Going Green: How do I start recycling?



Going Green: How do I start recycling?

Begin by reducing how much stuff you use

The best time to begin to think about recycling is when you are shopping. Reducing the amount of things you buy and the amount of packaging you use will prevent waste in the first place. This is where living the raw food lifestyle really pays off ecologically. Fresh fruits and vegetables come with little or no packaging, compared with processed foods which are not only unhealthy and loaded with sodium, but also packed in unnecessary and wasteful packaging.

Here are some ideas for reducing how much stuff you consume:

Instead of buying brand new CDs, Books, and DVDs, borrow them from the library.

Go to www.lendlist.org to find items to borrow or to list your own items out for loan.

Purchase reusable items such as cameras, razors, batteries, eating utensils, cloth diapers, etc. Avoid using “disposable” items as much as possible.

Pay your bills and read the newspaper online to cut down on your paper use. Try to print on both sides of paper.

Bring your own shopping bags with you when you shop.

Buy in bulk to avoid excess packaging.

Only purchase items which come in recyclable containers.

Try to break the shopping habit, buy only what you really need. 

Reuse as much as you can

Reusing things when possible is even better than recycling because the item does not have to go through processing in order to be used again. There are many ways to reuse items. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Reuse old nut butter jars to store dried herbs, nuts, grains, and legumes in.

Shop at thrift stores and garage sales. When you purchase things that have been gently used, you prevent them from going to the landfill. You also prevent new items from being made, which saves precious energy and resources.

Go to www.swaptree.com to trade your old books, CDs, and DVDs that you no longer use for titles that you would like to have.

Join your local www.freecycle.org group. Here you can offer to give away items you no longer need, or look for free stuff for yourself.

Go to www.craigslist.org to list used items for sale or look to for used items that you would like to buy.

Habitat for humanity www.habitat.org accepts partially used building equipment such as paint for reuse.

Go to http://earth911.org to find plenty of organizations that will accept your unwanted things.


Recycling is absolutely necessary to help protect our planet earth. Recycling not only keeps countless items from entering landfills, it also saves energy, water, and natural resources. Recycling reduces pollution and keeps items like cans and bottles out of the oceans. Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light an incandescent light bulb for up to four hours. While we are definitely making large strives in the right direction, there are still many improvements to be made. You may want to begin to recycle, but aren’t sure what you can recycle or where to get started.  

The first step in starting a recycling system in your home is to find out what the recycling rules are in your area.  Recycling options vary depending on your location. Go to http://earth911.org .  Here you can type in what you have to recycle along with your zip code to find out where to take your recyclable items or if your city has curbside recycling.

After you find out how to recycle in your area you can set up color coded bins in a convenient area of your home. For example, paper may go in a red bin, plastic in a green bin, aluminum cans in a blue bin, etc. Some recycling centers allow for all of the different types of items to go into one big bin together.

If your community does not have a recycling program, petition your government to start one. You can also check with your local health food store to see if they have a recycling program.

Here is a list of interesting items you may not have thought to recycle:

Tennis shoes- Nike takes any brand of old tennis shoes to recycle into athletic surfaces such as basketball and tennis courts. Got to www.nike.com for more information.

Rechargeable Batteries- Most stores that sell rechargeable batteries have a recycling program and will take them back.

Fleece clothing- Patagonia takes old fleece clothing and recycles the fabric into new garments. Go to www.patagonia.com/recycle for more information

Don’t forget to purchase items that are made from recycled materials. Examples include computer and notebook paper, bathroom tissue, and paper towels.

By reducing reusing, and recycling, you will make a huge difference in the future of our planet.

Written by Angela-Coate-HermesCopyright 2009



Bongiorno, Lori. Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life. New York: The Penguin Group, 2008.  

Crampon, Norm. Green House: eco-friendly disposal and recycling at home. Lanham, Maryland: The Rowan & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2008. 

 Schultz, Warren. The Organic Suburbanite; an environmentally friendly way to live the American dream. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Organic Living Books, 2001.