recycling, Sustainability, Uncategorized

Recycling Habit Changes: Then to Now

“Practice makes perfect” –I’m sure most people have heard this quote at least once—or a million times in their life.  Well… I’ll add another time to that list because that’s exactly what this blog post is about. J This week I’ll be elaborating on how my recycling habits have changed over time, usually resulting in a much more pleasant time to be had by all: me, my SO who helps me sort it when we take it to the recycling center, and the employees at the recycling center who have to sort out everybody’s recycling to make sure it’s placed correctly.

Here are some before and after’s that I felt were noteworthy:

BEFORE: I used to stare at the two weeks (sometimes more) of unsorted recycling with a distant look in my eyes, trying to recruit roommates/my SO to help me organize it, while knowing full well I will most likely end up having to organize most of it myself. Even offering to make breakfast didn’t work either! It used to take an hour or more to sort through it all before we even left the house to then organize it even further at the recycling center.

AFTER: Every few days, or when noticeably getting messy, I organize the recycling in about 5 minutes. Recruiting to finalize the organization before taking it to the recycling center is NOT a chore, and my SO/one of my roommates doesn’t mind jumping in to help when it’s recycling day. Overall MAYBE takes 15 mins… I’ll take it!


BEFORE: Again we used to keep it in a disheveled pile that amounted to just that. Taking it out to the car was almost a nightmare! Multiple trips for something we ultimately should have been making in one, two tops just wasn’t working out.

AFTER: Now I use current recycling to organize the rest of the recycling. I’ve touched on this before, but it has helped tremendously for organizing and transporting it to the recycling center. Using boxes to put cans in, old six-pack carriers to put glass objects in, etc. The organization of it changes each time, which I personally think puts a bit of a fun spin on it. It’s like real-world Tetris!


BEFORE: When at the recycling center we would sort of just guess when we put the items in the bins. Yes there were the obvious green, clear, brown glass, cans, cardboard, etc. but the plastics are where it gets tricky. There’s Plastics # 1-7, and in some areas certain #’s go into different bins. It all depends on the area you live in, so YMMV on that one. We just kind of put things where we thought they went and hoped for the best. This was not the best plan of action because it ended up creating more work for the people who worked there. We weren’t trying to do any malicious harm of course, but sometimes ignorance is not bliss.

AFTER: Before taking the recycling to the center, we organize it into categories by number. We simply drop it in the appropriate numbered bins because according to the signs they are supposed to go in those respective bins. We learn more about the recycling center and how it works each time we go thanks to the people who work there.

Employees are always close by and are intuitive in asking if anyone needs help when people are unsure of where to place something. It’s so nice to have approachable people to help when needed because not only is it good for the environment, but it’s always nice to know you’re helping make someone’s job/day go a bit smoother. We of course have more to learn and will get better as time goes on, but it’s nice knowing how far we have come.


BEFORE: When already at the facility we would remove the lids from the bottles/jugs as we were placing them in the appropriate bins. This would take up more time and occasionally mess up the flow of others trying to organize their recycling if it was a busier day.

AFTER: We take the caps off of containers as they are put into the recycling at home. It saves so much time in the long run because the caps can easily be removed on the walk to put the item in the bin.


BEFORE: The recycling was CRAZY huge after two weeks. It was a tedious task to organize/take it, and originally not as fun to do so. If we skipped a week and waited three weeks, oh boy no thank you! We would still take it of course, but it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable.

AFTER: Now we are making more responsible choices to reduce the amount of recycling we take in the first place. Prior I mentioned we usually take it after two weeks because it was piling up, but now three weeks can go by and it’s still manageable. This is in part to it being organized already so it doesn’t take up as much space, but even after the recycling was organized prior you could tell there was much more taken each time.

Really there is no fully streamlined and efficient way of recycling… you’ve just got to take things as they come. With anything it gets easier over time. Making decisions to reduce the amount of recycling produced is ultimately the goal. I like to take a look at the recycling as we are organizing it and noting what produces lots of waste and seeing if there are ways we can reduce or even completely cut something out. Sometimes that means finding a less wasteful alternative, other times it means to stop using certain products completely. Other times there’s occasions where multiple friends are over for games/celebrations and there’s so much recycling that time. Life is fluid so be mindful of your use, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself too.

Sustainably Yours,



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