Recycling Basics to Get You Started

May 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

Resolving global warming might be out of reach for the average energy consumer. But there are things that anyone can do to make a difference to make a positive impact on the world around them. Recycling is a great thing that anyone can start to do for the planet. It saves a tremendous amount of energy and cuts back on non-biodegradable waste. Collectively, if we all did our part to recycle and reduce our home waste output, we could be ensuring a cleaner and greener earth for generations to come. It’s easy to get started and can soon be part of your home routine.

In order to find out what items are recyclable, examine the container for the recycle seal. The seal is a triangular sign with the letter R and a number that stands for the type of material which can help you know where to recycle. Make sure your recyclable items are rinsed out and clean. You can keep them in labeled bins so that they are already sorted and ready to go.

Many communities have recycling services. Because of government incentives and grant money available to green communities with effective recycling programs, there aren’t many communities that don’t have something available. In some areas, particularly large cities, recycling is mandatory, and to not participate could result in a fine. Some towns have a service that picks items up curbside. Other communities have facilities where you can drop items off. If there is nothing currently available where you live, consider getting together with neighbors or friends to see what you can do to get one started.

Here are some of the items that are recyclable in most communities:

• Plastics – check plastic containers to make sure they are recyclable. Make every effort to recycle plastic, as it will never break down in a landfill, and can be re-made into many diverse and useful items.
• Glass – most facilities require glass separated by color: clear, green, and brown. Make sure to recycle light bulbs, mirrors, and sheet glass separately.
• Aluminum Cans – some areas even reimburse recyclers for aluminum cans.
• Paper – keep newspaper separate, as it can go back into recycled newsprint. For other paper, remove all rubber bands and plastic wrap.
• Cardboard – this includes corrugated cardboard baled together and tied, and plastic lined drink cartons.

Other materials that may be recyclable but have to be taken to specially approved facilities include motor oil, batteries, metals, and paint. Some major chain office supply stores will take used rechargeable batteries or cell phones free of charge.

So many things that we use can be recycled. This allows materials to be reused to make something else that is needed, after it is specially cleaned and melted down. Items made from recycled items are called post consumer recycled content. You can purchase door mats made from old flip flops, paper products from old newspaper, or even a toothbrush from post consumer recycled content.

There is no limit to what can be made from materials that would otherwise be filling our landfills without decomposing. Recycling helps to save natural resources and contributes to a cleaner and greener environment. Besides creating jobs and saving waste and energy, it also saves money.