Simple ways to recycle
What is recycling?
Recycling is just reusing certain items instead of throwing away to the garbage. More than two-thirds of the materials we throw away can be recycled. It is not that hard, all we have to do is organize our home and our habits, that way recycling will become a routine and even fun!!! I remember while we were living in the US, my kids love to recycle cans, glass bottles and plastic bottles in order to take them to the supermarket and place them in the recycling machines... we explained them why we were doing this and they really understood, and it was also really nice to get a few coins as a reward for their job. It is incredible but this little actions help them to be conscious about our environment and how we can help to save it. Now where we live, they do not have this system but, still my kids keep their recycling habits: they separate papers and cartons in one place, plastic, glass and of course organic waste in different containers. It is simple and easy, and does not take any extra time to do.
We have to look for recycling facilities in our community, where exactly to throw plastics, paper, glass, certain hazardous materials (such as batteries, aerosol cans and many more) and also where to throw away house appliances. For example, where I live, supermarkets collect all kind of batteries, pharmacies collect all kind of due medicines and pills, there is also some "green points" where we can throw away furniture, electronics, appliances and more.
How to cut down on garbage?
Recycling is not the only important thing to do, it is also important to learn how to cut down on garbage and the waste we generate. There are many ways to do this, here are some well known examples:
- Use dish towels instead of paper towels.
- Use rechargeable batteries instead of one life batteries.
- When going food shopping try to use a basket or a canvas bag instead of plastic bags (where I live, many supermarkets are already cutting the use of plastic bags, some of them do not give plastic bags anymore and others just charge for them...( this way people bring their own bags to the store).
- Instead of buying extra garbage bags, try to use those you already got at home.
- Choose the ceramic plates instead of the disposable plastic or paper plates (I know is easier to just throw away a dirty plate than to wash it, but doing this is not helping our environment) Also use metal cutlery instead of disposable plastic ones.
- When possible, buy recycled products like paper-bags, toilet paper, craft items, office items, stationary and also decorative jars or bottles. There are even some quilts and clothes made with recycled plastic bottles!!
- Try to buy your fruits and vegetables loose to avoid the use of plastic for wrapping.
- If it is possible, buy products in bulk, this way we reduce packaging.
Choosing what to recycle
There are two things we have to do before getting started: First we have to find out where we can take our recycled items (check your local recycling facilities and recycling containers). And second, we have to organize our space to recycle, this means we have to prepare storage boxes, cans or containers where to put and classified our recycled items. The next step: Recycle!!!
- Paper items: Recycled paper is turned into newspapers, magazines, paper bags, paper packaging, paper towels or even used to make animal bedding. The best part of this is that recycling we save hundreds of trees. When recycling papers is important to remove staples or rubber bands, do not include used napkins or tissues, do not include laminated papers or stickers. Just separate newspapers, envelopes, old papers or letters, cartons, packaging papers and phone books.
- Plastic: It is well known that plastic is not biodegradable but can be recycled to make other products such as carpet fiber, furniture, garbage bags and even clothes and quilts. There is an important fact here: not all kind of plastic can be recycled. Since we do not have all the information in the product ,we have to be aware that for example, plastic bottles are made from a different plastic than their tops so they require separate recycling; plastic used to pack food is not reusable since it has been already iin contact with food; plastic bags are not included in the recycling programs, so what we can do is avoid using the or if we already have them try to reuse them.
- Glass: almost all kind of glass can be recycled to make bottles, jars, decorative objects and much more. Pyrex, mirrors and light bulbs have a different compositions so they must be recycled separately from jars or bottles.
- Textiles: The best thing we can do with old clothes and shoes is to donate them to some charity; you can also reuse some of your old textiles at home , for example cutting an old towel into small pieces, this way you can get extra cleaning towels. You can also use old bedding clothes to cover your furniture or even your wahing machine. Something I heard is that old curtains, bedding clothes and even upholstery are use to make insulation and furniture fillings.
- Electric appliances and electronics: Before throwing them away, ask who may want them or even take them to a charity. Some retailers offer to pick up your old electric appliances when delivering the new one. There are some local "green points" where you can take all kind of unwanted electric appliances; these are then recycled on different parts.
- Hazardous waste: such as batteries, cell phone batteries, car batteries, motor oil, an aerosols. All of these contain heavy metals that could damage our health, not only at the direct contact they also can contaminate the environment when thrown to the toilet or any other direct contact with water.
- Medicines: if you have any due medicine at home, take it to your local pharmacy, they for sure have a container where to throw these. Never throw them directly to the garbage; some medicines can be flushed down the toilet.
There a lots of items that I did not mention here, not because they are not important. I guess that we have to pay attention before throwing away something: ask ourselves if that item could be reuse by us or by others; if not, we have to find the right way to recycle and even if we do not know if it is hazardous or not, we may always have a "green point" where to recycle that item.
Remember, is in our hands to save our planet; is in our hands to teach our kids how to recycle and with this, show how much we care about them and about the place where we live.