Recycling at home is an eco-conscious alternative to conventional waste disposal. It helps you minimize your environmental impact by reducing the amount of waste you send to landfills.
Discarding your things responsibly is the way to go forward. All kinds of wastes are piling up in landfills at an alarming rate. By recycling at home, you support the transformation of used materials into brand new products, consuming fewer resources in the process.
To help you make the most out of your old stuff, here are super simple recycling tips at home you can use today to save time, money, and protect the planet.
1. Know what can be recycled
The first step to improve your recycling at home is to know what you can easily recycle. Don't just focus on one type of waste, household plastic, like the majority of the zero waste movement.
The leading sustainable waste management company FCC Environment categorizes waste into 12 types, that involve more than only plastic. You can recycle most of these at home without a lot of effort:
- Ferrous metal
- Non-ferrous metal
- Mineral oil
- Organic fat
- Organic solvent
- Paper, carton, cardboard
- Refuse Derived Fuels (RDF)
If this is all new to you, simply take your recyclables to the local recycling station and learn how to organize waste.
2. Join recycling programs
You can join recycling programs from towns, councils, cities, brands, and retailers that collect and recycle used items like clothing, shoes, books, toys, electronics, appliances, tools, art, decor, and furniture.
Or you can drop off your gently used products at organizations that have direct relationships with recyclers. Simply visit websites like RecycleNow to find out what you can recycle at home or in your local area.
After a bit of research to find out more information about what you can recycle, and where, you can easily promote recycling at home and limit tremendous amounts of waste otherwise destined to landfill.
3. Replace disposable items
Replace all disposable items you frequently use at home with reusable products. Single-use bags, napkins, towels, plates, cups, spoons, and pens all have a more durable version that can be used multiple times.
You can start a low-impact lifestyle to protect the environment and save money at the same time by simply swapping out single-use plastics that have a disastrous impact on ecosystems and human health.
Single-use plastics are some of the most wasteful products for a lot of consumers. Simply refusing single-use plastics such as straws. Use an eco-friendly straw instead, such as a bamboo straw.
Don't take perfume and shampoo samples. Prefer products in larger containers. Bring a reusable shopping bag when buying groceries. Buy a reusable water bottle and use a filter for tap water.
4. Make compost
You can easily recycle organic material like food scraps and yard debris to make compost at home. It's a fabulous way to minimize your impact on the environment and adding value to waste materials.
Compost your food waste as an easily recycling solution to do at home. You don't have to throw away every scrap at the end of each meal. Instead, store them in a composting bin.
Try to buy food, clothes, and beauty products made locally and organically. Visit the farmers' market and stock up on delicious, organic, and locally-grown food.
You can reduce waste, water, and carbon footprints by choosing local, organic items over conventional products. Then, learn to cook delicious meals at home.
It's a fantastic way to will limit the amount of waste you create as you won't need to buy food on the go. To eat lighter and healthier, cook your meals in your kitchen.
Cooking at home using seasonal and local products is a fun low-waste activity you can do all year round. You can easily add berries to oatmeal bowls for breakfast, make salads or lettuce wraps for lunch, and cook a vegetable stew for dinner.
5. Freeze excess food
Don't put excess food in the trash. Instead, freeze it in a stock bag to cook later. And put food waste in a compost bin.
The best tip to avoid food waste is to plan your meals. Make a list in advance of the ingredients you need and in which quantities.
And keep track of what you have leftover. This way, you can avoid buying new products when you don't need to.
Whenever you need to buy something at the supermarket, make an effort to look for vegetables and fruits, cereals, grains, nuts and seeds, beans, and legumes without packaging.
Many fruits and vegetables can make the trip back home without an extra bag. If a plastic container is necessary, reuse them. Reuse specific food containers to limit the amount of plastic you consume.
6. Eliminate packaging
Look for products that use less packaging. Waste like plastic packaging takes a lot of energy to recycle and years to decompose. Try to buy in bulk whenever you can.
Look for package-free soap and cleaning products at farmer's markets or some grocery stores. Some of the best soaps you can use are all-natural with packaging and made with organic oils, herbs, spices, plant butter, pure essential oils, and chemical-free ingredients.
You can even make cleaning products yourself by using a water and vinegar solution. It's as effective, less toxic, and plastic-free since it eliminates bottles of cleaner.
7. Sell your used items
Consider buying and selling second-hand items that are still in good condition. Consumers all other the world choose pre-owned products as an affordable home recycling solution to limit waste, save money, and protect the planet.
You can easily buy and sell pre-loved items at thrift stores, vintage shops, resale stores, consignment stores, or online marketplaces. It's an easy way to find cheap, stylish, and unique items.
