Whenever I look at the sad “recycle” cousin bins standing lonely and empty by the common trash bins it hits me hard. I feel like it is waiting to narrate the story of why being the logical option means you are always going to be friend-zoned. I mean taking out a bag of garbage is tough enough when parents randomly come to visit and now a secondary container for recycling?
Even writing this sentence was a waste of time and space just like those ”recycle” trash cans. But if you wake up one day and some video like this one
in your Facebook feed inspired you to be slightly more considerate towards earth, then you can use these 5 ways to encourage your family too to take up recycling. Well, honestly speaking it is either this or probably your family portrait in a few years will be set on top of a landfill backdrop.
The ‘R’ factor
Recycling alone is like loading up on proteins alone to build up. It can never be enough to achieve the magical transformation that we hope to witness on earth one day. You need to workout ample and relax enough to make it happen. Similarly, the three ‘r’s – reduce, reuse and recycle function together to make the transition on earth happen.
In fact, recycling is the last resort after reducing and reusing various products at home. So understand that recycling is not just about getting a big bunch of beer bottles processed into a fancy science mug. Nor does trying to make ashtrays from old boxes and bottles alone count.
The triangle of trash
The way to go about recycling is to know more about the material you use every day to understand the purpose and efficiency of recycling. For example, knowing the grades of plastics will help you make a healthy choice for both your home and the environment.
Plastics used in all the takeout boxes and in say a PVC pipe is quite different in grades and they can both be recycled but a different number of times. So there is a possibility all the takeout boxes you dumped over the years pile up and trash earth completely. Look for the recycle triangle on items you purchase to know how many times it can be put through the recycling process.
Don’t buy because it is fancy
Understanding a product before buying is important for us to know if we can buy something simpler that would be sufficient. In many cases, such decisions will help us reduce the wastage. Try to fix what is broken rather than replace it with an exception in case of a bad breakup. Avoid using packaged material unless absolutely necessary.
Cooking may not amuse you but it could be a little light on the pocket and the environment. Make wise choices when you buy things like buying a reusable bottle rather than a pet bottle. For instance, if you are a chemistry wizard, like Heisenberg, choose laboratory equipment such as a volumetric flask, made of good quality glass only for all your experiments. The glass laboratory equipment can be recycled efficiently several times without causing much harm as in the case of plastics. You don’t want the world to go Breaking Bad, now do you?
Do not reach for the blue bin unless it is absolutely necessary and the only way. Remember that the three steps need to work in balance with each other to be beneficial and hence do not try to choose one of the three.
How to get your family on your side?
This is going to be impossible if you want to be a hypocrite and mix all the garbage into one bag before you take it to the trash can. So, practice what you preach.
1. Know what things around your house can be recycled
Just like you take a subtle sneak at the prices on shopping aisles make sure you peak into understanding the nature of the material too. Know which of these can be recycled or reused and which of them are simply use and throw. Try your best to choose recyclable materials that you can repurpose at home.
Also, teach kids (if any, yet) how to use any product completely before you throw them out. Show them how to squeeze every last bit of toothpaste or ketchup from the tube, I know they’ll hate you for this, but trust me it is a wonderful life lesson. Only sensitive stuff like small masks used for sedation should not be used multiple times, unlike other non-medical tools. Make sure both the sides of all the papers are used before you give them out for recycling along with the old phone books, cardboard, envelopes etc. Or you can step into the real world and use your phones and laptops instead and go paperless.
2. You do not have to think out of the box
Think before you throw is probably the best slogan you and your family should abide by. Your spring cleaning routine could be good for your house but definitely not for the neighbours and the environment if you dump a trash can full of old light bulbs and batteries. Pick an old box and save them for later when you can visit your local bulb stores which might have a system to recycle. Keep this as a thumb rule before you make a mixed garbage bag of old cell phone and bad pizza. Search online to find out local recycling centres for electronics to avoid throwing them into another landfill.
3. If you don’t love then let go – Take or toss day
Well, it is fun to pile up stuff year after year in our closets and revisit them one day when they all come crashing down like all the old trashy gifts your ex-forced you to be happy about. Like recycle, reuse is also a keyword of significance to the environment. Have one day every year as the decision day where you can play a game of ‘take or toss’.
If it is old and high maintenance then toss it along with the nostalgia. Give away every bad shopping decision you have made to donations where they won’t know who made the bad decisions. Nothing goes to the trash bag unless you completely give away anything that can possibly be used by someone else.
4. Buy recycled products and initiate the ripple effect in the neighbourhood
Being the guitar guy is such as cliche way to be the talk of the town. Instead be a person who buys recycled goods. Neighbourhoods usually tend to catch hold of trends like this, especially if you are a hot single living in a tight community, who knows every juicy gossip from next door.
Giving a new life to an old product is a great cause and by buying recycled products you encourage such initiatives too. You can also create local recycling events or participate in one which could be a great way to meet nice new people (wink).
5. Play the “who picked the right bin” game every day with children at home
If you were lucky enough to find your woman through some local recycling event, then continue this tradition of recycling stuff with your kids as well. Make colourful and bright recycling bins at home and teach kids to separate while they dispose of their waste. Make sure you reward your kids when they throw them in the right bins.
In a fun way tell your kids the importance and necessity of following the three ‘R’s system and how it can make the world better. Encourage your kids to spread this behaviour among their friends at school and do the same with your work colleagues.
Water is another important area where you need to apply the 3 ‘R’ principle. Reduce water usage to a minimum- bathe with your partner, ah! what a fun way to save water and the environment.
Reuse the water you use for washing vegetables to water plants. Make sure you have an efficient system at home for recycling water and teach the importance of water conservation to kids. Discuss their thoughts about how we should inculcate recycling at home and in this way, they will share an interest too in the purpose. Maybe a special screening of Wall-E could help.