Tag Archive recycle

Recycling Properly

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Recycling is a civic responsibility and is more important now than ever. You may be thinking, “But I recycle!” Well, you might be recycling but are you doing it in the proper way? For a long time I thought I had it all figured out and was apart of this positive and almost effortless movement, but as of recently I had discovered that I was recycling several things that I shouldn’t be, as well as recycling things that would be denied at a plant, and it was really discouraging. It may bum you out for a second making that realization, but take this moment as a time to reflect and take the next step into making a difference. This post is made to break down, educate and promote a reduce, reuse, recycle lifestyle in the easiest way possible.

Before we get into what you shouldn’t be recycling, it’s best to learn more about some current events involving recycling, and some history to put things into an even larger perspective.

Back in the beginning of 2018, China had announced that it would not be accepting certain types of imported garbage that included a lot of different varieties of plastic and paper. The guidelines for which ones they accept and don’t accept have become much more strict than it used to be. If the item does not meet the material criteria or is more than 0.5% impure, they will be denied. Which has turned into a nightmare for loads of waste managers who say that these standards are impossible to meet. Even the smallest imperfections on items can make a whole batch of recyclables useless (The New York Times).

Before this ban the United States alone was sending 4,000 shipping containers filled to the brim with plastic recyclables DAILY to China (USA Today). Some countries have found it difficult to find an alternative to use instead of the Chinese market including Canada, Australia, Britain Germany and some other European countries. The Western side of the United States has been dealing with the repercussions a little heavier than most areas. Parts of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii have began refusing to recycle most plastics, glass and certain styles of paper and urging customers to put them in the trash. Some plastics that used to be recycled just fine are now being denied. Things like yogurt containers, tubs of butter and oil bottles. Which most of us wouldn’t even think twice about recycling regularly. As you can assume, recycling plants are taking an extremely rough hit from all of this. These companies used to get paid to sell off recyclable items, but it has turned into them having to pay people to take the items off their hands (The New York Times).

Landfills are unfortunately in an extremely rough place and it’s disheartening knowing that 80% of the items in landfills could be recycled, but a lot of people think that oceans are being hit the heaviest with the largest and most rapid negative repercussions. A study that was done at the University of Georgia had concluded that 18 billion pounds of plastic waste end up in the ocean EVERY YEAR (Rubicon). By 2050 if this type of unacceptable issue continues, the World Economic Forum has concluded that there will more plastic in the ocean and seas than fish (The Washington Post). A great reference point on how bad pollution in the water has gotten dates back to August of 1997, when Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific garbage patch (Charles Moore). This “garbage patch” is now at least 87,000 tons worth of 99.9% plastic rubbish. Full of toys, electronics, bottles, nets, etc. You name it, it’s probably smothered within this disturbing vortex of trash. It is about four times the size of California, and has an estimated amount of 1.8 trillion pieces of waste within it. This is sixteen times bigger than what researchers had estimated. The main fear that comes from this is that these plastics will continue to disintegrate into micoplastics. Microplastics are extremely hard to remove from the ocean since they are smaller than 5mm, which is not visible to the human eye. They already make up 94% of the patch, and are being found in an abundance of marine life. It has entered just about everything under the sea from plankton to whales. In households, it has been found to have contaminated things like salt, honey, sugar, beer, fertilizers, dust, tape water and even bottled water. Since these fish are digesting these particles, that means that they are leisurely entering our food chain without us even realizing it.  (Journal of Medical Toxicology).

Now that we have discussed how alarming this monstrous issue is, we have some little tips to guide you towards a more green lifestyle.

1. Disposable Cups

Some disposable cups are recyclable, but even people who use them daily wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference from one you can recycle and one you cannot recycle. Some are lined with polyethylene and this makes the cup liquid proof. Unfortunately, it’s hard to reprocess at recycling facilities and also extremely costly (The New York Times). If you were to ask a waste manager, they would suggest that you just throw it into the trash or to invest in a reusable cup!

2. Pizza Boxes/Takeout Containers

When you dispose of your pizza box do you observe how much grease is on the box, or do you just dispose of it into your recyclables without any thought? If so, be sure to be more cautious next time. The oil from your pizza unfortunately can’t be separated from the fiber of the cardboard, which makes the cardboard less desirable to buyers. If there’s only a few crumbs and a little bit of grease, don’t stress! If it’s minimal, they can still be sold. Same goes for takeout containers. They can be tricky because if they fit the plastic requirements, then you automatically would assume it’s something you can recycle, but you need to take one extra step to get it ready for the recycling process. Make sure you discard all of the food scraps left in your to go container before recycling it. You don’t need to make sure they’re completely spotless, but make sure to make that extra effort since the littlest of faults can make or break the material (The New York Times).

