It’s 2016, and we’re supposed to be well past this point. Recycling has been in the local and national spotlight for decades, yet millions of Americans and businesses aren’t doing their part. In particular, they’re making mistakes that can only be chalked up to a lack of consumer education.
Consumer Education is Key
Whether its customers or businesses, recycling education is a key component of high participation rates. According to Will Flower, president of a New York-based recycling company, “Good recycling education programs explain, inform, motivate, persuade and encourage people to recycle. Such education is needed to change behavior and to create a culture where the benefits of recycling are understood and the specific ways to recycle are clear.”
The key word Flower uses is “culture.” Businesses need to have a culture that focuses on sustainability if they want recycling to become a priority. Unfortunately, far too many businesses are looking at sustainability as an afterthought.
4 of the Most Common Mistakes
So, what mistakes are businesses making? Well, it’s hard to generalize things, but it’s clear that the following mistakes are most common:
- Not Recycling Appliances
It’s imperative that businesses recycle heavy equipment and machinery, such as office appliances and devices. Unfortunately, most businesses simply pay for them to be taken away and tossed in a dump or landfill.
The smart solution is to donate old working appliances to local organizations that can use them, or take them to thrift shops and stores that sell secondhand goods. If the appliances are irreparable, finding a recycling center that properly strips and salvages parts is ideal. Then you can purchase more efficient appliances that will last for years to come.
- Improperly Sorting Trash
It’s amazing how many offices around the country don’t properly sort trash and set up recycling bins. While it may seem like a small thing to throw a single plastic bottle into the trashcan, these small choices compound over the days, weeks, and years.
On average, 90 percent of office waste in the workplace can be recycled. The good news for businesses looking to start recycling initiatives at work is that there are plenty of resources available. It’s also possible, depending on the industry the business operates in, that there could be financial incentives and kickbacks for adopting sustainable practices.
- Not Sorting Shredded Paper
Shredding office paper and business documents is great for recycling, but businesses need to separate the shredded paper from other materials. Labeling the bag “shredded papers” will almost always be adequate or the local recycling facility. However, if papers are shredded and not separated, this actually gives the facilities more work to do.
- Not Investing in Sustainable Packaging
Perhaps the biggest problem areas for businesses – at least when it comes to sustainability – is their inability and unwillingness to develop eco-friendly packaging. According to Mark Dancy, president of a waste reduction company, companies have their priorities out of whack. They often focus on, “How will this drive consumers to my product and how much does this cost.” Environmental sustainability comes in a distant third, showing that it’s a less important concern for businesses.
The worst packaging blunders go to chip bags, single serving products (such as yogurt cups), toothpaste tubes, and many plastic bottles. As the ecommerce industry grows, it’s also troubling to see products shipped in a second box…and sometimes even a third one.
It’s critically important that businesses identify their packaging shortcomings and look for ways to become more sustainable. Recycling should be a priority, not an afterthought.
Make Smart Recycling a Priority
Smart recycling habits have to become a priority for modern businesses. It all starts with developing a culture that respects sustainability and expands from there. As a business, you should start by examining your own situation. Are you making any of the mistakes referenced here? It may be time to reevaluate your processes, and make recycling a priority.
Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness
Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.
How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature
Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.
While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.
When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness. Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.
4 Practical Ways to Disconnect
If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:
1. Switch to a New Phone Plan
It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.
One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.
2. Get Rid of Social Media
Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).
If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.
3. Create Quiet Hours
If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.
4. Build Community
Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.
As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.
Untether Your Life
If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.
6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move
Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.
6 Tips for a Greener Move
Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.
1. Maximize Each Trip
When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.
If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.
2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep
The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.
3. Reuse Moving Boxes
Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.
4. Get Creative With Packing
Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.
5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies
Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.
6. Forward Your Mail ASAP
Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.
Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful
Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.
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