Tired of the same old new year’s resolutions? You know, the ones you abandon before February? Why not resolve to recycle more where you work, live, learn, buy, and play? It’s not only a simple resolution, it’s one that benefits the environment, creates jobs, reduces litter, and benefits future generations.
But first, let’s recap 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, and it can only get better. The Recycling Partnership’s Paying it Forward report highlighted the significant investment needed to transform the U.S. residential recycling system and encourage many positive outcomes, including the creation of close to 200,000 new jobs and an economic benefit of $30.8 billion over 10 years. That economic benefit includes wages, taxes, landfill savings, and the value of recyclables.
- Recycling benefits future generations by decreasing our use and reliance on natural resources, decreasing overly wasteful landfills, which lead to the production of greenhouse gases, and decreasing water and air pollution.
10 Tips to Recycle More, Better in the New Year
But just how can we recycle more, better next year? 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 dropoff site.
- Know what to throw. Recycling is a global issue that requires local solutions. Many communities accept different materials. Visit your local city website to learn what materials are and are not accepted.
- Know what not to throw. The No List. Plastic bags, clothing, food and liquid, garden hoses, electrical cords, Styrofoam, needles and yard waste do not belong in curbside recycling.
- Twin the bin. Make it easy for anyone in your house to recycle – just 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. These include plastic wraps and films, plastic shopping bags, and air shipping pillows. Many retail locations provide recycling centers for these items. To find a retail location near you, check out the drop-off directory from BagandFilmRecycling.org.
- 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 or bin. These can start fires at recycling 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 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 eliminating single-use items and opting instead for a reusable shopping bag.
- Rethink by considering the packaging of what your purchase to see if it’s recyclable or how your approach your consumption when it comes to items like cloth versus paper napkins.
While recycling may feel universal, the truth is only slightly more than half of Americans can recycle at home as easily as they can throw something away, but together we’re working to deliver a better U.S. recycling system.