Simple Ways To Be Environmentally Friendly in 2018

By Claire Hansen
Blog Content Contributor

It is officially 2018. In roll the countless sappy New Year’s resolutions we all obsess over for the month of January and then leave behind as normal life begins to pick back up. It’s true, this type of post isn’t anything you haven’t heard before, but it’s time someone grabs the reins on this whole save-the-earth business and gives us some real advice to follow in 2018.

Step up your recycling game.

It’s surprising how many “rules” there are when it comes to recycling, some of which the average person may not know about. They are not to blame, however– trash sorting can be tricky. Go the extra mile this year and think about the components of what you’re about to throw away. Can any of it be saved for a recycling bin? On the other hand, can everything you’re about to recycle actually be recycled? There’s a pretty big grey area, especially when it comes to plastics. Here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind when dumping your junk:

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Most neighborhood receptacles accept recyclables with labels 1-7. Photo by Claire Hansen.
  1. Any flimsy plastic, including films, wrappers and bags of any kind, cannot be recycled.
  2. Most hard plastic, i.e. disposable containers, lids, bottles, etc can and should be recycled, but they must be completely free of food debris, so give them a quick rinse first.
  3. Styrofoam can never be recycled under any circumstances, and is actually one of the most harmful materials to the environment.
  4. One of the most common items to be mistaken for recyclable, especially in a college town, is pizza boxes. Unfortunately, the grease that seeps into the cardboard makes them worthless, so go ahead and trash them.
  5. Many people practice recycling in their home with a basic trash can and trash bag setup. This is totally fine, but since trash bags are made of plastic, it is important to remember to dump only the actual recyclables into your community dumpster and not the entire load still encased in the bag. An easy way to avoid this extra step is by keeping a reusable bin for recyclables instead.

Pick up one piece of trash (that’s not your own) every day.

This is a simple, practically effortless way to not only help the planet, but make sure you’ve done your good deed for the day, too. There is trash lying around nearly everywhere we go, so the opportunities are more than plentiful. Think about it — if every single person did this, we’d clean up eight billion pieces of trash a day. Of course, make sure you’re throwing away all of your own trash, first! Ideally, there wouldn’t be any trash to pick up anyway. And on that note…

Reduce waste.

Knowing what to recycle and what not to recycle is very important knowledge to have, but there are also a few key ways to cut down the number of things we have to toss, making the job of sorting that much easier. Here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Try to minimize the use of straws.
  2. Carry your own reusable cup/bottle to use in place of a disposable one.
  3. If you’re packing a lunch, bring silverware from home.
  4. Use dish towels instead of paper towels or wipes when cleaning.
  5. Keep reusable grocery bags in your car to use whenever you shop.

It’s still more crucial than ever to keep turning off the lights when you leave and attempting to take quick showers, but learning and adopting new ways to do our part is just as significant! Take recycling to the next level and hang on to your items until the next opportunity you have to recycle them, instead of just trashing them for convenience. Hopefully, at some point, there will be recycling bins accompanying every trash can. It’s quite striking that not all of these practices are common knowledge, but just because the rest of the world hasn’t caught up yet, doesn’t mean you can’t lead the way.

Featured image by Claire Hansen.

 

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