Before You Toss It, Ask, "Can it be RECYCLED?"
♻️ How to make it a RECYCLING HABIT ♻️
You've found where to send your recyclables, picked ONE recyclable to focus on, and set up your simple recycling location in your home. You've covered the 3 basics of setting up your recycling habit! Now it's time to turn action into into habit by RETRAINING YOUR BRAIN.
Before you toss anything into the trash, ask yourself one simple question: "Can it be recycled?"
Now we are REALLY going to blow your mind...you can throw the item away, even if you answer "yes." We know, it sounds counterintuitive - throwing away something that COULD be recycled? Why would you DO that?
Well, unless the item would cause immediate harm by not being recycled (for example, no matter what, lithium batteries should ALWAYS be recycled, no matter what, because they can explode and/or easily catch on fire), the point of this exercise is to get you into the HABIT of always asking yourself if something could be recycled. This way, as your habit progresses and you have more systems in place to recycle more items, you will already be in the habit of pausing prior to tossing to ask yourself if something is recyclable and then can use your new system to recycle that item!
This pause and ask will also help with your current recyclable. For example, perhaps you decided to start your recycling habit by just tackling mixed paper. You may be in the habit of bringing in the mail and tossing the junk mail directly into the trash can. By pausing and asking, you can redirect your junk mail tossing from the garbage to the recycling. Pretty soon, you won't need to ask yourself whether or not junk mail can be recycled - you will be in the HABIT of putting it right into your recycling bin or bag.
BONUS: You may find that you're answering "yes, but" to the "can it be recycled" question a lot - and that might make you feel bad about what you're throwing away. Use that guilt to help you gently reshape your buying habits! Can you purchase something without packaging (ie use a reusable bag)? Can you reuse something you already own instead of purchasing new? Can you use food scraps in a new way? And so on.
This material is based upon work supported under a grant by the Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Rural Utilities Service. Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc., is an equal opportunity provider and employer.