In the United States, we currently recycle only about 34 percent of our waste. A lot of people don't realize that recycling is not only good for the environment, it's good for your wallet too. Here are several easy-to-follow reuse, upcycling, and recycling tips that can help you save money, reduce waste, and become a more conscious steward of the environment.
1. Ditch bottled water and grab a recyclable filter.
As hard as it might be to forgo the convenience, forget about bottled water. Apart from generating a crazy amount of waste every single day, bottled water is often hundreds of times more expensive per gallon that tap water.
If you don’t like the taste of tap water, grab a water filtration product for your home. Brita and PUR are two great brands to choose from, and you can even recycle their filtration products by sending them into my company, TerraCycle.
2. Return e-waste to the store.
We all have piles of electronic waste sitting somewhere in the house. Whether it’s a junk drawer full of old cellphones or a circa-1995 cathode ray tube computer monitor, old and unwanted electronics can accumulate quickly.
Instead of throwing them in the garbage, see whether a retail location near you might accept them through an in-store return or recycling program.
Many retailers, such as Staples and Best Buy, will accept old electronics for recycling and reward you with discounts or store credit. Some stores will even refill your empty printer ink cartridges for an in-store discount, such as Costco’s inkjet cartridge refill service.
3. Make your own cosmetics and personal care products.
Why spend tens, if not hundreds of dollars each month on makeup products if you can reuse items around the house to make your own? You might already have the ingredients necessary to make your own cosmetics and personal care products at home.
There are plenty of recycling options available for the personal care waste you already generate, such as TerraCycle’s Personal Care and Beauty Brigade sponsored by Garnier, but reducing waste at the source by buying fewer products is always the greener option.
4. Search for free stuff to reuse online.
While most of us love the rush of a shopping spree at the mall, reusing secondhand products has less of a negative impact on both the environment and your wallet. You can even find free stuff being given away in your area by checking out The Freecycle Network.
This free online platform gives communities around the country a chance to list items, such as furniture or appliances, that people want to give away. The best part is that all listings are free, so you’ll never spend a dime.
5. Start composting.
If you have a green thumb, make the most of the food and other organic waste you generate by trying your hand at composting. It’s not as challenging as it might sound, and you can save a fortune on store-bought fertilizers by sticking to homemade compost.
Be sure not to compost materials like dairy products and fatty or oily foods, as they can attract animals and pests. Diseased weeds and plants, paper products with a glossy finish (such as photo paper or magazines), and sawdust from treated wood are also best to avoid, as they can contaminate your compost with fungus, bacteria, or chemicals.
6. Look into sustainable gift-wrap alternatives.
The holiday season is just around the corner! While strategizing about what gifts you’ll be giving your friends and loved ones this year, consider saving your money by avoiding store-bought wrapping paper.
Buying brand-new gift wrap can be tempting, but it’s often not recyclable and is generally used only once before being tossed. Instead, you can upcycle common items like newspapers, magazines, old posters, and roadmaps, or stick to more durable alternatives like reusable textile bags.
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