The importance of recycling—the process of turning a product’s useful parts into a new product to ease the consumption of resources, energy and landfill space—certainly can’t be understated. Recycling a single plastic bottle not only saves hundreds of years in the landfill but also reduces the amount of oil used to produce a new bottle and the emissions created in producing it.
Of course, it all starts at home. No one said recycling would be easy, especially if you’re tight for space. But with a little effort and ingenuity, there’s no reason it needs to be difficult—even if you live in an apartment or have limited storage space for recycling. The key is managing recyclables inside your home prior to transferring them outside—whether it’s to another storage place or to the curb.
What to do if you’re really stuck for space, or if your apartment building’s recycling collection area is inconveniently situated? Create an indoor way station, preferably in a corner of your kitchen: An area that can separate the main, distinct items (say into the cardboard and glass categories) right away. One key to this strategy could be the introduction of Rubbermaid’s primary recycling container, the 14-Gallon Stacking Recycle Bin, which easily stores plastic, aluminum, glass and paper. It has easy-grip handles, stacks to minimize space and has a flap to keep clutter out of sight. But if you have no room for a 14-gallon container (or if your municipality requires you to separate recyclables into at least two categories before they reach the curb), here’s one space solution: Large Open Wastebaskets with LinerLock™, which come in two domestic-friendly sizes (21- and 32-qt). With LinerLock™ a bag is latched to the rim to prevent it from slipping into the can. Simply lift the clear plastic bag out and transport them to the curb or the next storage spot. Get two wastebaskets, and label one for paper and the other for bottles and cans.
• Recycling does require a degree of attention to detail on the part of the recycler. And cleanliness does count—rinsing your cans makes them easier to process, which keeps costs down (and also effectively neutralizes the smell factor in your kitchen).
• DO recycle: steel cans, aluminum cans, newspapers, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, plastic beverage bottles, milk jugs, glass bottles and jars, cereal boxes, other clean and dry cardboard boxes. Probably NOT recyclable: plastic grocery bags, Styrofoam, light bulbs, food-soiled paper, wax paper, ceramics. (Check with your municipality or county for specifics, resources and guidelines.)
• Hazards: Household hazardous wastes like paint cans, motor oil, anti-freeze, car batteries and pesticides typically need to be disposed of separately. (Check online or with your municipality for resources and guidelines.)
• Hardware: Items such as computers, cell phones and even eyewear can be recycled or repurposed. Look online for local organizations that accept them (a host of retail stores across the country, for example, collect cell phones for donation or recycling).
• Food scraps: certain food waste can go into a composter (which could be located under the kitchen sink) and the results can be used later to help fertilize your garden soil. With other food products, choose a covered Rubbermaid Step-on Waste Can with its innovative easy-to-use step-on mechanism. (For composting dos and don’ts as well as a better understanding of composting in general, see compostingcouncil.org.)
America Recycles Day (ARD)
November 15, 2009, is America Recycles Day. Now in its 11th year, ARD is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products. Volunteer ARD coordinators will be positioned throughout the country working to organize recycling awareness events in schools and communities, and in conjunction with their local municipalities.
For more information, please see: nrc-recycle.org/americarecycles.aspx