You can also go to local sales, garage sales, fairs, shows, auctions, flea markets, farmer's markets, and town markets. Or simply borrow or exchange second-hand items with your friends and family.
Or search for swap groups in your area on Meetup if your friends don't stuff to trade with you.
8. Donate to charity
You can also donate a lot of the things you have at home that you don't need or use anymore. Many charities and non-profit organizations accept all kinds of donations. It's an easy way to recycle or give gently used products a second life.
You can donate old items that are in good condition to homeless and women's shelters, community centers, family service agencies, thrift stores, immigrant support groups, schools, and local churches.
Check for the many organizations in your area that accept donations. Some of them raise money for charitable causes by selling your generous contributions and donating a portion of their profits.
9. Buy less stuff
Simply by reducing the amount of unnecessary stuff you buy, you can save yourself a lot of hassle managing your waste at home. To minimize your carbon footprint and reduce your trash, shop responsibly.
The most sustainable things are the ones you already own. Buy less useless stuff overall. Try to prioritize quality over quantity. Get items that last longer and can be used for a long time. Look for items that can be reused, rather than using disposable items.
Take better care of what you currently have. Maintain and repair products like clothes, shoes, accessories, and appliances, so you won't have to replace them that frequently.
Only purchase what you truly need, and stuff that is essential to your lifestyle. One great way to do so is to plan and put together a shopping list before going out.
Oftentimes, less is more, and owning less is a great feeling. You can easily improve your lifestyle over time by focusing on the essentials that make you feel great.
10. Choose products with recycled content
One of the simplest ways to recycle at home is to look for products that already contain recycled ingredients and can easily be recycled. Buy products made from recycled materials to promote recycling, limit waste, and save yourself time and money.
There are billions of products out there made of recycled content. Prefer mono-materials, products that are only composed of a single type of material, as they are typically easier to recycle than products made from different things.
11. Make a plan
Make a chart or plan and note what you can recycle at home every day during the week to help the environment. Make a list of what you should be recycling and what you can do better in the future.
For example, you can list everything you consume regularly that you could buy in bulk to reduce packaging waste. Or list the items you use at home that could be replaced with multipurpose or multitasking products.
If you identify the best ways to recycle your old things, you'll avoid having too much waste and an encumbered home. Don't keep anything that is too old, overused, out of trend, uncomfortable, or simply doesn't fit your lifestyle anymore.
Use empty containers and organizers to place the items you can recycle together and separate them by categories. It's a good idea to keep your waste grouped if go together in the same recycle bin. Containers and organizers are your friends.
12. Repair what you can
Try to repair anything that is broken and needs fixing. You might have old clothes with broken buckles or missing buttons that you can sew, but also shelves, hangers, and racks that you can mend.
If you can patch it quickly, do it as soon as possible. But if something broke a while ago and you don't have solid plans to repair it in the future, it's time to let it go. Take it out and recycle.
If you think someone else could repair the item, then you can try to donate or sell it. If not, don't throw it in the trash! Look for an easy way to recycle or repurpose it into something else.
13. Upcycle old items
Upcycling is a great way to reuse old things you have stored at home. By repurposing used items like worn textiles, you can create new, useful objects of higher value.
Upcycling gives a new purpose to old items in your house by making something exceptional and unique. You can preserve the environment by using old stuff to remake something helpful, instead of throwing it away.
Simply uses parts of or the entire item to make something valuable without breaking it down completely. It's a very efficient process with a lower environmental impact than simply sending things to recyclers.
You can upcycle your things at home without extra machinery and save resources. You can give old products an extended life and use them for a long time by giving them a new function.
You can also shred down or downcycle old items to create something of lesser value. For example, make clutches, bags, totes, wallets, cleaning rags, pillowcases, or filters out of old clothes.
Decorate old jars, vases, and pots to transform them into fun reusable containers to store loose items. Try to get creative before throwing anything in the trash.
You can even shred old textiles into materials for insulation, carpet padding, yarn, and other uses. You can easily give old items in your closet a new use and keep them out of landfills.
14. Save water and energy
Beyond recycling at home and reducing waste, living an eco-friendly lifestyle also means responsible consumption and conservation of all resources.
Practice consuming less water and energy as much as possible. Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Wash your clothes only when you need to and with cold water.
- Air dry your laundry.
- Fill the dishwasher all the way.
- Take shorter and colder showers.
- Capture rainwater to water your plants.
- Use LED bulbs indoors as they require less energy and release less heat.
- Use a pressure cooker for the same reasons.
- Turn off lights and other electronics.
- Avoid elevators.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.
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