By: Emily Newton
Understanding the importance of recycling is crucial in today’s world. Suppose you’re concerned about the planet, its sustainability, and keeping items out of landfills. In that case, you may already know about all of the benefits recycling can provide.
However, members of your community may not care about recycling or may not know why it’s important. So, how can you encourage your community to participate in recycling?
Unless people grew up in homes where recycling was common practice, it’s not as likely that they’ll be avid recycling enthusiasts right off the bat. You can take a few steps to promote recycling within your community.
Let’s explore some ways you can encourage members of your neighborhood to recycle more often.
The Importance of Community Recycling
The ultimate goal of community recycling is to make the planet a better place for everyone to live and thrive. Recycling plays a significant role in creating a healthy, clean, and united community.
These are some of the common benefits of recycling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
- Cuts down on waste entering landfills and incinerators
- Saves energy
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need for new raw materials
- Create jobs in recycling and manufacturing industries
- Conserves natural resources
- Increases economic security
- Supports American manufacturers
- Conserves valuable resources
Some additional benefits include improved air and water quality, supporting local economies, and preventing high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. When communities prioritize recycling, it directly reflects their desire to lead high-quality, healthy lives and create an environment in which to do so.
How Recycling Works
The three steps of recycling are collection and processing, manufacturing, and purchasing products made with recycled materials. Engaging in these three steps creates a continuous loop, which is where the famous green recycling symbol comes from.
Collection and Processing
Materials are collected in several ways. This may include curbside collection, deposit or refund programs, or drop-off recycling centers. Once materials are collected, they’re sent to a facility for sorting, cleaning, and processing.
Materials are transformed into materials that can be used for manufacturing. Recycled materials are bought and sold similar to raw materials, but it all depends on supply and demand within the country.
Many products today are being manufactured with recycled materials. Some products that are often made using recycled materials include but are not limited to:
- Paper towels
- Steel cans
- Plastic detergent bottles
- Aluminum and plastic
- Glass soft drink bottles
Some recycled materials are even used to pave roadways, manufacture carpets, and create park benches. New ways of using recycled materials are constantly being developed.
Purchasing Recycled Materials
When you purchase products made with recycled materials, you’re helping to close the continuous loop of recycling. When shopping, keep an eye out for products that Can be recycled easily, snd Contain recyclable materials. Here are some examples of products that contain recycled materials:
- Car bumpers
- Egg cartons
- Glass containers
- Trash bags
- Motor oils
- Cereal boxes
- Comic books
Preventing common materials from entering landfills is beneficial for the environment. Landfills damage the environment in more ways than one. If left unchecked, certain chemicals can contribute to climate change, which many countries are trying to mitigate.
It can be confusing to understand what products are recyclable and which are not. For example, most metals are recyclable, with some exceptions. Paper, plastics, and most cardboard can be recycled.
Your local recycling program will have more information about what can be recycled. Consider doing some online research or speaking to leaders in your community about what can and cannot be recycled.
Tips for Encouraging Community Recycling
While the average consumer can certainly play a role in building a more sustainable environment, communities need to come together and make recycling a priority — the more people who engage in recycling, the more everyone benefits. Here are some tips if you’re looking to positively impact your community through recycling.
1. Create a Petition to Add Community Recycling Bins
When people are out and about in the community, seeing recycling bins can help encourage them to dispose of their trash responsibly. Making recycling bins easily accessible is the perfect way to emphasize recycling.
Sometimes, people will turn to littering instead of disposing of perfectly recyclable materials, mainly because it’s more convenient to toss them on the ground. When there are more places to recycle, there’s no doubt that more people will dispose of their materials properly. If there are no community recycling bins, consider creating a petition and have your neighbors sign it by going door-to-door.
2. Promote Recycling Awareness
Educating others about the importance of recycling and being mindful of all kinds of waste can help raise awareness and hopefully influence more people to recycle. If you stress how easy it is to recycle properly, people may feel more inclined to participate in your community’s recycling efforts.
Many online resources can be used to help you promote recycling awareness. Consider giving a presentation at the next town meeting or contact your local government leaders to see how you can promote recycling awareness.
3. Build a Community Recycling Team
It’s worth mentioning that if you are trying to encourage community recycling, you’ll need the support of other people living in your neighborhood. Consider contacting your neighbors and seeing if they’d be willing to help your efforts in building a community recycling team.
You can also speak to local businesses and other organizations in the community to discuss why recycling is necessary. If you can earn the trust of your neighbors and other members of your community, they’ll be more likely to take part in any recycling efforts you try to implement.
4. Lead by Example
It’s important to realize that people often don’t like being told what to do. Screaming from the rooftops to encourage everyone to recycle may not give you the results you’re looking for. Instead, lead by example and make sure you’re following the best recycling practices.
When people see others recycling more frequently, it can also influence them to participate in recycling.
Keep these tips in mind when encouraging people in your community to recycle. While many people are caught up in their daily routines, it’s worth explaining just how easy recycling is and incorporating it into their lives.
Prioritize Recycling in Your Community
While it may seem like a daunting task, there are plenty of ways you can encourage those around you to learn more about recycling, what materials are recyclable, and understanding just how important recycling is for the planet and their well-being.
It’s always suggested to raise the issue of recycling to your local government as well. Good luck with all of your recycling efforts, and know that you’re taking the right steps to make recycling a priority!
Bio: Emily Newton is a journalist with over five years covering the environmental sector. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she also covers the many ways technology is changing our world.