Transform your trash...It's easier than you think. And there's more you can do!
I've learned more than I thought I knew about recycling.
It's not just about separating your household trash into
'trash' and 'recycling'.
Think: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Hope you'll read and learn, as I did.
You may think you're doing great recycling trash from your home. Think again!
While 95% of Americans say that recycling is a good thing, only 74% say that it should be one of the country’s top priorities. However, just 34% of Americans actually recycle.
And a new study recently published in the Huffington Post (March 2023) shows that even people who are superconscious about recycling kitchen trash are missing out on really doing a good job, when it comes to day-to-day choices of what to recycle. And that mistake helps contribute 30,000 tons of waste every single year filling up our landfills.
For this to change, individuals need to take responsibility. And it can start with you and me. Our generation can show adults what they should be doing and what they can be doing! Kid Power works!
So...what are you missing? You may be surprised, as I was by what many of us are not doing. Even those of us with recycling bins in our kitchen are missing a lot of recyclable items.
Drum roll, please...bathroom trash!
Recognize any of these items? I'm sure you have bathroom trash similar to those in the photo.
I'm also pretty sure you - like me - didn't even think to separate those items and add to your household's recycling bin.
We just dump it into the trash bin, Right?
Yet, each of these items has a recycling mark on them (except the cardboard TP tube). And while there isn't room in most bathrooms for a recycling bin, it's easy and quick to sort through bathroom trash and take out the ones that can be recycled, throwing them into the recycling bin you already have.
You've seen recycling symbols on all sorts of items and signage for years. Do you know the history of the symbol, itself?
The symbol originated back in the 70s, ahead of the first-ever Earth Day, where students across the USA were challenged to design something which raised awareness of environmental issues. The winner, Gary Anderson, designed what’s now known as this symbol.
Ok. But do you know all the various recycling symbols and what they each mean?
If your answer is 'no', you're not alone. Most of us don't realize there are 7 different recycling symbols for plastic items with four different categories for other materials.
And that makes recycling even more confusing for many of us...me included.
So here's a quick primer:
First two are general recycling
Third symbol indicates trash that cannot be recycled
Last symbol is often used for specific items, usually labeled as cans, glass, paper or plastic only
First indicates for reuse, while theourth indicates general recycling
The second specifies it's for trash only, not recycling
The third symbol with a '1' designates recycling for specific types of plastic.
Now it gets a bit more complicated. There are different recycling symbols for 7 different type of plastics that can be recycled.
I like this chart from the Old Farmers Almanac, because it shows which recycled plastics are used to create or manufacture new items for our reuse. Click on the image below to download as a pdf file.
Do you know what the 3 R's are?
A plastic bottle takes about 1,000 years to decompose (or 50 years if left outside). Consumers play an important role in reducing pollution. Following the "Three Rs" (reduce, reuse and recycle) is how you can help fight to save our planet from the negative impact of climate change.
Making choices as we go through each day can help reduce the emissions and drain on our resources when we
use water, electricity or gas and turn off appliances or turn off the tap when we are not using them;
choose local products at the grocery store (near where we live means less emissions by vehicles transporting goods shorter distances); and
avoid buying products that are ‘overpackaged’ (wrapped or boxed in far more plastic, styrofoam or other materials than is necessary).
Finding a new use for something from something old is what reuse means. This is when we reuse things for a "second life", such as turning a cup or storage container into a pen/pencil holder or using pieces of old clothes, towels, old curtains, old tablecloths as dusters or cleaning cloths and rags.
Simply sorting trash and recyclable items into the appropriate containers rather than just ‘trashing’ everything helps reduce the amount of gases and toxic waste that fill up landfills. Recycling can also lead to new products being manufactured out of old items. This reduces the amount of emissions into the atmosphere from manufacturing plants making new things out of raw materials, rather than recycled items.