Environmental Home Remodeling for your Bedroom, Kitchen and Beyond!
Table of Contents
Experts estimate that about 70 percent of trash in the United States can be recycled in one way or another. Unfortunately, only about 30 percent is recycled. Thus, a significant amount of refuse that arrives at landfills reaches this destination needlessly. Many items in landfills will take hundreds of years to decompose, which causes serious space issues and other hazards such as harmful gases entering the atmosphere and ground. Instead of throwing these items away, it’s possible to recycle paper, glass, and plastic to keep them out of landfills. Recycling also conserves natural resources such as energy and trees because these resources are used to produce recyclable materials. Practices such as repurposing products and composting are also beneficial for people and the environment.
Traditional Methods of Recycling
Standard recycling practices include separating out items such as plastic, glass, metal, and paper and placing them into containers for recycling. Waste collection companies pick up these items to take them to a facility for recycling into new products.
Recycling paper products has a positive and direct impact on the environment. By recycling paper, trees are conserved because they aren’t needed to create new paper products. A wide variety of paper types are suitable for recycling, including coffee filters, egg cartons, masking tape, and some types of bandages.
- Paper Recycling Facts: Producing Sunday newspapers involves pulp from about 500,000 trees.
- How Many Times Can You Recycle Paper? Used paper is mixed with water to turn it back into a pulp before turning it back into a recycled paper product.
- Paper Recycling Questions: The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that paper makes up about half of all recycled products collected in the United States.
- Products Made From Mixed Paper: Mixed paper includes unwanted mail, food boxes, and shoeboxes. These items can become paper backings for shingles, new paper towel tubes, and new paperboard.
- Recovering and Recycling Paper Saves Energy: Using recovered paper to make paper products uses less energy than using new wood pulp.
Many consumers find plastic recycling confusing. Plastic products have numbers on them that indicate the type of plastic they are made of and how these items can be recycled. The codes are designed to facilitate sorting at recycling facilities and to ensure that the different types of plastic are melted down correctly for future use. The most common plastic items recycled include water bottles, milk jugs, and detergent bottles.
- Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling Plastic Bags and Wraps: Plastic bags can be reused and repurposed to reduce the waste of these items.
- Plastics Recycling: Challenges and Opportunities: Plastic is inexpensive and durable, which makes it a popular material for many different purposes. Recycling plastic reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing and reduces accumulation in landfills.
- Recycled Plastics in Food Packaging: Concerns exist about the use of recycled plastics for new products that come in contact with food.
- Recycling Plastic: Complications and Limitations (PDF): Recycling plastic is more difficult than paper, metals, and glass, mostly because of the wide array of different types of plastic in existence.
- Why Can’t All Plastics Be Recycled? The ability to recycle all plastics is limited, mostly because markets for these recycled materials don’t exist or are too far away.
- Avoiding Plastic Beats Recycling: Although many types of plastic are now recyclable, consumers have a more positive environmental impact if they simply avoid plastic products instead.
Glass is also recyclable. However, the procedure for recycling glass and the types accepted vary based on the rules of local recycling facilities. Most facilities that accept glass for recycling take glass beverage bottles, baby food jars, and some types of colored glass. Glass differs from other types of recyclable materials because it can be recycled over and over again without any loss of clarity or quality. Facilities that possess the necessary equipment can recycle glass quite easily, and the entire process, from recycling to producing a recycled glass product, takes less than a month.
- Glass Container Recycling Loop: The glass recycling process involves collecting items, separating them by material type, transporting them to a glass processing company, sorting by color, selling the glass to container manufacturing companies, and making the material into new items.
- How to Recycle Glass: Recycling glass is quite simple, and even broken glass is recyclable.
- The Glass Facts: Glass in a landfill will take 1,000,000 years to fully decompose.
- How Glass Is Recycled: To recycle glass, the items are crushed, melted, and molded into new products.
- Recycling Glass: How it Helps the Environment: New products made from recycled glass can include drinking glasses and glass fiber.
Getting Creative With Recycling
Although it’s typical to think of standard recyclable objects such as plastic, glass, and paper when the topic of recycling comes up, there are other ways to recycle as well. Instead of throwing old clothing away, people can donate these items to be used by other people. Freecycling involves giving items away to other people who can use them. For example, instead of throwing away a used mattress, it could be donated for use by someone who can’t afford to buy a new mattress. Meanwhile, reusing materials in art projects is a creative and environmentally friendly way to create artwork for people of all ages.
