As a society, we have become more aware of the impact our waste is having on the environment. Our landfills are becoming more full, and, recycling instead of throwing away has become an important way that our society is working towards producing less trash.
While stores and business are attempting to encourage employees and customers to recycle, it’s most important for us to recycle in the place we spend the most time: our homes.
Not only does recycling keep waste out of landfills, it saves us from using the precious energy, water, and other resources from our planet. According to the Green Team:
- Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees
- Thirteen percent of waste in landfills is made up of paper and paperboard
- Using recycled aluminum decreases air pollution and water usage by 95% over using raw materials
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Recycling is an obvious choice to help save our environment and make an impact on our planet. Almost every city has recycling facilities available, and some even have recycling available as a part of the trash service, making it easier than ever to recycle from your own home.
Recycling isn’t terribly difficult, but one thing is for certain: recyclables must be separated from your regular trash, and it is considerably less yucky if you separate as you’re tossing your trash away rather than trying to go back through it.
What’s the best way to sort your trash from recycling? Well, it depends! There are several factors to consider when deciding the best way to sort recycling from normal waste.
How does your trash service or community recycling center require recyclables to be sorted?
Depending on how your recycling is picked up or dropped off, you may have certain sorting requirements that can help narrow down your bin choices. Many services today are using single-stream recycling, which is very convenient for the consumer as all recyclables are dumped into the same container and sorted out later.
However, other services may require that items be separated based on the materials they are made of. Glass, plastics, paper, and metal may all need to have separate bins. In this case, it may be wise to have several containers in your home so that you can sort each item. Bins such as these may be a great choice if you have room in your kitchen. Each bin can be labeled, making sorting and recycling day a complete breeze.
You could also consider using one bin and then sorting it out when it is recycling day. This could be a great choice for you if you don’t have very much recycling, saving you the hassle of having multiple bins around to keep track of.
If you have single-stream recycling service, there are a few other things to consider.
How much room do you have?
Some trash cans have multiple compartments within them, with the idea being that one compartment is for trash and one is for recycling. Some even have more than one compartment, for additional sorting.
Sometimes these trash cans can take up a lot of room, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing so long as you have the space! This trash can offers two large compartments and standard kitchen-sized liners can fit into each bin. At 23.1” x 12.3” x 25.6” it does take up quite a bit of space, which is no problem if you have the room for it.
If you have a tighter space, you could consider getting a smaller trash can with multiple bins. Though they won’t hold quite as much before needing to be emptied, if you are cramped for space this could be a great option for you.
What are you throwing away?
The size of what you tend to throw away matters as well. If you throw away a lot of large recycling items it may be worth it to consider getting a larger recycling bin to keep your home looking tidy and to keep you from having to empty it as frequently. If you buy a lot of items on Amazon you may find yourself with lots of empty boxes to recycle. A large stand-alone recycling bin may be just the ticket to making sure all of your items fit into the bin.
If however you have fewer people who live in your home, or spend less time online shopping than average, a smaller stand-alone bin might be an easy way to begin recycling without too much additional work.
Where are your recyclables headed?
Do you put out at the curb with your trash, or do you have to drop it off at the recycling center? If you do put it out with the trash, the dual-compartment bin may make the most sense, since you can take them both out in one trip.
However, if you take your recycling to a recycling center it may make sense to keep your recycling separate from your trash. Maybe it would be more convenient to store your recycling bin next to the garage door so you can grab it on your way out.
Lid, or no lid?
The nice thing about recycling is that it usually doesn’t smell the way that trash does. Paper and cardboard are clean when they are thrown away. Plastic, aluminum, and glass ought to be rinsed before they are tossed into the recycling, so your recycling bin should stay relatively clean. With that in mind, a lid isn’t absolutely necessary. How should you decide if you need a lid or not?
If you are transporting your recycling, a lid is a must. It is incredibly frustrating to carry your recycling into a recycling center on a busy day, only to have the contents blown about as you make your way from your car.
You also may want to consider a lid if you have pets. Though we can’t smell the recycling, our pets’ sensitive noses may make the recycling extra enticing for them to explore, leaving a big mess for us to clean up!
A lid is also a great thing to consider if you have young children. Kids will play with anything, and things in the recycling could look like fun to get into. With items such as glass and aluminum cans in it, recycling could be fairly dangerous for children. A lid can deter them from getting into it and keep them from accidentally getting injured.
If you don’t have pets, and don’t have young children, lidless may just be the way to go. You don’t have to open the lid to throw something into the recycling bin, simply toss it in and carry on your way. Lidless cans can also make for one fewer step when it comes time to empty your bin.
Recycling is definitely an important part of being in our society. Recycled materials are used in so many every-day things, and more uses are being found every day for recycled items. By taking the small step of recycling in your home you can help reduce waste in landfills, save our planet’s resources, and make the world a better place in a small but lasting way.