There is no denying that the U.S. has a trash problem. Throughout their life, the average citizen will discard 600 times their weight in garbage. Think about that. That’s an entire auditorium full of waste! Not only is this horrible for the environment, trash removal is expensive. It costs the public nearly $50 per a ton to ship all this waste off to the landfill, and nearly $12 billion a year (a lot of it tax dollars), is spent tending to litter.
Below are a few ways to recycle, up-cycle, and re-use your trash so that you can start becoming part of the solution to this problem:
1.Turn yard waste into mulch.
There have been a lot of quick and vicious thunderstorms lately, we know. This means a lot of downed trees and ruined shrubbery that you’re probably tempted to drag out to the curb. But organic material is nature’s fertilizer, so if you have a garden, definitely save this waste and use it along with any cardboard you have to start a compost heap. (And even if you don’t have a garden, think of that neighbor with the rose bushes and earn some brownie points!)
2. Re-use packaging.
While it’s true that the mason jar has been adopted by hipsters nationwide as the poster-thing for recycling, there’s still a lot more we could do. Think about all of the coffee cans you could be up-cycling into shabby-chic vases, or the Chinese take-out boxes just ripe for recycling as sandwich tupperware. Then of course there’s the brown paper bag movement going on at places like Trader Joe’s–can we say “free painting canvas?”
3.Do we even have to talk about bottled water anymore?
We get it. Water bottles are convenient. And you always seem to lose your reusable one. But the plastic used to make water bottles is stuffing the landfills as we speak, so if you absolutely MUST buy a bottle of Dasani, you better be placing it in the recycling bin so that its plastic base can get reformed into another Dasani bottle somewhere down the line.
We’ve all heard the proverb “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” but we definitely haven’t internalized it. We’re such a consumer culture that we’ve been socialized into believing clothing more than two years old for example is “rags,” even if there’s nothing wrong with it per say. So the next time you’re cleaning out your closet or your box of out-dated DVDs, think about recycling these items in the form of a donation to Goodwill or Salvation Army. You never know what poor grad student is going to love your awkward fitting blazer, or how a clever preschool teacher can re-purpose old CDs into beautiful found art projects.
Please comment below with any more creative recycling ideas! Pictures are always welcome.