Recycling is one of the many ways you can practice sustainability. You’ve probably heard the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” at least once in your life. In a perfect world, people would buy less, use certain items more than once and dispose of them properly. Unfortunately, in the real world, the average American gets rid of 7.5 pounds of waste per day.
To combat this issue, you and your neighbors can perfect the art of recycling. Your area might already have a program. However, you can propel this movement forward with the tips below.
Learn the Basics
If you already recycle, that’s great – but are you doing it correctly? Many people believe they can throw plastic, glass and cardboard into a bin and let the city figure out the rest. Most of the time, however, that’s not the case. Before you start, learn the basic rules of recycling, such as:
- Research local guidelines: Take the time to look up what items your town accepts, as procedures vary across the country. Some areas will recycle bottle caps, for example, while others won’t.
- Look at the numbers: Take note of the numbers printed on or stamped into the bottoms of plastics, as these indicate which items you can recycle.
- Clean the containers: If you’re getting rid of a sauce jar or takeout box, wash out residue before you put it in your recycling bin.
- Recycle bags separately: Loose plastic bags can cause issues in recycling production lines. Reuse them or search for places that will take them off your hands.
Post a Few Reminders
If you want your community to reduce its carbon footprint, put up some reminders in front of your house. Both litter and animal waste are environmental contaminants that people encounter every day. Post signs on your porch or in your front yard that tell your neighbors to pick up after themselves and pets. These announcements don’t have to be loud or large – two small signs with the proper symbols will do the job.
Write a Call-to-Action
An excellent way to draw attention to your community’s recycling initiative is to write a call-to-action. Contact your town’s local paper or magazine to see if you can compose a short column on the benefits of recycling. Be sure to include how residents can get involved.
Add facts, debunk myths and share information about the program. Doing so will educate non-recyclers and those unfamiliar with environmental issues. According to one survey, 62% of Americans say they don’t know enough about recycling.
Use this opportunity to educated the masses. You may also want to create a community page on social media that’s easily accessible.
Create a Task Force
By enlisting a group of dedicated individuals, you can tackle almost any problem. The same goes for recycling! Get together with neighbors and draft a list of activities that will help your community become environmentally friendly. Put on clothing drives, teach recycling classes, pick up litter and more. If your local schools haven’t implemented a recycling program yet, assist them in coming up with one.
You can also create community groups for specific concerns. Gather your co-workers and ask them, if possible, to bike or walk to work instead of driving. This practice has numerous health and environmental benefits. For example, cycling 10 km to work each way would save 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Plus, cycling allows you to interact socially with others while feeling good about giving back to the planet.
Make Recycling Accessible
If something is out of sight, it’s usually out of mind. Get ahold of a few recycling bins and place them in parks and near storefronts. Better yet, talk with local business owners to implement recycling into their existing waste management system. When people go to throw an item away and only see a trash can, they’ll think that’s their only option. If you place recycling cans in populated areas, people will use them more often.
Talk With City Officials
You might need assistance to make city-wide changes. Your local elected officials are there to improve the community in any way they can. Tell them how you want to help better recycling in your area. They’ll have access to countless resources and assets that’ll be of use. It’s also essential to stay up-to-date on laws and legislation relevant to your initiatives. Show support for officials that make sustainability their top priority.
Plant a Community Garden
Many towns have a community garden in place. They can be fantastic places that spark friendships, creativity and sustainable practices. You can even use recycled materials to make one.
Community gardens promote sustainable food production, which is terrific for the earth. If your area doesn’t have one, follow the five steps below.
- Gather support and find interested residents.
- Host a meeting and discuss what’ll be grown.
- Find a central location and get permission to use it.
- Build a community garden using recycled materials.
- Pick Mother Nature’s offerings and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Inform New Residents
Recycling procedures vary depending on where you live. A great way to engage new neighbors is to hand out flyers or packets with details about your program. You’ll have the chance to welcome them to the community and give them valuable information at the same time. You can also provide them with them a head start on recycling correctly from day one.
What Are You Waiting For? Jumpstart Recycling in Your Community
We should all strive to be a little bit more environmentally responsible. If you want to create an improved and impactful recycling program in your town, it’s easy to get started. Do your research on recycling and its impact before you enlist the help of neighbors and community officials. Develop initiatives that encourage participation, including task forces and community gardens.
Most importantly, it’s crucial to raise awareness. It’s often difficult to find information on local recycling programs. Be sure everyone in town is informed, including new arrivals, and submit a piece to your town’s newspaper.