The average American generates nearly 5 pounds of garbage per day.  That’s almost a ton of garbage per person per year.  These numbers are twice what they were 50 years ago.  And 75 percent of that waste is eligible for recycling, but only 30 percent is actually recycled.


  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “It costs money.”
  • “If it’s biodegradable, can’t I just throw it away?”
  • “I’m just one person. What’s the point?”

Sound familiar?  The fact is conserving our planet takes no longer than a few minutes and no more than a few dollars.  Recycling is the fastest, most effective method of preserving our resources.  One person can make a difference because recycling has a ripple effect.  Set an example for someone else by getting started today.


  1. Call your local recycling agency. Request a receptacle(s) and ask about guidelines and pick-up days.  In most cases, aluminum, paper and plastic are all accepted.  In some cases, glass is also accepted.  Many cities have moved to single-stream recycling, enabling you to store everything together in one bin, and they don’t always require pre-washing anymore.  Now, that’s progress!
  2. Strategically position your containers. Find a convenient spot for your bin(s).  If you have to walk to the garage every time something needs recycling, you might not do it — unless, of course, you’re trying to get in extra steps on your fitness routine.  Then it’s a great idea!  (You heard it here.  Recycling burns calories.)
  3. Don’t have a lot of space? Consider mounting bins vertically up a wall to take up less space in a closet or utility room.  Or, if it’s convenient, set everything up outside near one of your home’s exterior doors for easy access.  Just remember that any receptacle for paper should be lidded, as wet cardboard can clog up the sorting machines at recycling centers.
  4. There are three Rs in the slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”  Most people jump ahead to the last one.  You can reduce the need for recycling by using your own canvas grocery bags, cloth napkins and refillable water bottles, and you can reuse items by donating them to charity or breathing new life into them with fresh paint, upholstery or other repair.
  5. Purchase goods made from recycled materials. We’ve all seen the recycling logo with three interlocking arrows arranged in a triangle, right?  The first arrow represents the collection of recyclables, the second the manufacture of goods from those recyclables and the third the purchase of those recycled goods.  It’s called completing the loop.  Why not give it a try? 

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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