Recycling and Other Ways to be Environmentally Friendly
"Environmental friendliness" is a common buzzword involving processes that strive to avoid harm to the environment. Being environmentally friendly generally incorporates ecologically minded activities such as using cleaner forms of energy and avoiding the use of products that produce waste or chemicals that could harm the environment. By recycling, consumers route trash to facilities where the items are reformulated into new products. Upcycling is another environmentally friendly process that involves repurposing items for new uses in and around the home. Working to reduce waste is also important because this helps to minimize the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. Composting is another important process that uses organic refuse to improve the soil, reducing waste and adding nutrients to the earth at the same time. Each of these processes has a key role to play in taking care of the environment.
How to Recycle
The first step to recycling is deciding to recycle common trash items to make sure they are reused instead of simply thrown away in landfills. Paper, plastics, and glass make up a sizable percentage of household waste, and many of the items that fall within these categories are recyclable. Office paper, cardboard, junk mail, envelopes, newspaper, and magazines are types of paper that most municipalities will accept for recycling. Plastic bottles, cups, and containers are also recyclable, as are glass jars and bottles. To recycle, consumers should rinse plastic and glass containers, but leaving the labels on the containers is usually fine. Breaking down and flattening cardboard boxes prepares these items for recycling.
- How Do I Recycle? Common Recyclables
- What Can I Recycle?
- Recycling Consumer Electronic Waste
- Tips for Safe Recycling
How to Compost
The average household produces a significant amount of organic waste that can be reused to improve the soil instead of being sent to landfills. In recent years, many landfills have begun banning materials such as garden refuse and grass clippings, making it even more advantageous to reuse these materials in home landscaping. Composting involves collecting raw organic materials until they decompose, then applying the compost back onto the soil to improve it. Examples of organic materials to compost include leaves, grass clippings, sawdust, shredded newspaper, and kitchen scraps such as eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable peels. To compost, simply designate a spot to gather and layer the materials. After gathering the materials, it will be necessary to aerate them regularly to aid in decomposition. With frequent turning and by adding kitchen waste often, it may be possible to create rich compost in about six weeks.
- Compost and Composting Resources
- Making and Using Compost
- Why Compost?
- Materials for Composting
- A Guide to Office Composting (PDF)
How to Reduce Waste
Everyone generates waste each day, but people can pay attention to the amount of waste they generate to try to reduce it. Recycling is an important way to reduce garbage, but there are other ways to live in a more environmentally conscious way as well. Not producing waste initially is also conducive to helping the environment. This often means paying attention to the packaging of items. By purchasing one larger item instead of several smaller ones, for instance, packaging can be reduced. Choosing products with less packaging is also helpful, and buying only what is needed will reduce waste as well.
- Why Should We Reduce?
- Five Ways to Reduce Clothing Waste
- Reduce Household Waste
- 14 Ways Consumers Can Reduce Food Waste
- Help Reduce Waste at the Landfill by Donating Unwanted Clothing
- Reducing Waste
How to Upcycle
Upcycling is the process of reusing waste material to create something new and useful. Upcycling objects keeps them out of landfills. With a keen eye for usable waste materials, it's possible to create items that will be useful in the home. For example, an empty tissue box can be upcycled to become a dispenser for plastic bags, and an empty paper towel roll can be useful for organizing charging cables. Upcycling is also exciting for anyone who likes to decorate inexpensively. Old CDs and DVDs can be used to create a wind chime. Empty soup cans can become distinctive planters or pencil jars. It's even possible to crochet with plastic grocery bags to make strong tote bags.
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