While we and many recycling operations across the country have halted service, some continue to operate so be sure to check out community resources for opportunities to recycle. If you live in an area where nothing is available, consider saving and storing your recyclables until service resumes. You may have no choice but to trash items that you know have a higher and better use. While this is upsetting and frustrating, THERE IS MORE YOU CAN DO!
Focus your efforts on reduction and reuse, the most important 'Rs' of the bunch.
- REDUCE: The survivalist mentality may have you purchasing more dry goods in bulk quantities -- a green practice that helps cut down on excess packaging. Those bags of rice, beans, and other pantry essentials are a better alternative to the 16-oz cans that tempt us with convenience. If you're not one to cook from scratch, choose extra large cans when possible. Same goes for eggs -- opt for the 18-pack, consider buying by the crate, or look into raising your own birds!
- REUSE: Less shopping means more ingenuity, right? If you miss your standing desk at the office, go old school and stack some books to prop up your monitor. If your little ones have a case of cabin fever, pull out some old boxes or linens and see what kind of fort, cape, or craft they come up with.
While we persevere through this difficult time, consider how today's temporary conditions affect your waste generation. Are you grabbing less take-out? Making your coffee at home? Reading your PDFs and agendas online? Think about what habits you're building now that you can carry forward.
Explore how recycling is an important piece of the supply chain. Recycled materials are a valuable commodity, supplying the raw materials manufacturers need to make new products like toilet paper and tissue boxes. As online purchasing increases, the cardboard and other products normally recycled will be needed even more to manufacture new boxes for shipping. Perhaps you're cooped up with a loved one who, even under typical circumstances, isn't much of a recycler -- is there an opportunity to nudge them to reconsider?
If you're capable and willing to save and store your recyclables until programs reopen, here are some helpful tips:
- Rinse and empty to remove any food or other residue, etc.
- Separate recyclables by material type, or by 1) various containers, and 2) paper products.
- Save space by flattening materials, like boxes and milk jugs. (Check out our Crushing Experiment for details.)
- Store recyclables in a cool and dry place