3. Plastic Bags

Unfortunately when I discuss this planets recycling issue with anyone, a majority of people seem to not know that you CANNOT RECYCLE PLASTIC BAGS! This is something that I myself have recently found out as a shock. Waste managers have lots of issues with them when they arrive at their facilities since they plug up the machinery. Some areas offer places to drop off your plastic bags, where they are sent to a special recycling plant that accepts nonrigid plastics. You should always avoid plastic bags as much as possible though, considering that they dissolve into microplastics (The New York Times).

4. Shredded Paper

When items arrive at a recycling facility, they then must be separated to find out what materials came that are non-recyclable, and shredded paper poses as a problem in this way. It is extremely difficult to separate them, and can also clog up the machinery just like the plastic bags do unfortunately. You can reconsider recycling your shredded paper and instead putting them into a compost pile (Livestrong)!

Since recycling guidelines range, please research what your local restrictions are to make sure you are accurately recycling, and not adding to the chaos! As a planet, we need to focus not just on the recycle, but the reduce and reuse too. Plenty of plastic is intended and used in a single use, and that just isn’t right to invest in when it is much more ethical and quick to invest in simple alternatives. Start by minimizing your plastic use, purchase reusable straws and bags, buy products made of recyclable material, buy boxed items instead of bottled and donating old clothes to charity are all little things you can start doing to make a big difference.

Living More Sustainably

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Living a sustainable lifestyle is something that ethical humans dream, if not strive, to achieve at some point in their lives. Even though it is definitely a struggle to live as self-sufficient person in this day and age, just by incorporating more “green” decisions here and there will make an enormous difference. When going towards a more sustainable lifestyle, know that you will not only be saving money and boosting your self satisfaction, but you will also be helping out with the downsize of landfills, reduction of your carbon footprint, promoting energy efficiency (HuffPost) and even more unarguably rewarding things that also give back to the planet. We are here to help bring awareness to some steps for you to consider bringing into to your daily life to help out your girl, Mother Nature.

1. Cut Down on Electricity

Electricity is something that a lot of us probably don’t focus on too often. We leave a light on here and there, fall asleep with the television on, keep our cell unnecessarily charging all night, but realistically things like this can cause a giant negative impact since a majority of people are living this way. If you are prone to accidentally leaving the lights on, look into purchasing LED or CFL bulbs instead of incandescent lights. LED and CFL bulbs last much longer and are more energy efficient. Even just opening up your blinds more often during the day and using natural light instead of the artificial nonsense is an significant change. Laundry is something else around the house that you can start modifying that will be largely beneficial. If you’re not in a rush to wear something, forget about throwing the garment in the dryer, hang it up to dry! No astronomical sacrifices here, just have to stay a tad bit more patient when it comes to your clothes drying. When the chilly nights start, be sure to bulk up on clothes instead of running your heat at an excessive temperature. Nothing two pairs of fuzzy socks and a comfy hoodie can’t fix!

2. Changing Food Habits

(Marilyn Barbone, Adobe Stock)

Food is something that most people seem to have the hardest time altering due to comfortable habits. Having to constantly be super conscience of what you’re consuming regularly is a hefty hurdle, but it’s well worth it. Going vegan isn’t for everybody, but it is something that has a really monumental impact on our environment and ourselves. A lot of people don’t realize that what they’re putting into their bodies is harming not only the animals, but the planet as well on a monstrous scale. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations did an assessment and concluded that the livestock industry is contributing more to greenhouse gases than transportation is (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). Even if you don’t follow a strict vegan diet, incorporating some form of a Mediterranean, pescetarian, vegetarian or vegan diet is useful for reducing greenhouse gas emissions immensely. A study done by Nature, the international journal of science, had found that if across the globe we all followed an equal combination of these types of diets, an 80% increase of greenhouse gas emissions from the food industry can be steered clear of (Nature). If you start maintaining your own garden, that could be a huge lifesaver as well. When you have your own garden you can start canning your own in-season fruits and veggies, be more motivated and inspired to home cook meals and even compost. Composting is material that can be used in your soil that will ultimately help your plants thrive. 30% of what we throw out in our trash to be sent to the dump is food scraps and waste from our yards, which could be used to benefit the earth all this time (EPA). No need to waste perfectly good nutrient and soil enhancers! If composting is something you’re interested in, check out this useful and easy to follow beginners guide.