Children tend to outgrow clothes before they wear out. Instead of throwing these clothing items away, families can donate the clothes so that people who are less fortunate can use them. Whenever clothes are outgrown or a fashion trend passes, the fabrics contained in clothing can be reused in a number of different ways. For example, old sweaters can be used to make a new blanket or pillow.
- Textile Recycling: Discarded clothing makes up a significant portion of textile refuse that lands in landfills.
- How Not Recycling Old Clothes Can Hurt the Environment: Organic textiles decompose readily in landfills, but synthetic textiles take much longer to decompose.
- What Can You Do With Used Clothing Not Suitable for Donation? Clothing not suitable for wear can be recycled in clothing recycling bins instead.
- How Does Recycling Your Clothes and Shoes Help Protect the Earth? Recycling textiles helps reduce the need to burn fuel to process fibers to manufacture new cloth.
- How to Sell, Donate or Recycle Your Old Clothes: Options for repurposing clothing include selling it, donating it, and turning it into other items.
Freecycling is an effective way to save money and minimize your impact on the environment. Freecycling involves giving away old items so that other people can continue to use them. Many communities manage freecycling forums with members donating items for other people to use. The benefits include saving money, reducing clutter in the home, and keeping items from accumulating in landfills.
- Empty Wallet? No Money Necessary With Freecycle.org: Freecycling is an effective way to dispose of items without throwing them away.
- Freecycling Has a Viral Effect on Community Spirit and Generosity: People participating in freecycling often derive satisfaction from knowing that they are helping others and minimizing their negative impact on the environment.
- Five Small Tips That Make a Big Difference (PDF): After cleaning a home, people can get rid of items they no longer need or want by freecycling them.
- How Freecycling Works: Freecycling programs are typically managed by local groups.
- History and Background Information: The Freecycle Network consists of more than 5,000 groups around the world with the purpose of giving away and getting items free to keep these things out of landfills.
People of all ages enjoy making artwork from recycled items. Many schools have programs that involve collecting recyclable materials for students to use in their art projects. This process saves the schools money and reduces waste in landfills. For example, schools often collect egg cartons, paper towel rolls, newspapers, empty cans, and plastic containers.
- 14 Animal Art Projects Made With Recycled Materials: Children can enjoy a variety of different art projects, making animals using recycled materials such as old CDs, plastic bottles, and toilet paper rolls.
- How to Easily Remove Bottle Labels for Crafts: Removing bottle labels to repurpose glass bottles is easy using hot water, a sharp knife, and rubbing alcohol.
- Recycled Art: A recycled art project might involve egg cartons, food containers, empty soda cans, and more, which students can use to make sculptures, mobiles, jewelry, and other items.
- From Trash to Treasure: Reusing Industrial Materials for School Art Projects: The Trash for Teaching organization collects and distributes recyclable materials to schools for students to use in art projects.
Composting involves gathering natural waste products and allowing these materials to decompose in either a pile or a container. Once the materials have decomposed, the resulting compost is used to enhance soil in gardens. Composting not only helps the soil, but it reduces refuse in landfills. Using natural compost in soil also helps eliminate the need for chemical soil enhancers, which can damage the environment.
- Composting Tip Sheet: Composting involves collecting materials such as grass clippings, coffee grounds, and vegetable scraps to produce compost.
- Turn Your Spoils Into Soil: Composting is the process of breaking down organic materials such as kitchen scraps.
- How to Compost: Composting involves mixing brown and green materials with air and water to produce rich compost.
- Composting and Food Scraps: Items that can be used for composting include eggs, coffee grounds, and raw or cooked vegetable scraps.
- Backyard Composting: A compost pile can be as simple as a pile in the backyard where food scraps and grass clippings are thrown.
Worm composting is similar to standard composting except that the process involves worms. As the worms consume the food waste, they produce a material known as vermicompost. Making vermicompost tends to happen more quickly than standard compost, and it is applied in the same fashion in gardens.
- Worm Composting: Using worms to break down materials generally makes the decomposition process take less time.
- A Simple Guide to Vermiculture (PDF): Plastic storage bins are ideal for worm composting, and these bins can be stored easily in the garage or basement.
- Food Composting Made Easy (PDF): Worm compost contains rich nutrients that help make garden soil better for growing plants.
- Overview of Vermicomposting: Worms need a cool and moist environment to thrive in a vermicomposting bin.
- Kitchen Waste Composting With Worms (PDF): Worms just need a sturdy container, bedding, and kitchen waste to begin producing rich compost for gardening.
- What Are We Wasting?
- Why Recycle?
- Top 10 Reasons to Recycle
- The Benefits of Going Green
- Go Green and Save Green