My Recycling Journey

recycling cardboardI hear a lot of people say, “I would recycle if I just had the space and the time. It just takes way too much time.” Not long ago, I was one of those people who just didn’t take time to recycle. As a teacher, I always encouraged my students to recycle their notebook paper, and I recycled my paper as well. We recycled our cardboard boxes and old textbooks. I was even known to bring some of my paper from home and recycle it as well, but I never really took the time to promote recycling in my home.

The more I became acquainted with Keep Cocke County Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, I started realizing just how important it is to recycle to divert items from being disposed of in a landfill. I knew that we as a family needed to take action, but how? I decided to start slow.

I began recycling ALL our paper, cardboard, and paperboard (that includes cereal boxes, cake mix boxes, you get the idea). Now, I don’t have a fancy recycling container. We started out just using a cardboard box; we have since upgraded to a reusable tote. I have one for cardboard and one for our paper and paperboard.

Recycle little girlAfter we got into the habit of recycling paper, paperboard, and cardboard, we began recycling plastics. Do you realize how much of your plastic can be recycled? Nearly 85% of the plastic containers in your home are types 1 and 2, and they are easily recyclable! We hardly ever have aluminum cans because we don’t drink soda, but we accumulate a few when we have guests over, and they get thrown into the recycle pile as well. I keep these containers in my basement. So instead of throwing my trash in the trash can, I lay it over to the side be put into the correct container.

Lots of people argue that they don’t have a basement. Well, must of us have a back porch. If you rinse the containers, animals will not be attracted to your recycling. Now the biggie is people just don’t want to take the time to put their recyclables into the correct bins at the convenience centers. It’s just too hard. I pull through throw my trash in the compactor, drive around to the other side, and throw my paper and paperboard in, my cardboard in, and then my plastics. It takes me about two minutes to do all this at the convenience center. We went from producing four bags of trash a week to one! All with the help of recycling.

Did You Know?

  • In the past, most waste was sent to landfill because it was cheap and space was available in old quarries. Landfill space can and will run out which is why it is so important to ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.’
  • About two-thirds of landfilled waste is biodegradable. This waste rots, decomposes and produces harmful gases (Carbon Dioxide and Methane), adding to global warming.
  • Unlike landfills (which simply stockpile trash) recycling removes waste completely, then turns it back to useful products. Recycling saves money, and in turn reduces the amount of trash going to the landfills.


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