3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Repurposing within your home, or even prepping it to be repurposed once it leaves your home, is an essential part of becoming self sustainable. A huge thing that consumers use an abundance of is plastic bags. No matter what type of shopping trip you’re planning on taking, it’s more than likely you’re going to be using a plastic bag provided by the company at checkout. Next time you’re about to go shopping, don’t forget to grab a handy reusable tote bag. Good news too, most stores are starting to provide purchasable reusable bags if you forget yours at home. If you use lots of plastic bags in your daily life for things other than shopping, look for other alternatives for other types of bags as well. They have an eco friendly bag for just about anything, even pet waste bags that are biodegradable! Another thing that a lot of homeowners tend to have in their house is takeout containers. Plenty of takeout containers now are made of plastic and are pretty sturdy compared to some old school to-go boxes. They are usually dishwasher safe, and something you’ll be able to use for meal prepping, storage containers and even DIY projects! Recycling is something that you should try out even if you don’t have a recycling bin in close proximity to your home. Just because there might not be something super close by, the trip to a nearby recycling bin is worth the trip. Recycling helps reduce the pollution put into the air caused by waste, and we want to keep our air as clean as possible for us and future generations to come, am I right?! The fun thing about recycling is that you may never know where your recycled material is going to end up, but you do know that it is being put towards something brand new. It could be backpacks, phone cases, beanies, bikes, toys, soaps, clothing, equipment, picnic tables, toothbrushes, kitty litter, birdhouses, shoes, etc. The list goes on and on and these things can be made from YOUR recycled material. You just have to simply make the effort to contribute!

There you have it, now you’re ready to start your journey to becoming more environmentally friendly. These steps seem to be a lot to handle when viewed on a large scale, but remember that breaking it down into small daily changes can make a massive difference over time. Be prepared to become physically and mentally healthier, more self-reliant and overall much more satisfied with life, all while sending earth in a more positive direction.

Repurposing Everyday Items

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Repurposing is a great way to save money and possibly even earn money. If you associate repurposing just with furniture pieces, then you’re wrong! You can repurpose just about anything you want, if you set your mind to it.

1. Toys

Once kids start growing up, it’s inevitable that they are going to grow out of their toys, but GOOD NEWS! That doesn’t mean you have to throw them out just yet, just means you have to put a little bit of time and effort into transforming them into essentially something entirely brand new. Just because a child grows out of certain toys, doesn’t mean they necessarily grow out of certain themes that they’ve enjoyed during their childhood. When your child starts growing up, have their toys grow with them. If a child enjoys dinosaurs, but isn’t into their dinosaur action figures anymore, take those action figures and give a twist to them. Make them into wall art, drawer handles, bookends, magnets, etc. Children’s toys can surprisingly even be beneficial to adults as well. Lego’s can be super useful since they are so diverse and interchangeable. Making holders for your counter tops and walls, bases to lamps, and quirky jewelry designs, are just a few of the countless amounts of ways even YOU can benefit from Lego’s. But hey, if you’re an adult, don’t shy away from using those dinosaur action figures for decor around your own personal spaces either!

2. Textiles

(Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com)

Fabrics on items we have lying around aren’t something we normally think twice about. For example, taking the fabric from a bassinet you haven’t used in years isn’t probably something that crosses your mind. Usually that’s something you’re more than likely just planning on throwing out, but it actually can be used as something that repurposers can take advantage of. Making clutches, cushions, table runners, blankets, ponchos, scarves, bookmarks, headbands, and stockings just to name a few. JUST ABOUT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! With even a little bit of sewing practice and skills, these can all be easy things to create using old fabrics. Sometimes you won’t even need any sewing skills to create astonishing repurposed pieces out of fabric. Fabrics are extremely versatile, so don’t let them go to waste.

3. Glassware

Using glassware is a unique way to create head turning displayable storage. You can use this for anything from makeup brushes, silverware, office supplies, faux flowers, etc. Realistically it can be for anything that you need storage for that you’re willing to put on display. When it comes to glassware, most of the time people buy them in sets. This means you can create a personalized matching set with your desired design! A great way to spice up glassware is with paints, ribbons, twine, dried flowers, glitter, etching, etc. The possibilities are endless when it comes to glassware.

4. Pill Bottles

(Miro Vrlik Photoography / Shutterstock.com)

One of the many things you can do with old pill bottles is turn them into travel size containers. It is a pain already having to stress about what you are able to take on certain trips, and how you are going to transport them. Whether it be because you need to save space, or there is a maximum on how much you can take with you, old pill bottles are an easy solution. They do have certain travel size containers you can purchase at the store, but if you are going on a trip, saving money in any way possible is ideal. Just grab a sharpie and simply label them as desired. You can of course customize them too in any way that you want with other crafting products. Add some stickers, paint, or even just go in with that sharpie and make it look all your own.


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