, is a standard and denser plastic; commonly used for milk, bleach, detergents, and shampoo jugs. The resin identification codes will make it easier for you to sort out plastics.
- Glass Containers
Recycling glass saves half the energy spent on making new glass from scratch.
Cities often have seasonal electronic recycling collections. There are computer ink and toner cartridges collections as well.
4. Before You Decide To Recycle
You should always rinse plastic, glass, and aluminum bottles before recycling. Dirt or food particles can contaminate the recycling process. If a pizza box, for example, has grease spots, it is not recyclable. Compost soiled and biodegradable materials such as, greasy pizza boxes, used napkins, and paper towels instead.
Food wastes should be composted as well, instead of being thrown away. According to the U.S. EPA, “Every year in the United States, approximately 31% (133 billion pounds) of the overall food supply is wasted,” and that food wastes, “contributes to the 18% of total U.S. methane emissions that comes from landfills.” Composting food wastes can help reduce methane emissions.
Take note of some materials that cannot be recycled. Styrofoam is one of them, including paper products coated with polyethylene (like coffee cups with insulators), and a variety of plastic products.
5. Buying Recycled and Recyclable Product
The emphasis on recycling also includes buying products made from recyclable materials. Recycled-based production is increasing in some industries by consumer demand.
Many companies these days, proudly promote efforts on recycling. But there are those that advertise their products as recyclable, yet, they do not actually use recyclable materials in their product. Sometimes, only their packaging is recyclable.
Buying environment-friendly products may support your recycling efforts further. By doing this, you help sustainable companies grow and design better products. Remember, your purchasing power is stronger than your political vote. It is important to purchase wisely!
Boost your knowledge about recycling by watching this video from the SciShow:
Don’t waste time and start developing sustainable living practices today! Read up on your local recycling policies. The more you know, the more likely you are to stick to recycle-positive habits. Start small, then build on what you’ve established. Before you know it, you’ll have a responsible recycling routine.
Did you learn anything new about responsible recycling? What are some tips you can share? Let us know in the comments section below!