I am pleased (and slightly ashamed) to announce that we recently started regularly recycling household goods, for the first time in my life. And I mean really recently—like since the beginning of the year. Of course I’ve been wanting to start recycling for a while now, but excuses always stopped me. We don’t have enough space for another bin or curbside recycling is so expensive in Colorado; we can’t afford it or I’m a busy mother of two. I can’t think about recycling on top of everything else! Several weeks ago we jumped in with both feet. Caveman bought a bin to serve as the collector, and we joined the fight to save the Earth by driving our recycling to an actual sorting center. Since then, I have realized a couple things about this new life habit. Among them are three not-so-obvious reasons to recycle…
1. Generate less trash
Okay, so maybe this one IS obvious. But for some reason I wasn’t prepared for the significant slash in the amount of trash that we would be sending to the landfill. We took our bin to the curb today with maybe one trash bag full. Before we started recycling, that bin would have been filled to the top with garbage! I’ve been amazed at how many of the items we used to toss on a daily basis are actually recyclable. Spaghetti sauce jars, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, Oh my! Our recycling bin overflows long before the trash can does these days, which makes both me and the landfill smile.
2. Be aware of packaging
When you are constantly checking the underside of boxes for that little recycling symbol, you become more aware of wise environmental choices even before you buy. Items with less packaging (bulk cans or produce with little to no packaging) leave you with less to discard in the first place. The fewer boxes and wrapping you allow in your home, the fewer you must get rid of. It’s that simple. Of course the hope would be that as more and more people shun the convenience foods (read: individually-wrapped-and-over-packaged), then food conglomerates would get the message and produce less of them. I don’t see things going that way, but it’s a nice thought. Either way, recycling makes us more aware of the fact that we can limit how much trash enters our home.
3. Teach responsibility to children
Now that there are two identical white bins in the kitchen for rubbish, Caveman and I have been challenged with the task of teaching Red what goes in which bin. It will probably take awhile for him to fully catch on, but at two-and-a-half we are simply saying that only special items go in the bin in the back—trash that can be made into new things. Thankfully the great philosopher Bob the Builder hits the whole “reduce, reuse, recycle” thing pretty consistently, so he is aware of the concept. As both boys grow older, we pray that they will grasp the overall virtues of responsibility and being good stewards of the home we’ve been given.
So those are the three “side affects,” if you will, to recycling that I’ve noticed in the past several weeks. Can you think of any other benefits to recycling beyond the usual answers of protecting wildlife, saving space in landfills and overall preserving energy?
Thanks for reading!