I recently read about a family that produces only one trash bag worth of trash a year. That is some impressive green living. I really don’t know how they do it. While I applaud their feat, stories like this are both inspiring and daunting. As a family of four considers its weekly trash heap, it is easy to get discouraged considering it’s size and the seemingly immense task at whittling away at that pile. But it doesn’t have to be (and really shouldn’t be) daunting.
Becoming more green and limiting your footprint on our planet doesn’t have to be a giant leap. Each small step you make toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle adds up. Recycling that single plastic bottle may not seem so important, but if every person in America recycled one plastic bottle that would save approximately 313,303,223 bottles from landfills. That’s a small step that would make a giant impact.
In honor of Earth Month, I have partnered with SCOTT Naturals™ on a series of posts about small changes you can make in your home to help make a difference for the planet (and ultimately our children). I promise none of these steps are painful, but as with any new habit they take time to actually become routine. I practice what I preach, these are real things my family really does.
Let’s talk about recycling.
By now everyone knows the basic things that can be recycled – plastic bottles, aluminum cans, newspapers. Hopefully, you are already setting an example for your children and recycling those things at home. (If not, today is a great day to start.) However, one of the biggest drawbacks to recycling is the convenience factor. If you don’t make it easy to recycle, you (and your family) won’t do it. The trash is just easier. Stop expecting everyone to take each can/bottle to the garage and create a space for recyclables in the kitchen.
I know space is at a premium – I get it. But if you make it easy, it will happen. We installed an under-the-counter, pull-out recycle bin in our kitchen about five years ago, and it made a tremendous difference in our day-to-day habits. No more piles of recyclables waiting to go in the garage, we just fill the bin like we do the trash and empty it as needed.
You can recycle what?
Most of us know newspaper is recyclable, but have you ever stopped to think that every scrap of is also recyclable? It’s true. Magazines, junk mail, school papers… it is all recyclable. (A couple of years ago, I blew my friend’s mind when I told her that and totally changed her way of thinking about recycling.) You know what else belongs in the paper category? Cardboard and paperboard boxes. That means every cereal box, tissue box, diaper box, toilet paper roll, etc. — all recyclable.
Everyday more people are converting from paper or plastic to reusable bags (yeay!). The switch is definitely one of those life habits you have to develop in order to remember to bring them with you. But if I can remember to bring my reusable bags everywhere I go, you can too. (The key is keeping at least one reusable bag that folds up in your purse for when you forget. I have this one in Chai, you can also get a four-pack, which is more budget friendly.) Amazingly even though we rarely bring home plastic grocery bags, nearly every month I take a bag full of plastic bags to be recycled. How is that possible? Because you are forgetting about all of those other plastic bags we use that can be recycled like – Zip-lock baggies, the bag in the cereal box, plastic bags filled with air that come in mailed packages, dry cleaning bags, diaper bags and so many more.
Don’t ignore the numbers. That little recycle symbol with a number in it is put on plastics for a reason, to remind you that it can be recycled. Don’t ignore it, use it as a reminder. You would be amazed at how much of that impossible-to-open toy packaging is recycleable. First the paperboard box, then the plastic display pieces.
(By the way, the only part of the container above that is not recyclable is the ribbon, which I will upcycle into something else.)
In my area curbside recycling picks up plastics #1-7, paper and aluminum. While that is a typical pick up, it’s important to know what your municipal collects. Google “recycle” plus your county, and look for your area’s recycling information. The more you know about recycling, the more likely you are to do it.
Rewards for recycling
Need even more incentive to recycle (than just helping make our world a better place to live in)? Join Recyclebank where you can earn points for recycling (if your area participates) and for taking online quizzes designed to inspire you to learn more about living green. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards, coupons and more — freebies for making small steps toward living more green.
Test Drive Green
But recycling is only the first step. To complete the cycle, you must also buy green products. That means products made from recycled materials. More and more packaging is being made out of recycled materials (I learned on Recyclebank that 50% of recycled materials is reused in the form of packaging), but there are other things you can buy made from recycled materials. Have you seen the toys made from recycled milk jugs – so cute.
Another idea, switch your paper goods to products made from recycled materials like the SCOTT Naturals™ line (you knew I would get there, right). Scott Naturals is world’s first line of hybrid paper products, which means its products are made from blend of virgin material and at least 20% recycled material in products or packaging. In fact, if everyone tried SCOTT Naturals™ for just four weeks, we’d save over 2 million trees. That’s a small step that would make a giant impact.
For Earth Month, SCOTT Naturals™ challenges you to make that small step and take the 4-Week Test Drive – swapping your old toilet paper, napkins, paper towels and flushable wipes for SCOTT Naturals™. For your first step, sign up at ScottBrand.com and pledge to accept the challenge. As added incentive, the state with the greatest number of pledges will receive a $50,000 donation to be applied to local conservation efforts. Another easy way one small step can lead to a big change.
Oh, and to get you started with your 4-Week Test Drive, how about some SCOTT Naturals coupons?
So there you have it, a few recycling tips for a recycling guru.
- Make it easy.
- Consider each piece of trash – can that be recycled?
- Buy products or packaging made from recycled materials.
- Take the SCOTT Naturals™ challenge.
I’ll have more easy tips for you to live a greener life throughout the month of April. Stay tuned.
PS – My family is very proud to say that we produce only one bag of trash per week. On the other hand, we overflow 2-3 recycle bins.
Disclosure – This series of posts was brought to you by Scott Naturals, however, all thoughts, opinions and tips are my own.