If you’re looking for ways to reduce the amount of garbage you send away to landfills every year and help the environment, recycling is the best and easiest way to go. Recycling programs have been established in almost every town and city in Canada, and have made a substantial impact on the amount of garbage we create every year. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that recycling saved over 72 million tons of trash from landfills in 2003, and it creates millions of jobs, reduces greenhouse gases, saves energy and natural resources, and decreases pollution. Some people are still unsure about what they can and cannot recycle, and how they should go about discarding harmful products that cannot be recycled or thrown away with most other everyday trash. Hopefully this post helps with any questions you might have over how to recycle!
First, what to recycle from everyday trash. Typical non-food recyclables include:
- Newspapers and magazines
- Cardboard boxes
- Phone books and yellow pages
- Printer paper (helpful tip: print double-sided!)
- Most junk mail
- Empty soda and water bottles
- Glass bottles and jars
- Metal cans
- Aluminum foil
Plastic shopping bags can also be reused at the store, or say no to the plastic and bring your own reusable bags!
Next is tech trash. Many electronic products contain harmful elements like lead, mercury, and cadmium that can leach into the landfills. There are some stores and charities that collect and recycle electronic goods for a small price. Most cities and towns have their own tech drop-off centers where you can take the electronics you aren’t sure of how to dispose of. Things like toner cartridges and old cell phones can be slipped into prepaid mailing envelopes that are mailed back to the manufacturer for recycling. And if you have a cellphone or computer that is out dated but still works, you can donate it to a charity that will refurbish or donate it to a school or organization that can use them.
It can be hard to know whether or not to recycle your old furniture, appliances, or clothes. You may own a lot of out dated stuff that can still be used by other people, even if you don’t want them. Old clothes you can give away to charitable stores like the Salvation Army or Value Village. You can also sell your clothes to a local consignment store or sell it through an online clothing resale website. Furniture can also go to charity resellers like the Salvation Army and Value Village, or the Freecycle Network. If you don’t think your furniture can be resold, break it down into what parts can and cannot be recycled and deal with it accordingly. Old appliances that don’t work anymore can be sent to scrap metal recyclers or municipal dumps.
The most difficult things to know how to properly dispose of is hazardous waste products. Some items are too hazardous to throw away or recycle, including pesticides, harsh cleaning products and chemicals, leftover paint, auto lubricants like motor oil, batteries, and some light bulbs. Each of these products has their own instructions for how to properly handle and dispose of them, and your own municipal garbage pickup regime will have their own instructions and policies as well.