It's 2015. Just about everybody knows the importance of recycling items from plastics, paper, glass and metals, to junk cars, jewelry, tires and other items.
Sadly, according to a recent survey by the American Chemistry Council, only half of Americans recycle 75% of their recyclables.
However, there ARE people that do recycle. And Junk Car Medics decided to reach out to 25 of them and ask them one question:
What is your top recycling tip for 2015?
Let me tell you, the answers received from these 25 expert recyclers were nothing short of awesome! They are all listed below.
What is your top recycling tip for 2015?
*In order of when received*
Giuroiu Anton - Homesthetics • Twitter
ANSWER: I'm happy and proud to affirm that the interest in recycling and up-cycling articles showcased on our website grows everyday, a very healthy sign for the entire sustainable movement and the world in ensemble. In 2015 more and more individuals will embrace simple and fun DIY projects. With this thought in mind I would say that the educative DIY projects that can be embraced by parents to teach their little loved ones different lessons will be at the top of the tree; in this category outdoor projects are one of the top choices.
Dinah Wulf - DIY Inspired • Twitter
ANSWER: My tip for 2015 would be to start with your kids. Teaching them small things like proper plastic, paper, and glass sorting, using recycled bags, picking up trash you see in public places, and planting trees are simple habits you can start at a young age to help create an eco-conscious future.
Bridget Johnson - Green Girl Recycling • Twitter
ANSWER: My top recycling tip for 2015 would be simple, 'to think before you buy or toss'.
As a consumer, YOU hold all the power. You choose to purchase an item or not make the purchase based upon price as well as, in my world 'extra baggage or packaging'. When you buy anything - you have to then live with the packaging it came in and the item itself. When I buy toys for my children for example, I ask myself constantly, "do we need this toy and if my 4 or 8 year old has to have it; can I recycle the packaging or is it all trash?" I have talked my boys out of a purchase because the packaging is horrible/too cumbersome/bigger than the toy/can't be recycled and adds to the cycle of buying crap and adding to a landfill. If a package is minimal and is 80% or more recyclable, I am WAY more apt to make the purchase. I often write to manufacturers of toys and tell them they need less packaging or at minimum make the package recyclable.
The other piece of 'think before you buy or toss' is the toss part. Depending on how you were raised and which area of the USA, you may feel like everything is trash and want to just toss it in the trash. You may also feel like everything still has value and should be recycled (that's how I think). If your parents recycled, you too recycle. If your family threw it all away.. well, you probably think to 'toss' first.
My hope will be after reading this no matter where you lie on the recycle vs. toss spectrum, you'll at least begin to think "is this recyclable?" "Can I recycle this item?" Please start to think about where you should put unwanted packaging, used up containers, junk mail, sacks and bags, planter pots, old plastic toys, writing utensils, batteries, liners from food items, or other 'stuff' you wind up dealing with at your home or business.
There are recyclable options for most hard-to-recycle items or just items if you honestly look for the solution. A great place to start is to have two containers in your home. One for all recycling that your local recycler or facility will process and your trash can. Make your trash can smaller than the recycling container - most of what you purchase on average can be recycled so start with that spacial aid and motivator. Place a sticker on your cans that make you laugh like "Ya.. recycle me baby!" "Win-Win" or "Bummer - you lose (sad face)" on the trash can.
The second thing would be to start looking into where you can recycle items like planter pots, and reusable containers or items you buy often that may be recyclable with a little extra thought. I like wine.. I had to think outside the wine box.. pun intended to recycle the liners and not feel badly about throwing away those containers. (Terracycle will take wine liners if you mail them in see TerraCycle | Outsmart Waste for more information and other items you may be surprised you can recycle!).
Research where you can take used batteries or old paint cans/unwanted still 1/2 full pesticides or chemicals you don't want any longer in your area (a house hold hazardous waste collection site) or where you might mail them if you live in the middle of no-where-ville.
The third, and last thing is to really start asking yourself before a purchase is "can I recycle this item?" If you really want an item and are sure it's not recyclable - ask the store to deal with the trash. I have gone to customer service many times with a purchase and said, I want this item but not the packaging.. will you help me remove my 'toy' 'item' and leave the trash to the store. If enough people complain about packaging to stores and more importantly to the manufacturer - they will make less packaging.
