Recycling: Trade Your Habits In For Better Ones

25 Things You Didn't Have To Throw Away Today


Recycling isn't just about throwing your newspaper in the recycling bin once you get to work. It's about a series of small choices throughout the day, which lead to one big difference in the health of the planet once those days add up into weeks and years. There are countless ways that you can make tiny changes in your behaviour, which you'll barely even notice, but that will change the health of the planet while setting a good example for others.

RELATED: 15 Easy Things You Can Do To Be Green In 2015

Check out this list of 25 things that you may have already thrown away today, and see how many times over you're guilty as charged, and how easy it would be to trade your habits in for better ones tomorrow!

  1. Paper or Styrofoam Coffee Cups. Get a reusable mug instead! Most coffee shops are happy to fill it up for you.
  2. Paper and Plastic Packaging from Take-Away Food Items. Request minimum packaging (the wax paper around the danish, inside of the paper bag, inside of the plastic bag holding the rest of the items you've purchased—may be overkill).
  3. Plastic Water Bottles. There's no excuse not to refill a made-to-last drink bottle to reduce waste.
  4. Makeup Removing Wipes, Cotton Balls, and other Hygiene Items. Although small, a washcloth or rags, such as pieces of old t-shirts, are far more eco-friendly.
  5. Spoiled Food. Keep it out of the landfill by starting a compost pile, investing in some Tupperware, and not over-buying at the supermarket.
  6. Nylon Stockings. Unless you are interested in some of these craftier uses, the best bet here is to reduce by not using stockings, or investing in pairs that last longer than one or two uses, since they take 30 to 40 years to decompose in a landfill.
  7. Plastic Bags. Take cloth bags shopping with you. Some even come folded to pocket-sized now, so there's no reason not to carry one with you. 
  8. Paper Towels and Paper Napkins. Use tea towels and cloth napkins at home to reduce waste.
  9. Razor Blades. Sharpening razor blades, or at least using a plastic razor with a changeable head, saves tons of unnecessary plastic waste per year.
  10. Printer Cartridges. These can be refilled at places like office supply shops and even some pharmacies.
  11. Soap Dispensers. Refill dispensers instead of buying ready-to-use plastic ones.
  12. "Individually Wrapped" Packaging. Avoid tiny tissue packets, individually wrapped snacks, and other such items.
  13. Broken Electronics. If beyond fixing, be sure to dispose of electronics—like televisions, batteries, and cell phones—at proper drop centres (many retail stores now offer this service), as they are highly toxic in landfills.
  14. Broken Shoes. No need to get rid of old shoes, cobblers can mend them for a fraction of the price of new shoes, and charitable donation centres happily accept shoes in any state. 
  15. Unwanted Clothing and Textiles. As above, these should always be properly donated. If you are unsure about what types of clothing can be recycled, ask a local clothing store that specializes in sustainable clothing.
  16. Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles. Most people simply toss plastic into the trash when it's a hygiene item. Rinse the bottles out and put them with other plastic recyclables on the curb. Try to use products in eco-friendly packaging. 
  17. Salt and Pepper Dispensers. Always refill wooden or metal dispensers instead of buying the single-use plastic or cardboard dispensers.
  18. Condiments. Just because condiments are sticky and difficult to remove, doesn't justify tossing out the plastic container they come in. Soak the bottle overnight with warm water and soap, then simply rinse clean and recycle. 
  19. Paper Towel and Toilet Paper Tubes. There is often no recycling bin in the loo, so these items get tossed in the rubbish. Keep a separate small bin in there for recyclable items if you find this inconvenience keeps you from recycling.
  20. Toilet Water. Is your toilet eco-friendly?  If you can't afford a water-conscious toilet, look into reducing the water in the tank by other means. It takes little more than a teacup to achieve a proper flush. 
  21. Bath and Shower Water. Showering takes about 7 gallons per minute of water. The average is about 74 gallons of total water used per day per capita. Do the math on a 10 minute shower. Taking shorter showers helps, as does installing a water-saving fixture.
  22. Dish Water. Dishwashers overuse water, as does leaving the tap running while washing dishes. Dish tubs or self-dispensing scrub brushes can reduce the amount of water used.
  23. Light Bulbs. Not only are light bulbs toxic when disposed of incorrectly, they can be recycled at many home repair stores just by dropping them off.
  24. Makeup. Makeup has the double danger of being toxic and utilizing a large amount of plastic. Many environmentally friendly companies today recycle plastics and products. Check out the website for your favourite brands to find out how to return unwanted or fully used cosmetic items, including mascara, lipstick, and nail polish. 
  25. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste Tubes. Although impossible to clean and dry, toothpaste tubes can be recycled. 

For helpful information about your area, and for more tips on recycling everyday items, check out the helpful resources at Earth911.

Click here to find out what to do with your non-recyclable and hard-to-recycle trash. And check out these 12 TED Talks about the environment.

Deborah Jones is a content creator and an article, press release and blog post writer who enjoys the freedom of working from home. She is well read and driven by her passion to bring effective and highly engaging writing to a larger audience. She  loves chasing stories about people and contributing to nutrition, real estate, music, investment, fashion, and photography blog sites.