Updated: Nov 17, 2020
This probably seems really obvious, but do you check your packaging when you throw stuff away? From fruits to veggies, drinks, pancake mixes, and holiday gifts--your items are likely coming to you in some kind of packaging (obviously buying in bulk with reusable bags/containers is best, but trickier during COVID). For your company, it might be weekly office supplies, ink cartridges, or K-cups for the kitchen.
If the box, bag, tin, or container has a triangle or a recycling symbol on it, you need to set it aside instead of tossing it into the regular waste bin. The GOOD NEWS is even produce bags made of plastic are often recyclable. An example of this is seen with potatoes from Progressive Produce. Their plant-based bags are made of sustainable materials and can be recycled. But if you don't read the packaging you might not catch this.
Here are a few tricks to make it easier.
Raise your awareness:
1) Set up a sorting station. It just means the in between spot. For me, it's the counter space on the right of my junk mail (you could add a bin or just designate a flat surface). In your office, make sure to label this space--it could say "Sorting station for Recycling" or "Let's Go Green Together." I don't always have time to read the packaging (but I will later), so I leave empty packages there instead of tossing them immediately into the trash can.
Perusing the packaging later works great (and it's better than digging through the regular trash can--which I also do). Sometimes, you just have to tear off an address label first (like with Amazon Prime packages); then toss the rest into the "blue" bin. Also, check out Amazon's Second Chance program--great for recycling your packaging.
For packaging that seems recyclable at first glance, you might notice a line through the recycling symbol, which means you SHOULD NOT RECYCLE the packaging. Bummer but true--so reach out to that company on their "contact us" page and ask if they can change their packaging--nothing wrong with the soft nudge of capitalism and the power of your dollar.
Perhaps one family member or your office manager at work could get on board for doing the sorting task; they could even make an organizational chart where members or colleagues take turns sorting (stickers could make this fun; these ones are cool too). She or he could also check regularly purchased items to see which ones already use recyclable packaging (let's support those companies/products).
Remove obstacles to recycling:
2) Set up a purgatory station. This one is a big cardboard box I set right outside my door to the garage. I put recyclables I have already sorted into this spot. That way, if I'm in my PJs and don't want to walk outside to my "blue" bin yet, they're clean and secure--ready to go outside when I get the chance.
Your company might have a big bin outside the office, but what about including a medium-sized one in the kitchen area as well? Most people have good intentions, but they may not be willing to walk the item(s) out to the larger bin outside (especially if it's raining or snowing).
Too much--silly even? Why implement these way stations anyway? I think the answer is obvious! We get lazy and throw stuff in the trash instead of A) reading the labels, and B) taking it out to the recycling bin(s).
These two little steps help with that. So, give it a go, and let us know how it works for your family, school, or business. Also, reach out if you need a little help. That's what green idea labs is all about (email@example.com). #recycling #COVID #gogreen #letsgogreentogether #ElonMuskPleaseJoinUs