As someone who cares about the environment, you likely already recycle, or you are considering adopting this practice. Unfortunately, many don’t realize that recycling can make a major impact on your local community and the global environment. Just one simple practice can make a big difference. Recycling is something you can easily adapt into your everyday life, as long as you know some basics. Consider this a crash course for everything you need to know to either begin recycling or perfect your recycling methods.
Recycling reduces waste from landfills
Out of sight, out of mind does not apply to the trash we produce. This is where the problem begins. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that Americans alone generate over 250 million tons of waste every year, most of which do not get recycled or composted. The waste is sent to landfills and incinerators, polluting our environment. Even if you don’t live near a landfill, you are affected by the waste it houses. It is difficult to keep waste inside of landfills, especially when there is an excess. Waste runoff can occur, carrying an uncontrollable amount of chemicals and sediment, some of which ends up in our water supply. According to the EPA, landfills are the third-largest source of human methane emissions in the US. Methane is one of the most damaging greenhouse gases, 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and a main contributor to the climate crisis.
Benefits of recycling
Now you may be thinking, how does recycling help? For starters, it reduces the amount of waste in landfills and incinerators. By reducing how much waste we produce, we ultimately reduce methane emissions. Most importantly, recycling is a proactive method to conserving our natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals. The less we waste, the less we need to extract from our environment. Most importantly, recycling saves energy and reduces other greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide. When we send waste to incinerators, we are using energy to burn our trash, wasting valuable energy and emitting additional toxins from incinerator fumes. Lastly, adopting a recycling practice helps protect valuable ecosystems and wildlife. You can feel good knowing you are helping preserve the homes of our flora and fauna.
How to recycle the right way
Recycling can differ depending where you live. Always check with your local recycling center and waste management for the most accurate information. The most common recyclables include bottles, cans, paper, and cardboard. Cardboard boxes need to be flattened prior to going into the recycle bin. If you are collecting water bottles or any recyclables in a plastic bag, do not leave them in the bag. Dump them directly into your bin so they can be recycled. Paper, newspaper, and magazines are easily recycled, but they cannot be wet. If they are wet, compost them instead! You may not know this, but glass bottles and containers are easy to recycle because some communities have curbside pick-up or drop-off services specifically for glass.
How to recycle the wrong way
Make sure you rinse out any bottles, cans, and containers before putting them into your recycle bin. Although cardboard is recyclable, you must ensure that it is clean. If there is any residue or food on it, it will not get recycled. Also make sure any items are not tangled, they can break the recycling equipment and pose a hazard. As mentioned above, don’t leave recyclables in plastic bags. Plastic bags are recyclable, but not in the same process. You will have to find a facility that specifically takes plastic bags. Lastly, here are a few things that are not recyclable.
- Plastic wrap and film such as sandwich bags and bubble wrap
- Flexible packaging, if there are multiple materials present it won’t recycle
- Cups with wax or plastic coating
- Polystyrene foam and plastic
- Anything dirty that may “spoil” your recyclables
Purchase the right products
You can bring the recycling process full circle by purchasing and using products made from recycled materials or products that can be easily recycled. When shopping, here are some things you may see on packaging.
· Recyclable product – This product is made from recycle-friendly materials and can easily be recycled after you are done using them. Just check with your local recycling programs to confirm they accept this type of product.
· Recycled-content product – A product with this label is made with recycled materials sourced from the recycling process. Note that usually not all of the product is made from recycled materials. The label will usually say what percentage of the product is recycled.
· Post-consumer content – This label is similar to recycled-content but the materials are collected from a business-ran recycling program, not the traditional recycling process.
Knowing what to look for when you go shopping is a great way to support the recycling lifecycle. You can also be conscious about the type of product packaging you are supporting. Produce less waste by buying less waste! Buying bulk groceries or products with minimal plastic packaging can make a big impact.
Recycling makes a big impact
Just imagine the big impact you can make by adopting a recycling habit. It may just be an extra few steps in your day, but it contributes to the fight against the climate crisis. Freedom Forever is committed to doing its part as well. Not just through recycling, but with other changes like solar energy. Our biggest reason for doing what we do is because we are passionate about the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Talk to one of our authorized independent dealers and see how passionate they are about preserving the environment as well!