The goal here is to THINK before you buy or toss.
Tracy Bell - Copper, Glass and Recycled Trash
Tracy Bell makes innovative and colorful jewelry from the bits and pieces of everyday life that others throw away. Her creations take on a new and wonderful life when she assembles them in clever and artistic ways. She specializes in fun and funky glass bead jewelry, but her combinations of recycled wires and tiny tinwear are even more remarkable. See her creations on Etsy.
ANSWER: I use almost all recycled or repurposed items in my jewelry making, I love the challenge of finding a something old or unusual and having the challenge of making in to wearable art. I started making unusual items to wear in 2010, my friends and family are always on the outlook for strange stuff for me to include into my work. I look at anything small as a possibility from old light bulbs to tiny tins that use to hold meds. The biggest tip I can think of for finding great items is to have a great support system. I could never find all the items I use on my own. I have two people I have met through my searches that go to estate sales and they have an idea of the types of items I'm looking for so when they have collected a box full of items I meet up with them sort through the stuff and buy what I think may work. They give me first shot because they know I will pay what they are asking and I will make time to see the items as soon as I can so they can get on with selling what I don't want. My husband also is a great help, he is a project manager and does site dirt work, he brings home all the copper wire I use in my projects. I didn't set out to use recycled items it just evolved into this fun funky style. I started out in 2005 as a glass bead artist and ended up with a bucket full of beads and decided I had better learn how to make something out of them and that set the path to what I'm now doing.
Beth Terry - My Plastic Free Life • Twitter
ANSWER: I agree that it's important to recycle, but it's even more important to "pre-cycle," which means reducing the amount of stuff that has to be recycled in the first place. By choosing products that are reusable (reusable bottles, bags, containers, utensils, etc.), we can cut down the amount of single use disposable products and packaging we consume and thus save the energy needed to recycle them. Plastics, especially, are problematic when it comes to recycling because they generally are downcycled into secondary products that are not further recycled. Visit http://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/ for lots of ideas on ways reduce the amount of plastic in your life.
Jen Rustemeyer - The Clean Bin Project • Twitter
ANSWER: My top tip is to avoid packaging so you don't have to deal with the recycling end of things. Buying secondhand is a great place to start if possible.
ANSWER: If you haven't started recycling yet, start! If you don't produce much recycling, get a couple friends to go in on a bin with you to cut down on the cost of recycling. If you already do recycle, that's great! Take some time to push your state's legislature toward more aggressive recycling goals. If your state doesn't yet have a bottle bill, call your state representative and senator and ask them to sponsor one. If a bill is in the works, ask them to publicly support it. Until the recycling rate is 100%, we still have work to do.
Bea Johnson - Zero Waste Home • Twitter
ANSWER:What my family does to generate one quart size jar of trash per year is simple: As mentioned in my book, Zero Waste Home, we follow a set of 5R's in order. We:
1- Refuse what we do not need (for ex. single use plastics, junkmail and freebies)
2- Reduce what we do need (furnishings, clothes),
3- Reuse by buying secondhand and swapping disposables for reusables (that includes shopping with reusables such as cloth bags, jars and bottles),
4- Recycle what we cannot refuse, reduce or reuse
5- Rot (compost) the rest (fruit peels, lint, hair, floor sweepings etc).
So, contrary to what most people think, the Zero Waste lifestyle is not about recycling more, but less, by preventing waste from coming into our home in the first place!
The Recycle Scene - RecycleScene • Twitter
ANSWER: As for a top recycling tip in 2015, we’d say recycle every day. It doesn’t matter how big or how small your item is, just find a way. One of the major themes of our website RecycleScene.com is that small actions add up. Throwing something in the right bin, your trip to the recycling center, or mailing in an item to a national program- it all makes a difference. There are all sorts of things you probably throw out not realizing that there is a way to recycle instead and once you get into practicing every day, you’ll find your creativity around how to recycle grows and grows.
