Reducing waste, reusing old items and recycling correctly for Earth Week

Earth Week is a time to honor the planet and shed light on issues that the environment is facing.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in the U.S, more than 140 million tons of waste is disposed into landfills—with food and plastic making up nearly half. Trash in landfills contributes directly to climate change by releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.

The average person is responsible for five pounds of waste per day which includes landfills, recyclables and compost. That means a 150-pound person throws away their entire bodyweight in just one month.

However, there is some good news on the climate front. In 1960, of all the waste generated, 94 went to landfills but decreased to 50% by 2018. Recycling and composting rates have gone up from 6% to 35% in the same timeframe. Paper and cardboard recycling has reduced emissions that equate to the removal of more than 33 million cars from the road for one year.

Here are some ways to reduce, reuse and recycle at home.

Reduce

Reducing waste can also save you money. By swapping out daily water bottles with a reusable water bottle, you could save you a few hundred bucks, or maybe a couple thousand depending on how hydrated you are. Reusable single-serve coffee pods and reusable food containers can also save you money in the long-run.

Reuse

Surprisingly, there are a lot you can do by just reusing everyday items you might otherwise throw out.

Single-serve coffee pods can be repurposed as seed starters.

If you empty the coffee pod and replace it with soil, you can start some seeds in the container and rehome your plant to a bigger pot when it outgrows the pod.

Milk jugs and gallons of water can easily become a handy scoop for dog food or bird feed, etc. You can also repurpose plastic bottles into a watering can by poking holes in the lid or a sprinkler system by poking holes in the bottle and attaching a hose to one end.

There are so many more ideas out there when it comes to repurposing used items, the point is to get creative with what you already own.

Recycle

Make sure to read the instructions on the recycling bin and on your items as well. Some items may be recyclable but have non-recyclable labels that need to be removed first.

Even if an item has the recycling logo on it, it does not necessarily end up with regular recycling.

For example, some plastic grocery store bags have the logo, but may prompt you to take the bag to the store for in-store recycling.  

In fact, no plastic bags should be in your recycling bin, so do not bag your recyclables!

By including non-recyclable items, you are contaminating the actual recyclables in the bin and those items may never make it to the recycling process.

Make sure to clean your recyclables too! Leftover food, like cheese and crust in pizza boxes, can also be a source of contamination.

And of course, always double check with your recycling company to make sure you’re doing so correctly.

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