It is easy to underestimate the power and importance of recycling, especially when it’s convenient to do so. This might be because we fail to fully link the environment we want with what is required of us to maintain it. It’s easy to forget, for example, that blue skies, a fresh clean breeze, an abundance of gloriously green trees, and crystal clear lakes and rivers are all directly related to recycling.
The world has been good to us. Over recent years, well-publicized research has helped us become more aware of how critical it is to reduce pollution and waste in order to sustain wildlife, clean air and water, and beautiful landscapes and cities. As we continue to produce more waste as a global community than ever before, establishing efficient recycling programs becomes increasingly urgent. Where do these programs begin? With you and I. They begin in our communities.
What has Utah Been up to?
Founded in 2011, the Utah Recycling Alliance, has focused on incentivizing businesses and organizations to reduce waste and recycle materials through competitions and awards programs. A whopping one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year, and only used one time. Think about that. Where do they all end up? If we’re lucky, 1% of them are recycled, which means something needs to change. The Utah Recycling Alliance has been working to promote reusable bags in retail, and I say we hop on board.
Another cool initiative has been to launch the “collection of hard-to-recycle materials,” which is awesome because the Wasatch Front has a lot of unique materials that cannot typically be recycled residentially. By doing this they’ve saved TONS (literally thousands of pounds) of material from going into landfills. These programs are so important and need our support!
Overcoming the Obstacles
Recycling does require some sacrifice, but the reward is so worth it. Don’t we want to give future children a safe and beautiful world to learn and grow in? Of course we do! Oceans have been polluted by plastic and other waste, and it is our job to protect the wildlife we have endangered. At the end of the day, we are each responsible for our own footprint on this earth. Let’s talk about how we can make it a positive one (Remember WALL-E? I don’t think we want to end up rolling around in space anytime soon).
Why is it hard to recycle? Here are some common excuses…I mean “reasons”:
- Convenience of trash cans over recycling bins
- Paying a recycling service fee
- Unsure about what is and is not recyclable
- No space in/around home for recycling bin
- Little faith that it actually ends up recycled
I guarantee that each of us has come across at least one of these before, even if it is as simple as being out somewhere and unable to find a bin for a recyclable item. To help with these obstacles, here is a list of 10 ways to reduce environmental impact through reusing and recycling (keep in mind there are many more). You can find some of these ideas further explored in this list of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle from Conserve Energy Future.
10 Ways to Reduce Evironmental Impact
#1 Avoid Disposables
From plastic water bottles, paper plates and utensils to razors, lighters, and even tampons, do your best to minimize or eliminate this waste, which also saves a ton of money. NO MORE PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES! There are plenty of drinking fountains around to fill a reusable water bottle.
#2 Use Your Own Bags
This can even mean reusing past grocery bags, but the idea is to stop the single time use of all shopping bags by bringing your own. The more reusable the better, which is why cloth bags are ideal.
#3 Donate or Sell Unwanted Items
Instead of throwing away items like old books, furniture, and clothes, do all you can to donate them to charities or sell them.
#4 Save Money
By eliminating disposables and selling your unwanted items, I guarantee you will save enough money to afford a small recycling service fee–plus extra!
If you aren’t sure what can or cannot be recycled in your state or through your waste management service, the answer is a quick Google search away! If you are a Utah resident, click here to learn what to recycle.
#6 Clean and Organized
It is quick and easy to clean/rinse off the items you are recycling, and it can ensure they are in fact reused. Take the extra minute to organize and separate your trash and recycling. This does indeed fall under our responsibility. After that, the lovely recycling truck will take it from there.
#7 Support the Cause
Buy recycled products! If we support recycling in retail, demand will increase and we will see an increase in recycled goods.
#8 Get Creative
See how many uses you can find for a single item or product from the store. I know as kids we definitely rummaged through the recycling to find supplies for forts and science projects. There are plenty of ways to get creative as an adult too!
#9 Switch to Paperless
A big one that is super easy and convenient is to switch to paperless billing. Mail piles up, and we end up recycling and shredding a lot of it. You can save on stamps and go through processes much faster online. If the internet intimidates you, you can even do it with help over the phone! Mobile newspaper apps are a great upgrade as well.
#10 Minimize Paper Towel Use
As often as possible, try to replace paper towels with dish towels and cloths. Many of us have made paper towels a staple in our homes, but they really are not necessary when it comes to cleaning and drying. Using towels saves money, trees, and the environment.
These ideas are a good place to start. Be a leader in your community and start taking recycling seriously! It can be kind of fun to see how much of your waste you can turn into recycling. Plus, I promise you will feel great about yourself as you do your part to preserve the environment.
Living in a neighborhood means there are other people around you that might need items that you don’t need, or vice versa. Reach out to your neighbors as you try to recycle items such as furniture and books. Or maybe you just need a temporary holding place for some things you own that you don’t want to throw out. Use Neighbor to find a place to store them. There are endless ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Let’s get started!