I used to feel we were the trashiest people on earth. My family of five generated so much trash. We took the trash out every day (granted we have a small trash can) and I felt like we could do better.
My four year old son learned about recycling at pre-school last year and talks about it all the time. When he sees a recycling symbol he feels the need to say that item can be recycled. I was finally fed up with our trash and decided to see how hard it would be for our family to recycle. Our city already provides us with a recycle bin and curbside pick-up free of charge so there was really no excuse to start recycling. The first week I just used old diaper boxes to see how many bins we would need and where the best place for our recycling center would be (after all, if it wasn’t convenient for my family to put the stuff in the bins, I knew we wouldn’t do it). Fortunately our city does not require us to separate paper, plastic, aluminum/tin cans, or glass so one large bin would suffice. I checked our city’s website and printed out a list of what they collect and taped it to the box. We quickly learned just about everything could be recycled!
A few tips:
- Plastic shopping bags, sandwich bags, bread bags, the plastic bags in cracker/cereal boxes and plastic wrap (like the wrap around toilet paper or paper towels) can also be recycled, but it must be taken to the shopping bag collection points in any major grocery store (the thin plastic wraps around the sorting machines, causing them to break frequently – check this out for more details)
- Rinse food containers out before placing in your recycling bin or you will end up with one giant messy recycle bin (and who wants that!). It also removes the food oils from the containter.
- Lids and labels do not need to be removed and yes, most lids can be recycled.
- Paper sacks can be recycled, but cardboard fast food containers (such as fry containers) cannot due to the oils/grease.
- Plastic straws and lids cannot be recycled
- Cardboard can be recycled – old cereal or cracker boxes, even empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls
- Napkins, tissue, and paper towels cannot be recycled
Ink cartridges, batteries and light bulbs can also be recycled but must usually be taken to a different facility. Luckily my son’s school collects batteries and my daughter’s school collects ink cartridges. That just leaves the light bulbs. We have one collection point in the city for regular light bulbs, but most home improvement stores will take CFL bulbs.
After seeing what our needs were I set out to find the perfect recycling center for us and found these terrific bins (I was amazed at the variety of recycling bins out there, so cool!). I was able to purchase one 13 gallon bin and one 8 gallon bin that stack and fit between my washer and dryer perfectly. Our laundry room is just off the kitchen and opens into the garage so the spot is perfect. I love that I can stack the two different sizes and that they have lids. Since the bins are in the house, I didn’t want open bins revealing all our trash and I can put things on the top bin.
I’ve been amazed at how much we’ve reduced our trash with just this one small change. Now if I could figure out what to do with those chip bags (which aren’t recyclable in our city). Does your family recycle? I’d love to here your tips!
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