Recycling in a Small Space
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I knew we were going to recycle regardless of our living situation. At the time we lived in an apartment with little space for setting up a bin for each recyclable material. For some reason, I thought we needed a bin for plastic, glass, and metal. I later learned that this wasn't necessary.
The first year we ventured into recycling was hard because we had a hard time finding a recycling center, and I was stuck on the idea of having all. the. bins. I will confess that it is easier to recycle if you live in a house especially if your city sends out recycling trucks. This is how we recycled for about seven years. But, I've now learned that recycling in a small space like an apartment without recycling truck access can be more fun, and it allows for the opportunity to get your children more actively involved in the recycling process. Now, we are back to being apartment dwellers, and this time around we didn't become defeated by our space or lack of knowledge.
How to Successfully Recycle in a Small Space
1. You don't need ALL. THE. BINS. but you will need some type of storage container for collecting your recyclables. We use a 40 gallon bin to put all our recyclable materials in until recycle day. When you do not have somewhere to store the items you are taking to the recycling center, they can easily turn into trash. Make sure to purchase a container that will fit your space.
2. Differentiate between trash and recyclable material. My family would try to recycle EVERYTHING, but everything is not recyclable. For instance, Styrofoam isn't recyclable or unclean glass or pizza boxes. Toilet paper rolls are recyclable, but if you are like me and are more tempted to discard them in the trash, you could consider Scott® Tube-Free Bath Tissue which eliminates the roll altogether, You can find lists of what is recyclable in a quick Google search. Since recycling is a family commitment, it is important for everyone including the children to know the difference between recyclables and trash.
3. This one has to do with number 2. Make sure to wash ALL the containers you are recycling. Dirty bottles whether plastic or glass will be thrown in the trash at the recycling facility because they are contaminated. It is imperative to wash the materials especially if they are dirty before placing them in your recycling bin. We wash all plastic and glass bottles before placing them in our bin, and we rinse out all metal cans including those that contained canned vegetables or soda. If you have pizza boxes with melted cheese stuck to them simply throw them away. They are not recyclable when they are contaminated by food. Also anything contaminated by bodily fluid isn't recyclable. Recycling isn't just about placing the plastic in the right bin, but it really does matter if that plastic is clean or not.
4. Now you have a bin filled with all clean recycling material, but no one is coming to pick up your recyclables. You will need to search online for nearby facilities. In our town there are at least two recycling plants. We visit the same one each time, and it is open Monday through Thursday and Saturday. Once you find a plant and learn its schedule. You will need to select a consistent date to recycle. We recycle once a week. The girls and I take our recyclables on Mondays for the most part, and if we miss Monday our makeup day is Wednesday. By having a specific day to recycle each week there will be less of a chance of your small space becoming over ran by plastic containers and cereal boxes. Clutter is one surefire way to dim your desire to recycle.
5. Recycling in our home is a team effort. Everyone is involved. On recycling days, my daughters are help put each material in their respective receptacle at the recycling center. Our center has big green containers labeled: plastic, cardboard, mixed paper, glass, colored glass, metal, and aluminum. The girls are now 9 and 11 so they have a good handle on what goes where, but if you are just getting started with recycling with little children consider playing a few games at home teaching them the difference between a few materials at a time for instance comparing glass to plastic, and then teaching the difference between cardboard and mixed paper. Once they know the differences, they will be able to translate this to the big bins at the recycling center. Recycling with children can be fun, but it is important that the materials make it to the correct home at the center.
6. Keep at it. We were informed last week by our county mayor that the landfill in our area will be full in less than a decade. Recycling helps reduce the amount of trash that makes it to the landfills. Did you know that over 17 billion toilet paper tubes are used each year? Can you say full landfills. Research states that is enough tubes to fill the Empire State Building twice. Tossing the tube can definitely eliminate a portion of our waste along with recycling. If you consciously keep at it, recycling in a small space isn't bad. Make sure you have a plan so that your recyclables will not turn back into trash.
How are you giving back to the environment? Do you recycle? Are you tube free?