When it comes to living a green lifestyle, there’s always something more you can do. Even if you think you’re dong everything you can, recycling everything possible, making those changes, it’s easy to slip into a regular routine where habits that aren’t eco-friendly start to form.
The good news is that you don’t need to uproot your life to live green. There’s no need to purchase an electric car you can’t afford or to live off the grid when you don’t want to. Everyone has to find the green balance in their life which will always look a bit different than others, but there are still some easy things everyone can do to minimise their carbon footprint.
Check out these 10 tips for recycling everything that you can start using today. It may surprise you what can be recycled, thanks to the growing effort to make the world a greener place to live.
1. Don’t Forget Your Phones
New phone models are announced all the time. It may feel like as soon as you’ve saved up the money to upgrade, you already need to replace the new phone in the same month that you bought it.
Whether you hold onto your phone for years or prefer to upgrade as often as possible, don’t forget that phones can be recycled. All you need to do is find a recycling center that will take them. Sometimes that may look like a bin inside your grocery store or a brand like Best Buy. Drop off your phone after you’ve restored it to factory settings and cleaned it up so it can go on to have a second life.
2. Save Your Batteries
Batteries are so tiny that they’re easy to toss in the trash, but they can be recycled instead. Check your town’s website to see if they have information specific to where you live. If not, you can check the Earth911 tool to find specific recycling instructions for the batteries you’re trying to get rid of.
3. Upcycle Your Clothes
Although they’re two different terms, upcycling and recycling are the same when it comes to clothes. Drop off anything that doesn’t fit anymore at your local consignment shop or thrift store. As long as there aren’t noticeable tears or stains, the clothes will most likely be accepted for donation.
4. Donate Old Furniture
After you get the itch to replace or upgrade your furniture, make a note to donate the old furniture you don’t want anymore. Larger consignment shops will gladly take them if they’ve aged with grace.
5. Give Away Your Glasses
You may not go through them often, but when you need to toss an old pair of eyeglasses, think about recycling them. You can drop them off at the Lion’s Club, which is in most locations. Check out their website to find their nearest location to see where you can recycle your eyeglasses.
6. Wipe Your Laptops
Have any old laptops sitting around your home? Wipe them clean and restore them to factory settings before recycling them through a rewards program, like the ones offered by Best Buy, Staples and Amazon. You may even get a little money back for your efforts, depending on the quality and age of the laptop.
7. Read the Ink Cartridge
Almost everyone has a printer at home, but to recycle old ink cartridges, you must read the labeling on the package. Follow the instructions for your specific cartridges so the ink is safely disposed of.
8. Store Your Plastic Bags
Save the plastic grocery bags you get at the store every week and recycle them when you need to carry something. Use them as stuffing when you put things in boxes or as dog waste bags when you take your pup to the park.
9. Cut Away Greasy Cardboard
You may recycle your pizza boxes, but they end up being tossed in a landfill at the recycling center. Why? Because pizza grease and food can’t be separated from cardboard fibres, so before you recycle your next box, cut away the greasy parts and throw them in the trash. The cardboard that’s left should be dropped off at a recycling center, since it can be reused in future cardboard products.
10. Call About Take-Back Programs
Certain household items can’t be recycled at community centers, but can be donated to take-back programs. Water filters are one of these, since they’re made from composite materials that recycling centres can’t process. Research take-back programs for what you want to recycle, in case you find a new and better option to use.
Keep an Open Mind
Even if you consider yourself the greenest person in your friend group, keep an open mind. Be open to learning how you can continue minimising your carbon footprint and you’ll always find new ways to adapt to a greener lifestyle.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability. You can read her blog, Conservation Folks, for more of her work.