12 SIMPLE TIPS TO RECYCLE SMARTER
Updated: Jan 10
Regardless of where you live, you should be able to recycle . . . and likely better than you have been! If you are fortunate enough to have curbside pickup, there is no excuse at all! If not, you are likely (hopefully!) making somewhat regular trips to the recycling depot anyways, so why not make it count?
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12 SIMPLE WAYS TO UP YOUR RECYCLING GAME
1. Create less recycling
Yes, recycling is better than tossing everything in the garbage, but manufacturing these items creates pollution, wastes trees and resources and destroys forests, so reducing how much recycling we generate makes a HUGE difference. Want some simple strategies? Check out these 9 simple BYO strategies to waste less.
2. Educate yourself
Educate yourself on what can and can’t be recycled in your municipality, including what can be collected curb-side and what needs to go to the depot. Almost all municipalities have a website very specifically outlining what can be recycled and how. Many also have an app where you can quickly search individual items.
3. Keep plastic bags and other soft pliable plastics out of the garbage
This includes any soft plastic, including but not limited to overwrap and grocery, produce and bread bags. Just make sure they are clean and dry. Depending on where you live you might need to take them to the recycling depot yourself. For example, in Ontario they can go in the blue bin for curb-side pickup, however in most of British Columbia they need to be taken to the depot.
If you live in British Columbia, there is a new...ish pilot project for “other flexible plastic packaging” which includes crinkly (not stretchy/pliable which have always been recycled) soft plastics such as stand up zipper lock bags, baby food pouches, chip bags, candy wrappers, cereal/pasta bags, etc. As far as I can tell this is only possible in British Columbia, and not the rest of Canada or beyond (yet!). Find out more here.
4. Properly rinse out your recyclables
You’ve made it this far, now make sure the item you are placing in the recycling bin is clean enough to actually be recycled. Otherwise, not only will it end up in the landfill, it could contaminate other items that will no longer be able to be recycled. The higher the contamination level, the more it costs the city, and ultimately taxpayers.
5. Flatten your cardboard
In many municipalities unflattened cardboard cannot be properly recycled. While you’re at it, remove any excess tape (if you can) to make it easier for the workers at the recycling depot.
6. Keep it organized
If you throw everything into an unorganized pile in the corner of your garage you will never want to sort it to take it to the depot, and recycling will become more of a drag than it needs to be. Instead, keep it organized from the start. Use multiple bins/bags. Place a smaller bin in your kitchen so you don’t need to take each item out individually, but rather every 1-2 days. Make sure everyone in your household is on board. Don’t let it pile up to an unmanageable amount.
7. Make it routine
Plan a trip to the recycling depot once a month, or every few months, depending on how fast it piles up. Make it an outing with your kids so they see and understand the process and grow up conscious of the environment. Let them keep the money from the bottles or use it to treat them afterwards.
8. Don’t forget about recycling when you are out
If you don’t see anywhere to recycle your item, bring it home instead of tossing it. This includes anything from coffee cups to plastic bottles and take out containers. Better yet, bring your own cup/container so you don't need to worry about this.
9. Recycle your coffee pods
We all know they are terrible, but millions still use them. Lessen your guilt by recycling them! Some companies will pay to have them shipped back to them, or you can simple do it yourself by composting the grounds and rinsing then recycling the plastic. Better yet, ditch the coffee pods! Freshly ground coffee tastes a heck of a lot better.
10. Don't toss your old electronics
If it still works, consider selling it or taking it to a thrift store. Even if it doesn't work, sometimes posting an item for free online will attract someone who can either fix it or use it for parts. Otherwise, most depots accept TVs, phones, audiovisual equipment (home, personal and vehicle), computers, printers, IT equipment, video game systems, battery powered toys and photocopiers, so don't toss them!
11. Recycle your old appliances
Smaller appliances can be dropped off at most recycling depots, so don't toss them! For larger appliances, often when you get a new one they will take your old one to recycle. Otherwise, check with your municipality to see if they offer free pick up for larger items. For example, after a quick google search I discovered that my municipality offers free pick up of larger items (such as refrigerators, washing machines, furniture, mattresses and scrap metal) 4 times per year. Otherwise, a number of landfills offer free (or for a small fee) drop off of large appliances for recycling. However, if the appliance still works consider selling or donating it instead of recycling it.
12. Be mindful!
Every time you go to toss something, think first if it can possibly be recycled. If you are unsure, look it up. You will be surprised how much can be recycled and how little we actually need to dispose of in the garbage.
Think of all the extra space in the landfill if we all up our recycling game!
Follow @holisticlifestylerefresh on Instagram for more recycling tips!
9 SIMPLE BYO OPTIONS TO WASTE LESS