2020 may have become the year many Americans “resolved” to stayed home, but it taught us the value of recycling as a valuable and essential public service and allowed us to confront the daily reality of how valuable recycling is to critical supply chains providing cardboard for online order shipments, packaging for food, and even raw materials for that ever-elusive gem – toilet paper.
If you’re tired of the same old new year’s resolutions – you know – the ones you abandon before the end of January, why not resolve to recycle more this year?
It’s not only a simple resolution, it’s one that benefits the environment, creates jobs, reduces litter, and benefits future generations. When it comes to impactful resolutions, recycling just makes sense.
But first, let’s explore why we should all recycle.
Why recycle? What are we wasting for™?
- Recycling benefits the environment by diverting hundreds of millions of pounds of valuable materials from landfills and avoiding millions of metric tons of greenhouse emissions annually, creating healthier air and cleaner waterways. Recycling also reduces the need for sourcing new raw materials through mining and logging, which can create water pollution and emit greenhouse gases. It also saves energy used to produce new products from raw materials.
- Recycling creates jobs and supports our economy. As recently as 2017, recycling generated $117 billion in economic activity and $13.2 billion in tax revenue. Today, recycling employs more than 156,000 men and women nationwide and could create more than one 1 million new jobs within the next two decades (va Eco-cycle).
- Recycling benefits future generations by decreasing our use and reliance on natural resources and decreasing what we put in landfalls, which leads to the production of greenhouse gases and decreases water and air pollution.
10 Tips to Help You Recycle More, Better in 2021 #RecyclingMatters
But just how can we recycle more, better in 2021? Here are our top tips for a new year, new recycling habits to ensure we all make new year’s resolutions we can keep.
- Start by participating. Half of what American households throw away is recyclable. Check locally to know what’s accepted in your curbside recycling, what day it’s picked up, or find a nearby drop-off site.
- Know what to throw [and what not to throw]. Recycling is a global issue that requires local solutions. Many communities accept different materials. In most communities, plastic bags, clothing, food and liquid, garden hoses, electrical cords, Styrofoam™, needles and yard waste do not belong in curbside recycling. Visit your local city website to learn what materials are and are not accepted.
- Properly dispose of masks, wipes, and gloves. While we may turn our hopes toward broad distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, please remember to properly dispose of gloves, masks, and wipes. These items are not recyclable and should not be flushed.
- Twin the bin. Make it easy for anyone in your house to recycle as easy as it is to throw something away. Locate your in-home recycling bin next to your trash can. For extra credit, twin the bin in your kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry room. Most of a home’s recyclables originate in these three rooms.
- Empty your recyclables. Before you toss your empty cans, bottles, and cartons, make sure you remove food waste and such – then recycle.
- Return items to stores for recycling. Some items can’t be recycled at the curbside in some programs. These include plastic wraps and films, plastic shopping bags, and air shipping pillows. Many retail locations provide recycling centers for these items. Check where your buy your groceries, electronics, and hardware for participating locations.
- Keep electronics and batteries out of the recycling cart. While these should be recycled, batteries and electronics do not belong in your curbside recycling cart, trash, or bin. These can start fires at recycling centers, trash centers, and in trucks. Please take a moment to check locally for hard-to-recycle items.
- Don’t bag your recyclables. Most curbside recycling and drop-off programs require recyclables to be placed directly into the cart or bin. Unless your community instructs otherwise, don’t bag your recyclables.
- Customize and download your free recycling signs. Help recycle better where you live, learn, work, and play. Our DIYSigns for recycling will help your family, friends, students, teammates, and colleagues recycle more, better. Get started personalizing and downloading yours for free.
- Reduce, reuse, and rethink. When it comes to sustainability, reducing, reusing, and rethinking only help to further recycling efforts to protect our planet. Find ways to reduce your consumption, reuse items, and rethink your needs and approach. For example, you can:
- Reduce by purchasing smaller amounts of food or having it pre-cut to your family’s unique needs. Remember, when it comes to sustainability, it starts at the cart.
- Reuse by purchasing reusable options of products and shop with your reusable shopping bag.
- Rethink by considering the packaging of what you purchase to see if it’s recyclable or made from recycled content. Learn more about the circularity of packaging here.
While recycling may feel universal, the truth is only slightly more than half of Americans can easily recycle at home, but together we’re working to change this and transform U.S. recycling for good. Tell us how #recyclingmatters to you by tagging us on social media or using the hashtag recycling matters. Together, let’s #recycle2020 into an even better year for recycling in 2021.