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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-21-2015
Anyone who steps foot outside of their home and into the public, can quickly see the mass amounts of waste we generate as a society. The statistics are staggering. According the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) we produce 32 million tons of plastic waste alone. Remember the last bottle of water you replenished with after exercise, or while on lunch? Yep, it’s in there and when multiplied by the millions of other people just like yourself doing the same, it adds up fast.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who declare themselves to be green-minded or focused on environmental sustainability, yet don’t reflect their sentiments within the majority of their own actions. It’s a little bit of the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality, which is really a shame given the easy changes than can make each and every one of us a little bit more green.

Take every day garbage disposal for example. If you really examine your usage, how much is really pure trash and how much is recyclable? Do you recycle? Or, do you mix everything together, assuming someone else sorts it later? (If you are that person, a little secret for you… 99% of the time, they don’t sort it and it ends up polluting a landfill). According to the EPA, the national recycling rate is 34% which seems a bit low to me, for what we all can be doing.

In my house, trash amounts for only a quarter of what I dispose! I know this because I live in an area that requires I take my own sorted trash to the dump, or pay a hefty price to have someone else do it. It doesn’t take much effort at all and at the end, I get to feel as if I’ve done my part for the environment. At least I can feel good about being 2x ahead of the national rate in my own home!

Recycling isn’t just about trash. It is about making smart choices about what can be reused and how. Here are some easy suggestions a family can enact to recycle and also conserve:

Beverages: If you enjoy a daily hot drink each morning on the way to work and commute in such a way that bringing your own mug works, do it. The same holds true for bringing your own re-useable water bottle. This is part recycling and part conserving, both these actions prevent trash from mounting up! If you do purchase your coffee in a disposable cup, pay attention when you receive a double cup. Do you really need it? Can you save it for your next on-the-go hot beverage?

Paper: Have a bunch of print outs or junk mail? Every sheet of paper has 2 sides and unless you’re writing correspondence or creating documents to be shared with others, that’s still good paper for children’s crafts, scratch notes, etc. Even better, challenge yourself to go digital and avoid printing things as frequently as possible and unsubscribe from those mailing lists that litter your mailbox.

Parenting: Opportunities to recycle abound when you have kids and a little creativity. Left over poster-board quickly converts to being a mailing envelope! Coloring book pages make creative wrapping paper. Clothing and toys can be swapped with friends, family and even strangers as children age out of them; join a local parents group on Facebook, there are parents who can use them!

Food: Learn how to really cook. Doing so enables the ability to use left overs and straggling ingredients in brilliant ways to make the next meal. This type of recycling can really make you feel good too! There is a sense of pride that comes from knowing you’ve used all the food you’ve purchased, rather than discarded a significant portion of it.

Clothing: According to the EPA 12 million tons of textiles end up in landfills, contaminated and unable to be reclaimed/ recycled. It’s so easy to avoid contributing to this. Participate in clothing swaps with friends, and families, or donate excess clothes to one of the many local organizations set-up to take them, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. If you do submit clothes to town collections for textile recycling, make sure they don’t get wet or exposed to moisture that can generate mildew.

If you’d like some help with recycling or trash removal, you can always submit a free request via to be connected with a local waste professional.

Go Green
Waqqas Anwar
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