Humankind generates around 2 billion tons of waste material every year. It gets worse; the World Bank estimates a 70% increase in waste production by 2050. With these figures, it’s not difficult to see that the Earth is presently in ecological turmoil as we continue to excessively harvest natural resources, poison the atmosphere, and dump the garbage.
But hope is still out there. The widespread awareness of this global situation has given rise to eco-friendly initiatives that help preserve the environment. Recycling items, rather than discarding them outward, is one of these initiatives. The new recycling statistics show that the US recycles a third of the municipal solid waste (MSWs) it has generated. This is quite an impressive figure considering that the US produces a considerably higher amount of waste than most developed countries.
It is within our power to halt or even reverse this trend. By instilling a lifestyle and habit of recycling and putting waste disposal as the last option, we can considerably reduce the volume of garbage discarded in the environment.
It’s really easy to have a habit of recycling, but it does take an active mindset. Let’s see how you, your household, and your colleagues can improve your recycling habits.
Place your recycle bins in prominent places
People like everything they desire within a convenient reach. For instance, if most of your waste at home is generated in the kitchen, have a recycling bin at the kitchen door. If you work in an open-space office, put recycling bins at the entrance, exit, and middle of the office. People will be obliged to use the bins since they are easily visible, accessible, and within reach.
Clean and stack reusable items
Don’t throw away your plastic utensils or Styrofoam cups after use. Believe it or not, these items are surprisingly durable and can be reused a number of times. After using, wash them thoroughly, dry them, and put them in an easily accessible drawer or cabinet. Put a “Use Me First” label on that storage space, and encourage your family or colleagues to check that place first if they need to use utensils and beverage vessels.
Pack your own lunch, snacks, and drinks
Among the biggest generators of waste materials are one-use, disposable food containers that come along when you order take-out food. Reduce this by packing your own food in reusable lunch kits. There are plenty of lunch kits available for sale. Some have cool features such as separate compartments, tubs for soups, or even a reheating feature.
For drinks, you can use a ceramic mug with a cover, a reusable canteen (very popular among hikers and mountaineers), or a portable metal thermos. If you order takeout food or drinks, ask the cashier to put your orders in your reusable containers.
Watch documentaries about the environment and environmental preservation
Documentaries about nature help viewers appreciate just how beautiful and important nature is. Documentaries that show how humans are destroying nature will help them realize how human activities affect the environment. Documentaries about renewable energy, conservation initiatives, and environmental research encourage viewers that positive actions can actually help make the world a sustainable place to live in. BBC Earth episodes, Chasing Coral, Chasing Ice, 180 Degrees South, and An Inconvenient Truth are great documentaries to watch.
Install a recycling app
Use digital technology to help you, your family members, and your colleagues to make recycling effective. By using recycling apps, you can identify recyclable items in your household and how to recycle them. These apps also tell you the recycling initiatives in your area, recycling centers in your location, and other useful information to help you make the most of your recycling efforts. Examples of such apps include iRecycle, Recycling Nation, and Recycle Coach.
Set up a garage sale
Rather than throwing away the items you don’t need to use, why don’t you organize a garage sale? People may have been looking for certain items for a long time, and those items might just be sitting unused in your home. Old pillowcases, beds, books, furniture, appliances, toys, clothes---almost all used items in your home can be sold. Think about it: not only will you develop a smart recycling habit and reduce landfill space, but you can also help people and generate income in doing so. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Set up a “use me” shelf in your office
After using stuff in your workplace, put them on a “use me” shelf. A “use me” shelf is a depository of recyclable items, folders, file boxes, organizers, or disc cases that you don’t need. If a colleague needs something, he or she can just check out the “use me” shelf for the items he or she needs. For instance, if a colleague’s child wants to build a dollhouse made of cardboard, your colleague can simply take some cardboard boxes or file organizers home for her daughter’s project.
Many things that we use every day can be reused and recycled. We only need to develop a healthy and smart recycling habit in order to make the world a better and cleaner place for everyone.