Tips for Recycling at Home

If there is one important place for recycling to take place, then it must be the home.

Recycling at home is important.

Substantial amount of things are being purchased (eg. groceries and household consumables) as well as being discarded on a daily basis (eg. junk mail, waste from dinner preparations, etc).

If no efforts are made to recycle at home, then the waste from our homes will only build up to unimaginable amounts over time, and contribute in a big way to the pollution from landfills and incineration.

Start with yourself

The easiest way to start recycling at home is to start with yourself.

Look at the things that you own and use at home, that you have control over.

And as you become comfortable recycling your own things, you can expand your sphere of influence to those around you, such as your immediate family, and even your neigbours.

That was what I did, and it worked!

Now my parents and brother make an effort to recycle their waste, instead of sending them straight to the garbage. You can do that too. All you need is a bit of persistence in explaining the importance of recycling, and to lead by example.

Identifying items for recycling at home

The basic knowledge you need for recycling at home is to know what can be recycled.

Here is a range of items found in the home that can be recycled.

  • old newspaper, magazine and books
  • junk mail
  • waste paper
  • paper packaging (that is not soiled by food), including cardboard boxes
  • unwanted plastic bottles or containers
  • unwanted glass bottles and containers
  • unwanted clothes
  • empty cans
  • unwanted cell phones
  • old computers and laptops

But these are not all. Check out more details on what can be recycled.

Collecting items for recycling at home

After you have identified the items for recycling at home, you will need to sort them out by their types.

Pack all the unwanted paper materials together. The unwanted glass containers can be set aside in a reusable plastic bag. Make sure that the plastic bag is strong enough to hold all the glass containers.

Because not all types of plastic can be readily recycled, the plastic containers you have collected would need to be sorted by their types.

For items such as plastic and glass containers as well as cans that were previously used to hold food or beverages, they should be given a rinse first, to remove odor and any food particles (otherwise the food particles may attract ants and cockroaches during storage).

Subsequently, you will need to send your recyclables for recycling.

Depending on the arrangements in your community, this could mean taking your recyclables out to the curbside (ie. curbside recycling) as you would for your garbage, or sending them to a collection centre (e.g. drop off centre).

Check out the details with your local waste disposal or recycling collection agencies.

Beyond recycling at home: Other green practices

Beyond recycling at home, there are also other important green practices at home that would contribute substantially to the environment.

Before you even think about recycling, what should come to mind first are reducing waste and reusing whatever you can at home. This is because reducing consumption / waste and reusing contribute the most to a cleaner environment and a healthier earth.

If there are purchases that you have to make for the household, then think pre-cycling.

Pre-cycling is about looking out for and buying products that can be recycled. If something cannot be recycled, then don't buy it, because eventually, the item can only be sent to the landfills or incinerator.

Buy products that use recycled materials in the product itself or in the packaging, to complete the recycling loop. Only when there is a demand for recycled products would there be a demand for recyclables.

And it is only when consumers demand more eco-friendly products that manufacturers will be driven to meet that demand by producing high-quality recycled products. Without a market for recycled goods, all recycling efforts would be more or less futile. In turn, the recycling industry would not be sustainable.

Other than recycling, you can also adopt other green practices, such as reducing the amount of harmful chemicals you release into the environment, by switching to natural cleaners instead that are biodegradable and do not harm the water supply or the environment.

Last but not least, you can also adopt green shopping practices. Use environmentally sound products, because they do minimal harm to the environment either when manufactured, when used, or when disposed of.

Extending the green practices to your family

It is important to recycle as an individual. But it is not enough. Such green practices need to be adopted by more.

So do encourage everyone in your family to play a part in recycling at home.

Help your family members understand the importance of recycling. And lead by example. Show them that recycling can be easy and without much hassle, just some thoughtfulness.

Encourage them to look out for the items at home that can be reused or recycled, instead of throwing them away. Offer to send the recyclables they have collected for recycling, when you send yours.

After a while, recycling will become a habit, instead of a chore. And we can look forward to having a healthier earth!

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