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10 ways to improve your recycling

Tree Hugger

Recycling got its start almost four decades ago, when a U.S. paper company wanted a symbol to communicate its products' recycled content to customers. The design competition they held was won by Gary Anderson, a young graphic designer from the University of Southern California. His entry, based on the Mobius strip (a shape with only one side and no end) is now universally recognized as the symbol for recycling.

To many people, recycling conjures up the blue plastic bins and bottle drives. Part of the problem is that major companies like big bottlers of beer and soft drinks use recycling to shake off the responsibility of dealing with their manufactured packaging. But recycling is a design principle, a law of nature, a source of creativity, and a source of prosperity. For anyone looking to steer clear of corporate sponsored recycling and hoping to make recycling a more integral part of their lives, this guide is an overview of the basic legwork as well as some of the finer and more advanced concepts that have emerged in recent years.

To wit: "Recycling a ton of 'waste' has twice the economic impact of burying it in the ground. In addition, recycling one additional ton of waste will pay $101 more in salaries and wages, produce $275 more in goods and services, and generate $135 more in sales than disposing of it in a landfill." - From "Recycling: Good for the Economy, Good for the Environment."

ead on to learn more about how recycling is green, and how you can make your recycling greener.

Top Recycling Tips

First things first, a little R & R & R
The aphorism is so tired it almost might seem like "reduce, reuse, recycle" should go without saying. Most of us have only really heard the last third of the phrase, and they're ranked in order of importance, but there are several steps we should consider before recycling. Reducing the amount that we consume, and shifting our consumption to well-designed products and services, is the first step. Finding constructive uses for "waste" materials is next. If it's broken, fix it don't replace it! If you can, return it to the producer (especially electronics). Or better yet - don't by any packaged goods! Tossing it in the blue bin should be last. (The garbage can is not on the list, for good reason.) Through a balance of these three principals you can easily see your landfill-destined waste dwindle fast. A good example of recycling is setting your empty water bottles in the bin on the curb. But by using a water filter and reusable container you can reduce or completely eliminate your need for disposable plastic bottles.

Know what you can and can't recycle
Read up on the recycling rules for your area and make sure you don't send anything in that can't be processed. Each city has its own specifics, so try to follow those guidelines as best you can. But it can be more complicated than that. There's real recycling, and there's green-washed recycling and knowing the difference can help you avoid encouraging companies from 'fake feel-good' recycling. For example, Illy, the coffee company, began a capsule recycling program for its disposable coffee pods. The reality is that the 'recycling program' ships the capsules to another part of the country (hello carbon emissions!) and then downcycles the capsules to the lowest possible level. Their advertisements might make customers feel better about dumping capsules, but we know the truth behind the scheme, and it's not recycling at its best.

Buy recycled
The essence of recycling is the cyclical movement of materials through the system, eliminating waste and the need to extract more virgin materials. Supporting recycling means feeding this loop by not only recycling, but also supporting recycled products. We can now find high recycled content in everything from printer paper to office chairs. But make sure you know the difference between recyclable and recycled.Tetra Pak says the use recycled materials in their packaging, but only 18 percent of Tetra Paks get recycled - so the recycling looped is not closed.

Read the full and original article at Tree Hugger

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