By Christa Adams
It’s time to talk trash again. Global Recycling Day happens March 18, representing a worldwide effort to draw attention to the importance of recycling. But can talk be translated into action? It’s a critical question considering the ever-increasing amount of waste being produced around the world. Reducing, reusing, and recycling has never been more important in preserving the planet. Luckily, there are many simple ways to make a positive difference. From starting to recycle at home, donating unused items, or even raising awareness on social media, there are many ways to contribute to the cause.
At SaltyLama, we’re proud our eco-friendly laundry detergent strips come in packaging that is biodegradable and compostable. Think of all the loads of laundry done every year — and the plastic jugs that, once emptied, end up in landfills and in our oceans. Made from petrochemicals, these plastics disintegrate into microplastics. These then end up in our water, consumed by animals, and even inside our bodies. Worse, many of the chemicals found in plastics are known to cause health problems, including cancer.
So, aside from ditching traditional detergent for a sustainable alternative, what are other steps you can take ahead of Global Recycling Day? Read on to help create a more sustainable world.
What is Global Recycling Day?
Global Recycling Day was established by the Global Recycling Foundation in 2018. Its goal? Educate people about the benefits of recycling and to encourage individuals, governments, and businesses to reduce waste. It’s also a way to highlight how recycling benefits us all — from conserving such natural resources as water to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the extraction of raw materials to creating jobs when governments invest in sustainable infrastructure. At the heart of Global Recycling Day is a shared sense of responsibility and the recognition that each of us has a role to play in protecting the planet.
Start recycling at home
If you don’t already recycle, it’s never too late to begin. Find out what materials your local recycling program accepts and make sure you're sorting your waste correctly. States, counties, and even cities often do things differently. For example, some accept glass while others do not. So, look up your area’s recycling program and go from there.
We recommend organizing your waste area for recyclables, compostables, and trash. If your area requires you to separate your recyclables into sections like glass, paper, and plastic, you can also do that. Having a specific bin for your recyclables makes it that much easier to recycle at home. Depending on where you live, you can also request a large recycling bin that goes outside of your house and collectors will come once every one or two weeks. Otherwise, you can take your materials directly to a recycling facility. Make it part of your weekly routine and recycling at home will begin to feel effortless.
Know what can and can’t be recycled
This is why a lot of people give up on recycling. Trying to understand plastic code labels and what’s recyclable can seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a legendary eco-warrior with the knowledge to educate your peers.
A few quick things to keep in mind: Wipes, Styrofoam, chips bags, bubble wrap, soiled paper towels, greasy pizza boxes, and plastic bags can’t be recycled. However, some items such as light bulbs, clothes, batteries, and electronics can be recycled but not in your regular recycling bin. Look into specific facilities or organizations that accept these items. Consider this list of items that can and can’t be recycled.
Give your recyclables a rinse
Help to ensure your items get recycled by washing your empty cans, bottles, and cartons of food and liquid waste before placing them in your recycling bin. Contaminated items are difficult or impossible to properly recycle and could contaminate other items in the process. They don’t have to be sparkling clean but ensure food waste and mold have been removed.
Global Recycling Day isn’t just about recycling better but buying better as well. When you start to be more conscious of what you buy, you can ensure you’re purchasing items that can be efficiently recycled or — better yet —don’t need to be recycled at all. Rather, they can be composted. You can begin to buy better by purchasing higher quality goods that are built to last. This cuts down on the need to constantly mass produce new items and means less waste in landfills and better value for your dollar. Also, look for items that use no single-use plastic in their packaging — cardboard and paper are always better. And prioritize items made from recycled materials rather than new ones.
Shopping secondhand has become the cool thing to do. It’s not unusual to proudly state that your new lamp or pair of jeans has been thrifted from your local charity shop. It doesn’t make you seem cheap; instead, it showcases just how responsible you are. You’re doing your part to reduce pollution — purchasing unused secondhand items lowers the demand for new ones — as well as save money along the way.
Honestly, we can’t think of many things that are better for the environment than buying secondhand and it’s a great way to participate in Global Recycling Day. Plus, you might as well take the opportunity to go donate some of your unused items in the process.
Use what you have
Since not everything can be recycled and some items have sentimental value, find new uses for them, or repair them if they’re damaged. We let so many unused items sit in our basements or attics for years because we don’t want to give them away. Bring them out, find ways to incorporate them into your home, donate them, or sell them online for a profit.
For example, you can use glass jars as pen holders, beverage glasses, or even to make candles. If you have a lot of old T-shirts that don’t fit anymore, take up a new project and make a colorful quilt out of them. Better yet, use those T-shirts as rags instead of buying new paper towels.
There are endless ways to make use of the unused items in your house.
Here’s an article full of inspiration for those random unused items.
Raise awareness about the importance of recycling
Now it’s time to take charge and raise awareness for our planet’s sake. Share facts about the problem with plastic pollution and how to recycle and do it better. Take the knowledge you’ve learned about recycling and share it on social media. Raise awareness at your school, workplace, or with friends. Let everyone know why we should all do our part to limit waste.