Recycling for Beginners

If you’re new to the wonderful world of recycling, the first thing you need to do is obtain some recycling containers. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with curbside recycling pick-up, you may not need many–you will at least have one for plastic and maybe one for paper.

In some areas, like mine for example, you have to get creative. We have to deliver our paper (including cardboard), plastic and metal to the transfer station here. In addition, our local paper has receptacles for paper only, as well as aluminum cans. The money from the paper they recycle there goes to the local food bank and the money from the aluminum goes to the Boy Scouts of America. Unfortunately, no one in our area recycles glass. Hazardous materials are collected once a year on a special day. (Check with your local chamber of commerce to find out where to recycle in your area.)

You should probably start with at least 4 containers. Add a fifth to your backyard (if you have one) for composting. For plastic, some areas will only take certain numbers (check your container for the number encircled with arrows). Others will take it all, (and styrofoam, too).

Make sure your containers are clean. You don’t need to use a lot of water to do this, most of the time a quick rinse is fine. Otherwise, wash the containers at the end of your dishes (if by hand), and some may be placed in the dishwasher. If they melt a little, it’s okay since they are being recycled. Cans–same thing.

For your compost pile, it’s easy. You don’t need to buy any special equipment. You can use something as simple as chicken wire connected together in a circle. Whatever you use, the important thing is to keep your compost aerated and watered so it can break down properly–(put it in an area that isn’t sheltered from the rain). It won’t have any bad odors if it’s done correctly. Throw a handful of dirt in on occasion, the organisms in the dirt help to break down the compost. If you live in an apartment, most will have patios or balconies and you can keep a small container there, just keep it watered (once a week or two).

You will be astonished at how little “garbage” you actually put in your garbage bin. It does become like a game, to see how small you can keep your output. It also feels good, knowing you are helping the planet and future generations by recycling. Check out and see what they can do to help you with limiting your trash output.

My name is Michelle Crane. I am a student, a civil process server and a chef.


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