Living Green on a Budget: 3 Easy Steps to Start Recycling

As a young professional who has just started living on her own, I understand the difficulties of living a truly “green” life. Sure, I’d like to buy products that are better for the environment, but I struggle with their often higher price tags.

Through my experience, however, I’ve learned that recycling is a cheap and effective way to reduce your carbon footprint, and it’s much easier to get started than you may think.

Here are three quick tips to help you start recycling today.

#1: Know where you can recycle.

This is common sense. If you don’t know where to recycle, you can’t recycle. So, what are your options?

Many garbage collection companies will also pick-up their customers’ recycling for an additional cost. This is a convenient option, because it doesn’t require much of a change in your daily habit and each week you can just place your recycling out on the curb, right next to your garbage.

Though curb-side pick-up is convenient for people who don’t have much time on their hands, the extra cost can hinder those of us who are trying to be green on a budget. For us penny pinchers (and those who live in apartment complexes with no recycling option), there is still hope. In the spirit of “going green,” some garbage collection companies have designated recycling points where anyone can drop off recyclable items any time of the day (or night). There are many websites that list recycling locations, and the best way to find them is to search for “Recycling in [your area]” through any search engine.

On a side note… for those of you who already recycle, performing this Internet search can still be helpful. After moving into my new apartment, I thought I had found the closest recycling location about 20 minutes away from my home. A couple of months later, however, I searched for “Recycling in Cincinnati” and after skimming the sites that came up, I realized that there was a drop-off location right down the street from me!

If you really want to stretch your dollar, there are also many aluminum recycling plants that will actually pay you for your aluminum cans. The pay-out can vary by location, but it is generally based on the combined weight of the cans. Again, if you want to see if there are any locations that offer this bonus near you, a simple Internet search should let you know.

Additionally, if you live in one of the 11 states that participate in container-deposit legislation, you may bring your used bottles and cans to an authorized redemption center in return for the recycling deposit initially paid upon buying the product. Though in this case you are only getting your deposit back, many people attempt to earn money this way by collecting discarded pop bottles and cans to turn in for a recycling deposit.

#2: Learn the rules of recycling.

Once you figure out which recycling method works best for you, you need to learn what you can recycle. Most recycling services only accept certain items — such as plastics of a specific number (usually #1 and #2). In order to truly have a positive impact by recycling, you need to know (and follow) the rules that your recycling service has.

Signs are often posted near drop-off points that clearly state that if something that doesn’t belong is found in the recycling, the entire batch is considered “contaminated” and nothing will be recycled. Pick-up programs usually list something similar in their terms of service. Failure to follow the rules, then, not only impacts your ability to stay green, but may also affect other recyclers (without them even knowing it).

#3: Find additional recycling opportunities.

Once you’ve mastered the two basic recycling tips, you can move on to alternative recycling methods. Though recycling rules can limit what types of items you may be able to recycle through traditional means, the Internet is a great way to find out about additional recycling opportunities in your area.

Preserve Products, a company based out of Waltham, Mass., is a great example of the types of nontraditional recycling that can be found on the Internet. In addition to selling various hygiene and household products created from recycled plastic, Preserve Products also offers to recycle a specific plastic that is often on many recycling services’ “No-No List.”

Through it’s partnership with a handful of markets and stores nationwide, Preserve Products has created the “Gimme 5″ program, which allows individuals to drop-off their plastic #5 items in recycling bins found at the stores. The items are then recycled in order to create the products sold on the company’s website — toothbrushes, razors and plates are just a few of the items for sale. If there isn’t a “Gimme 5″ retail location near you, you may also mail your plastics directly to the company, though it doesn’t reimburse for shipping.

This is just one alternative recycling option that I’ve found. I’m sure there are many more out there, and if you know of any others, I would appreciate it if you would let me know about them!

Regardless of whether you pursue additional recycling opportunities through the Internet or not, the most important thing is to get started with basic recycling today. It’s a cheap and easy way to keep our planet clean and reduce the amount of trash sitting in landfills.

More from this Contributor:
Shopping Tips from a Non-“Extreme Couponer”
Fun with Volunteering: Opportunities in Cincinnati & Nationwide
Ohmstead 2011: How I Successfully Survived a Music Festival

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *