Remodeling Tips and Reviews

Recycling for a Cleaner Planet

Let’s face it, we live in a disposable society. It has been estimated that the average American throws away approximately 4.8 pounds of trash per day. That’s a lot of garbage! Luckily, a good deal of that garbage we produce is actually recyclable and recy
compostable. So, are we doing our part? Are we recycling and composting what we can of our 4.8 pounds of garbage each day? We’ve all heard it before, the importance of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But, how much are we really doing as individuals to keep global warming at bay?

What do we mean when we talk about green recycling?
When we talk about recycling, we are referring to the process of taking a product or material at the end of its useful lifeĀ and turning it into a usable raw material that will then be used to make another product. Some important reasons to recycle include: saving energy, saving landfill space, saving natural resources, and decreasing pollution. It just makes sense to turn materials that can be recycled into something else, rather than putting those same materials in a landfill or burning them.

How do we go about green recycling at home?
Curbside recycling now serves approximately half of the U.S. population, providing the
most convenient means for many households to recycle a variety of materials. If you have curbside recycling pickup, you might be surprised at the variety of things they take. While all curbside programs differ, the most commonly included materials are aluminum cans, glass bottles, and paper. To find out specifically what is accepted in curbside recycling pickup in your area, look on the Web or in the government section of your telephone directory for your City or County public works refuse department. Listed below are some commonly accepted recyclable items. Your curbside pickup might accept fewer items, or more items than these:

Metal:
Steel and aluminum cans (including beverage cans, food cans, aerosol cans), aluminum food packaging (including pie plates, dinner trays, foil).

Paper:
Newspaper, magazines, catalogs, phone books, bulk mail, office paper, computer paper, envelopes, gift wrapping paper, cardboard, food boxes, shoeboxes, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, paper egg cartons.

Glass:
Clear, green, or brown bottles, and jars.

Plastic:
Plastic that bears the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) plastic resin codes

How do we set up our homes for green recycling?
It’s important to make recycling at home as easy as possible. After all, you are more likely to recycle if you set up your home in such a way that you simplify recycling rather than complicating it. For example, having only one container for recyclable trash in the kitchen or garage is not likely to foster participation in household recycling, because few people would want to walk to the other end of house to dispose of every piece of paper. Small modifications, such as placing recycling waste containers or baskets in strategic locations throughout your house along with ordinary waste baskets will make recycling less of a hassle in the long run. Most people agree that it is much easier to toss recyclables in a separate container initially than it is to rummage through the trash to separate everything out later. You can even use the same type of containers for recyclable trash as you would for any other trash throughout the house.

 

What about the other stuff that isn’t typically picked up by curbside recycling?

Demolition Debris:
To dispose of construction and demolition materials, contact the Construction and Demolition Debris Recyclers Database. This database lists places where you can bring demolition debris for recycling.

Electronics/ E-Waste:
An issue that has come up more recently is how our old electronics should be disposed of since they often contain dangerous elements such as lead and mercury that can contaminate our soil and water supply. For electronic disposal, contact the Electronic Product Management Directory. This is a database of facilities that collect specific types of electronic equipment and equipment related parts for reuse or recycling. Please note that televisions and cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors should not be placed in the household trash.

Hazardous Waste Materials:
Household hazardous waste that must be recycled or disposed of at household hazardous waste collection facilities or other authorized collection facilities include: acids, antifreeze, household batteries, car batteries, brake and transmission fluid, household cleaners, pool chemicals, gasoline and other flammables, mercury thermometers, motor oil, oil-based or latex paint, paint thinners, pesticides and herbicides, barbecue style propane tanks, and solvents. Also, it’s important to note that fluorescent lamps and tubes can be taken to household hazardous waste collection facilities. In addition, home generated medical waste, such as pharmaceuticals and syringes might be accepted at your household hazardous waste facility, but check first. Visit the Waste Prevention Information Exchange to learn what other options there are for home generated medical waste. Other Hazardous Waste disposal and recycling locations can be found at Earth 911. If this option does not work, ask your local contact for Waste Prevention and Recycling.

 

What’s the greenest way to handle food waste?
When we count only the uneaten portions of meals and waste from food preparation, such as trimming produce, it is estimated that Americans throw away 163 pounds of food per person per year. Therefore, managing organic food material at your home can not only decrease the amount of material you send to the landfill; it can also help turn your organic waste into a landscape asset. Composting will reduce the amount of food waste in your garbage can, while creating nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden.

Composting:
To learn how to compost, see the CIWMB home composting page or contact your city or county government. If you prefer to compost in a bin instead of an open pile, or if compost bins are required in you community, see the CIWMB compost bin resource list.

Vermicomposting: Get a worm bin and some worms and practice vermicomposting. Download The Worm Guide at the CIWMB website to read all you need to know about starting a small worm bin.

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Buy Recycled Products to complete the recycling cycle.
In addition to sending your waste to be recycled, you should also look for recycled content in the products that you buy. In theory, when you buy products made up of recycled material, you are completing the recycling cycle.