Stephanie Chamberlain - TerraCycle, Inc • Twitter
ANSWER: While not necessarily 'recycling,' composting is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the environment. Compost your food and other organic waste, like yard trimmings, if you can. As of the EPA's most recent report on Municipal Solid Waste, yard trimmings and food waste make up almost 30% of what we send to landfills every year. When organic waste rots in an oxygen-deprived landfill, it generates methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. "Composting diverts this organic waste from the landfill completely, providing you with a nutritive ingredient for your plants or garden in the process
Start looking at the waste you typically throw in the trash bin with a different perspective. It does not come down to ‘garbage or ‘recyclable.’ In fact, recycling should always be a last resort for any item or material. Before you throw something in the garbage bin, think about any possible alternative applications. Is it food waste? Maybe it can be composted. Is it a plastic container? Perhaps it can be upcycled into a desk organizer for your writing instruments. When you breathe life back into what was once considered garbage, it’s no longer garbage.
John Shegerian - Electronic Recyclers International, Inc • Twitter
ANSWER: As technological innovations increase, consumers must responsibly recycle their electronic devices in order to protect their digital security and the environment. This means making sure their chosen recycler is certified by e-Stewards and R2, as well as offers verification of data destruction. It’s to the benefit of everyone to make sure your devices don’t end up in the trash!
Nina - Empties Please • Twitter
ANSWER: My top recycling tip for 2015 is 'Recycle for Charity'
At Empties Please we recycle printer cartridge for schools and charity and donate the money raised back to them.
Lauren McKinnis - NC State Recycles • Twitter
ANSWER: That is a tough question! Here's our tip:
The Resin Code (recycling symbol with a number in it) commonly found on the bottom of plastic bottles, cups, containers, etc. does not necessarily mean the item is recyclable in your area. The code is there to identify the polymer that the item was made from. Check with your local recycling facility to see what types of plastics are acceptable in your area.
Tim Weaver - Custom Recycling • Twitter
ANSWER: One of the biggest thigns I tell people (scrappers) all the time is that if they want to make more moeny on their scrap then they need to prepare it so that all we have to do is put it in a box and it is ready to be shipped for melting. This can mean stripping the plastic coasting off copper wire, taking the steel screws out of their aluminum extrusion , or cutting your bulkky steel down to under 3ft x 3ft. The bottom line is the less work we have to do the more we can pay you!
Ellen O'Connor - York County Solid Waste Authority • Facebook
ANSWER: I think the most important tip is to make recycling a habit. Everyone in York County has access to recycling either at the curb (63 municipalities out of 72 offer curbside recycling to residents), and another 13 municipalities offer drop-off recycling programs either as stand-alone programs or in conjunction with curbside recycling. Become familiar with ALL the items that can be recycled and read your hauler’s newsletters to see when new items are added to the list. Teach other family members how and what to recycle. Be sure to rinse containers, remove caps and break down cardboard and paperboard. If you run out of room in your recycle bin, you can simply buy an inexpensive container at a home improvement store, write “recycling” on it and put it out with your other bin. The more you recycle, the more we save natural resources, reduce the waste stream and make something new out of material we already have.
Terri McClymont - Recycling Environmental Action Planning Sociaety • Facebook
ANSWER: Every single item counts! Recycling just one more item a day makes a real difference to our World. You can recycle in every room of your home and in your yard. During 2015, we are asking everyone to commit to recycling 1,2,3 or even 4 more items so they’ll be turned back into useful products reducing the need to consume natural resources. Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste that is ending up in landfills.
Anna Marikar - In The Playroom • Twitter
ANSWER: My top tip on recycling would be to get the children involved and come up with ideas together to re-use items that would have otherwise been thrown away. We recently made a recycling board game out of an old tissue box, and we have been crafting with lots of other empty packaging too like egg cartons or empty soda bottles. It's lots of fun, and a great way for children to learn early on that there can be another solution rather than just throwing things away.
Rajesh S. Desor - Adams Scrap Recycling
ANSWER: Recycling is for everyone. It's not just for "tree-huggers." It's not a political movement. It's not a fad, a trend, it's not a passing fancy. Recycling is an integral part of our conscience as a society. It's a component of our self-preservation instinct: we have to recycle in order for our future generations to inherit a planet that's not laden with toxins and stripped of its natural resources. It's up to each of us to share the responsibility, and to encourage our neighbors and friends to make an effort to waste less and recycle more.
Donna - Eco-Mothering.com • Twitter
ANSWER: Recycle that baby gear! New moms: except for a few safety items like car seats and breast pumps, most items (strollers, swings, clothes, toys) can be found gently used. This is great for the earth and your wallet, since most baby gear is only used for a few months anyway. Once your kids have outgrown something, recycle it again via donations, consignments shops, craigslist or swaps.
