Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is Recycling Really That Simple?

arrowhead reborn bottle image
A few years ago I had dinner at a friend's house. After dinner, I helped clear the table and kitchen. He tossed a plastic water bottle in the trash can. In a surprised voice I asked, "Oh, you don't recycle?" To which he replied, "No, but I really should." I was really surprised that my friend didn't recycle at home, after all, I've seen him recycle elsewhere, and all the time. So, are people really green or are they just green when people are watching?

Over the years, more and more people have joined the recycling bandwagon. Everywhere I look I see bins for recycling: amusement parks, malls, business offices, schools, grocery stores, etc. I also see a lot of people taking advantage of these bins and tossing in paper, clean plastic bags, aluminum cans, and water bottles. And yet, still so many don't. The US is the world's top consumer of water bottles, but of all the plastic bottles manufactured and used here, less than 30% are recycled.

arrowhead launching reborn bottle poster

The good news is that some companies have noticed and have made a change. Last year Arrowhead launched a plastic water bottle that is not only recyclable but is made with 50% recycled material. Arrowhead's ReBorn bottle is made from high quality recycled plastic; a resource that is in limited supply. By doing your part and recycling, you can help Arrowhead keep plastic from landfills and manufacture more recycled bottles. Check out Arrowhead's Facebook page to learn more about the ReBorn initiative and Arrowhead's partnership with Keep America Beautiful. 

So, to answer my question above: Is recycling really that simple? Yes, it is. If you already recycle, fantastic! If you don't, here's a little something to get you started.

Recycling DOs

DO recycle. I can't put it any simpler than that. There are many things you can recycle and in many different ways. Waste management in some communities provides a special bin for recyclables. Give them a call and request for one. The internet is your friend; find a recycling center near you. A little bit of research can go a long way.

DO keep it simple; start with baby steps. If your family drinks beverages, recycle beverage containers. If your waste management picks up mixed recyclables, then start with mixed paper and move slowly to other items. Different facilities accept different items so check what items you can and can't recycle. It's best to check with your waste management for this detail.

DO provide an environment conducive to recycling. Place a recycling bin next to your trash bin so instead of throwing something away, you can recycle it. You can also put a small box next to your work table or wherever you open mail. Instead of throwing away junk mail and unwanted mailers, just toss them in the box for recycling later.

DO trade your recyclables in for money. If doing good for the planet doesn't get you motivated, then do it for the cash.  In California, we are charged a minimum of $.05 per recyclable beverage container at the store during purchase, called CRV. Consumers see a portion of that money back when they recycle the containers.

DO get the rest of the household involved. Decorate special bins or signs with the kids or your roommates. Discuss the importance of recycling for the planet, your community, and family. Try and get everyone on board. It will make recycling easier and every member can keep each other accountable. 

Recycling DON'Ts

DON'T think of recycling as a burden, another chore to be done. In fact, recycling minimizes landfill burden. If you frame recycling as something positive, then it will be a positive experience.

DON'T make it complicated (See point two above). Try not to overwhelm yourself or your family, especially if recycling is new to everyone. The goal is not just for you to start recycling, but to get the whole family invested in the process so that everyone can pitch in and make it a routine.

DON'T recycle something dirty. Soiled recyclables, or those that still have food waste, can contaminate an entire bale. So, instead of heading to the recycling center, they'll head to the landfill.

DON'T recycle items that shouldn't be recycled. For example, if you're recycling paper, don't include the paper clip or stapler. Although an item may have the recycling symbol, some facilities only accept items of certain resin codes. It's best to check your facility for what they will accept.

DON'T give up. It takes time to establish good habits. Try, try, try. If you can recycle just one thing, whether it's aluminum cans, plastic beverage bottles, paper, whatever, then you're already making an impact.

Still not convinced? Watch Recycling Is A Beautiful Thing. It might just change your mind.

I love hearing from my readers. Do you recycle? Care to share your recycling tips?


Earth Policy Institute
Waste Management

Disclosure: Sponsored post. All opinions expressed are my own.