We Really Love Recycling Ideas
Importance of Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle
Most people appreciate the wonders of the outdoors and we all want to keep it wondrous. Obviously, because of the mountainous landfills and plasticized oceans we've created, it’s become an important issue to promote and embrace habits that enable greener, eco-friendly lifestyles. Two centuries of lousy housekeeping have taken a toll, and it'll take another couple of centuries to correct it. But we have to start somewhere.
Hikers, campers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts, are especially supportive of environmental initiatives. Many people don't realize that intense outdoorsmen such as hunters and fishermen, can be quite sensitive to the impact of environmental abuses on animals and the resources they need to survive. Serious hunters and fishermen only harvest food, and know to avoid doing harm whenever possible. In fact, some eco-friendly ideas below came from a lifelong hunter.
From plastic bags to old bike parts, there are countless things we subconsciously dispose of that could be turned into something far more useful than ecologically harmful trash.
Creative recycling ideas can help reduce your overall spending, and contribute to reducing the growth of overcrowded landfills and pollution. There are always great recycling ideas out there, but here are a few interesting suggestions to try that can give you the feel-goods about your impact on ecological sustainability, and save some serious dollars as well.
Eco-friendly Recycling Ideas
One of my favorites! Ziploc and Ikea freezer bags (among other brands) are remarkably durable, and can be reused quite awhile before degrading, not only helping keep plastics out of landfills and waterways, but saving you some serious pocket change.
This is way bigger than Ziploc coupons, trust me.
Wash by hand in warm (not hot!) water with antibacterial soap. Rinse thoroughly, then hang to dry. (Actually, I suspend mine upside down near the kitchen sink with cute dollar store clippies. You know ... bugs and stuff.)
Plastic containers with lids are a goldmine of reusable food storage solutions. Before running to the store to pick up new plastic food containers, ask yourself if there's a reusable container you can use that will work just as well. Frozen whipped topping and larger yogurt containers are great for storing leftovers, and can be sanitized on the top rack of your dishwasher. Remember, if the container came from the freezer case at the grocery store in the first place, it can be safely reused to freeze food again and again. It's been a long time since I've purchased new plastic food storage containers (I love frozen whipped topping and have lots of those).
The next time you polish off a bottle of soda or water, consider reusing it to contain pens or craft supplies, or start your spring garden seedlings. It is, or course, perfectly okay to dispose of plastic soda and water bottles in the recycle bin. In fact, many eco-friendly activewear items in the South Mountain Market catalog are made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
Plastic Grocery Bags
There is really only one correct way to recycle those wads of grocery bags, and it's not in your standard recycling container (recycling companies have been moaning about this ad nauseum).
Seriously, take those bags back to the grocery store. Most stores have a bin set aside to collect used bags ... just ask where it is. Recycled bags are picked up on a regular basis by companies that actually WILL process those materials to make a variety of new plastics, including clothing and of course, more plastic grocery bags.
Getting your bags of shredded paper recycled is tough. Most recycling centers won't accept shredded paper at all. Those that will, require it to be delivered in plastic bags that will end up in a landfill anyway.
The reasons are all about business ... recycling companies only want high quality long fibers that are deliberately cut in the shredding process. They will take your full sheets of unshredded paper, but that defeats the purpose of securing your private information. Businesses and large corporations have their secured documents picked up by Iron Mountain (for hefty fees), where the material is destroyed and prepared for delivery to a pulping mill, where the material is properly recycled. Iron Mountain says they process tens of thousands of tons of paper product every year.
Consumers on the other hand, appear to be stuck. But wait, there is a solution. UPS offers totally secure shredding services. Take whole documents to your local UPS Store and shred them there (no plastic bags required). Iron Mountain picks up the secured bins from UPS and takes the recycling process from there. It's an extra step, but very local, and and can be incorporated with your other errands.
I've seen some creative uses of this cute idea, and really like it. Showcase worn and imperfect hiking boots by incorporating them into your garden landscape. Hiking boot planters in a garden or on the patio are a nice way to personalize your outdoor space and add a little whimsy. Try spray painting old boots (or use brightly colored rubber boots), fill with dirt, a wee bit of your favorite natural fertilizer, plants or flowers, then hang on a fence or wall for a playful look in the garden.
If you have an old, unwanted tent languishing in a corner of the garage or shed, make use of the fabric, poles and other components. An old tent can become a play space, cut and sewn into a do-it-yourself hammock, or the groundsheet can be used to make a picnic seating area. Additionally, you can set aside sections of an old tent for patching and repairs.
Recycling Bike Tires and Tubes
What do you do after those tires wear out and can't be patched or repaired? Spent bicycle inner tubes can be used in hundreds of ways, including homemade rubber belts and wallets, replacement patio chair caning, or handlebar tape for your bike. Return old tires to specified recycling facilities that grind tires into 'crumb' rubber, used mostly for rubber ground surfaces on playgrounds, artificial turf fields, etc.
When we take the time to reuse, reduce, and properly recycle, we're taking first baby steps toward cleaning up and protecting our ecosystems, creating usable objects that will do the job just as well as brand new plastics, and actually saving a few bucks. Know whether or not your items are recyclable, and try to plan ahead before spontaneously throwing something away.