Top 11 recycling tips for your business (and home)

Take a few minutes to read our favorite environmental tips.

Everyone, both business owners and individuals, should be doing their part to help protect the environment and by taking some of these steps you can help out. Here are our top 11 recycling tips.

  1. The first is an oldie but a goodie – Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. This is one that should be automatic. We should reduce what we consume and shift consumption to well-designed products. Reuse – finding constructive uses for waste materials. Recycle – chances are we have the blue bin in our homes or offices but better than recycling would be to cut down on items that need recycling. For instance, rather than buying bottled water in disposable (even if they are made from recycled materials) bottles, filter your water at home and use reusable containers.
  2. Encourage the artist. If you know of anyone who uses recycled materials in artwork offer it to them. Many schools use paper towel rolls for projects – keep that in mind and ask your local school if they could use the items. When making purchases, look for items that are made from recycled paper, earth-friendly glues, paints and pencils when possible.
  3. Know what can’t be recycled. Make certain you fully understand your community’s rules on recycling and follow the guidelines.
  4. Shop for recycled products. Recycling is cyclical – you buy recycled, you in turn recycle that product, use it and then return it to the recycling chain.
  5. Don’t forget the greenery. In the book, Cradle to Cradle, authors Michael Braungart and William McDonough write about two categories of waste – technical and biological nutrients. Biological nutrients are those that, once they have outlived their use, can safely and readily decompose and return to the soil. Composting is an example of biological nutrients and is one of the most effective and simplest recycling methods. Garden cuttings and green kitchen waste can be used in either indoor or outdoor composters. If you don’t have a compost plot of your own, ask your neighbors, chances are they would welcome your waste. You can certainly recycle/compost materials from your office – take home with you what can be composted.
  6. Recycle water. As a homeowner, you can rearrange your plumbing so the rainwater or wastewater from the shower or tub is used to flush the toilet. If you have a garden, water it with leftover bathwater or dishwashing water (only if you use biodegradable soap).
  7. Electronic recycling. With electronics taking over our lives, battery recycling is necessary – consider buying rechargeable batteries, but remember they, too eventually need to be recycled. Take advantage of your community’s hazardous waste recycling days. Computer parts are toxic to the environment and must be recycled correctly – ask your local computer shop the “hows” and “whys” of recycling no-longer-used electronics.
  8. Donate items you don’t use. If you have items you haven’t used, consider donating them. Join Freecycle and Recycler’s Exchange – your trash may be another’s treasure. Check with your local Goodwill or church organization to see what kind of items they will accept for donations.
  9. Prepare for recycling. Make certain when you buy items, they are from recycled material but also think about how you will use the package once you’re done using the product.
  10. Conduct a waste audit. Give yourself a timeline of a week or a month and take the time to see what kinds of waste you bring in – and send out of – your house or business. Design a material recovery program to minimize the amount of waste going to the landfill. Involve your employees and family members.
  11. If you’re still using an on hold message player that uses tapes or CDs, trade it in for a new MP3 message player. That way, there’s no plastic to throw out when you change your messages on hold. All your on hold messages are emailed to you.

When it comes to recycling, start small, pay attention to the everyday items that you consume and see where and how you can cut back on your trash.