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At Home

5 Easy Steps for Home Recycling

Want to do your part to save the earth? From small things like turning off the tap while you brush your teeth to major improvements like installing solar panels, there are a ton of different ways to have an eco-friendly home.

And recycling is another great way to get started, especially since many municipalities require it. Get started with this guide for setting up a recycling system in your home.

How to Set Up a Recycling System at Home

Taking on a zero-waste policy within your home can bring dramatic change to your community. It may not seem like much at first, but if you consider the impact made if everyone in your community recycled, the difference could be staggering.

Suppose you recycle 20 plastic bottles every week. If 60 homes on your recycler’s route did the same, 1,200 plastic bottles would avoid going to the landfill. Now consider a whole neighborhood of 1,000 homes and that number jumps to 1.2 million plastic bottles saved from a similar fate, every week. It’s clear that small changes make a big difference.

Research what’s recyclable in your area

Reach out to your local collection center and request that they email you details on items they accept or reject. Often, they’ll post what materials they recycle.

For the items that your recycling center won’t take, like some electronics or batteries, do your best to locate a different drop-off spot that will accept them. Check online and with your local municipality on paint and chemical disposal drives that occur seasonally. Also, remember some items can be collected and turned in for cash, like aluminum cans, bottles and more!

What items can be recycled?

Most recycling centers will accept the following items:

  • Paper and cardboard
  • Glass bottles
  • Rigid plastics
  • Aluminum and tin and steel cans

Check Your Trash for Recyclable Items

What kind of items are you tossing? Your garbage habits will determine the type and size of recycling containers you’ll need. For example, if your current recycling bag is filled with large milk jugs, you’ll want a larger bin for plastic recycling.

Make sure you know how to recycle properly

Just because you put an item in the recycling can, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be used. On your local recycler’s website, they’ll typically offer up details on what you’ll need to do to ensure that the items you’re recycling will qualify for use at the processing plant.

Recyclers will usually identify the accepted recycling codes that are typically found on most recyclable materials.

How to recycle paper

Almost all paper products are recyclable. From photocopy white paper to newsprint, it’s all able to be recycled. Paper’s about as easy as recycling gets. Newspapers, magazines, paper packing materials are best stored flat in your bin which can help prevent extra trips to the recycling can outside.

How to recycle glass

Getting glass prepped for recycling will usually require a rinse, inside and out. Be sure to clean out any food residue from the interior of glass products, but don’t worry about peeling labels off them. Use caution when placing glass items into the bin in your home. Glass can break easily and increase the risk of cuts or scrapes.

How to recycle plastic

Most plastic bottles will need to be rinsed and dried before recycling. After drying is complete, crush the bottles and return the cap to the head of the bottle to prevent it from re-inflating. Note that the pumps from liquid soap bottles are not typically recyclable.

How to recycle cardboard

Because most cardboard stock is usually in the form of a box, you’ll do best by breaking down the box first. Pull the tape off and discard. Cardboard boxes and some card stock items are fair game. In general, you can’t recycle pizza boxes or other paper products that have been exposed to oils or fats.

Some recyclers have specific requirements on how they’ll accept cardboard. You may need to bundle cardboard into manageable parcels with twine. Check with your recycler for details and instructions.

How to recycle aluminum

Gather up used aluminum foil, rise it off and recycle it. Steel and tin cans should be rinsed out and dried before discarding into your bin. Aluminum cans should be rinsed inside and out, allowed to dry upside down and carefully crushed if possible, to save space.

Make home recycling convenient

In order for you to actually use your home’s recycling system, it’s important to make it as convenient as possible. Typically, your system would involve two parts — everyday disposal and weekly or monthly disposal. The first part would be located in a spot where you generate the most waste — usually the kitchen.

This spot should be as easy to reach as the trash can and, ideally, right next to it for an instant reminder. And while sorting is a necessity when it comes to recycling, you can make it second nature by getting a divided container to instantly sort whatever comes its way.

Where to store your recycling bins

After your kitchen bins get full, empty their contents in an out-of-the-way spot until it’s time to for them be brought to the curb or to the recycling center. The garage, mudroom, laundry room or a rarely used closet are great storage spots. Lastly, make sure lugging recyclables to the curb is easy by buying receptacles with wheels.

Now that you’ve got a home recycling plan in place, you can focus on making your home as waste-free as possible. And recycling isn’t the only way to eliminate waste. Making sure your home’s appliances and systems are operating efficiently can help save you money and use less energy.

Homeowners Coverage You Can Depend On

If you’ve recently replaced the plumbing, electrical or heating system in your house, you may be eligible for a discount on your homeowners insurance. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent to learn how your home improvement efforts can benefit you.

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