Nancy - Recycling in Hennepin County
ANSWER: Milk cartons and juice boxes should be recycled. Soup, broth, and wine cartons should, too. Thanks to new technology at paper mills the valuable, high-quality paper in cartons can be separated from the unwanted layers of plastic and aluminum.
However, frozen food boxes and ice cream cartons are typically not accepted because plastic is incorporated into the matrix of the paper during manufacturing. This added plastic helps protect food from freezer burn and ensures that the paper container won’t get soggy.
ANSWER: For every 5,000 phones that are recycled, we save 11,000 kilowatt hours of energy. But before you recycle or donate your “old” devices, erase your personal information from your device (step-by-step instructions). There are a variety of options from carrier- and manufacturer-sponsored initiatives to third party organizations, such as drop-off or mail back programs, websites and charity drives. If you're not sure where to recycle your wireless devices, such as cellphones or smartphones, all major carriers and many others will accept any device or accessory at their stores, regardless of which carrier provided your service.
Katka Konecna-Rivera - Living Green with Baby • Twitter
ANSWER: My advise/contribution would be to start promoting recycling from an early on, and raise a new generation that doesn't know anything else.
Mitch Hedlund - Recycle Across America • Twitter
ANSWER: Recycle Right: Recycling has been identified as the most important action society can do to help the environment, but only when it's done properly. Unfortunately everyday there are millions of tons of garbage thrown in recycling bins as a result of the public’s confusion from historically inconsistent and confusing labels on recycling bins. This contamination cripples the economics of recycling and prevents many companies from choosing recycled materials for use in their manufacturing. When manufacturers continue to use virgin materials, finite natural resources are rapidly depleted. Additionally, without proper recycling and reuse of materials, these otherwise valuable materials are actually increasingly plaguing waterways, oceans and sea life.
Proper labeling on recycling bins reduces confusion at the bin, thereby reducing contamination of recyclable materials. Recycling rates in the U.S. haven't improved in over 17 years. If we could double the current recycling rate of 34%, it would be the carbon equivalent of removing 50 million cars from the roads every year. The action of recycling right will create jobs, save energy, reduce waste, protect our oceans and waterways, and conserve natural virgin resources.
Recycle Across America (RAA) is a non-profit organization, which has developed the first and only society-wide standardized labeling system for recycling bins to help eliminate the public confusion surrounding recycling and to improve the economics of closed loop manufacturing. To date, many leading global brands are adopting the labels such as, Bank of America, Disney, Hallmark, NBC, SanDisk, thousands of K-12 schools and universities -- in fact, more than 750,000 standardized labels are displayed on recycling bins throughout the U.S. today. RAA and the standardized labels have been identified as a world-changing solution by Ashoka Global Innovators for the Public and are being referred to as “one of the most important environmental fixes taking root today.
Keith Blizzard - Green Blizzard
The Green Blizzard is dedicated to educating its readers about the size of their carbon footprint, and how to do something constructive about it. They have tons of information about saving energy, recycling, gardening, diet and sustainable strategies for green living. If you’re looking for practical advice about how to live better while contributing less carbon to the environment, you’ll find it here.
ANSWER: Every consumer product we use, whether its a car, cellphone, bottled water, or shampoo, all have various degrees of embodied energy that went into the manufacturing process. Every component required energy to make, which cast off greenhouse gases from the motors used to mine the materials, the motors used to refine the material, the motors used to build and ship the product - all of which are considered the embodied energy of your product.
So, the longer we can extract value out of any consumer product, the less greenhouse gas we emit over our lifespan. Recycling your junk car is a smart way to reduce the CO2 and other greenhouse gases that you emit. If your junk car can find a new home, or the parts can be re-used, or the scrap material can reenter the manufacturing cycle, every option will reduce your carbon footprint.
Mike & Micki - reCreate Design Co. • Twitter
ANSWER: When we were asked for our top recycling tips for 2015, images of reused and repurposed car parts danced in our heads. We are, after all, a creative reuse studio that has a car wash on one side of us and a car repair workshop on the other. Enjoy our tips - and of course, reuse those car parts!
Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to this awesome post of recycling tips.
And now it's your turn. What is your top recycling tip for 2015?