- Jun 14, 2018
Who hasn’t used paper at least once in their life? I know I use it regularly, from taking down notes to reading books, through to visiting the porcelain throne. Every room in our house has one form of paper product, and every business, institution, and industry uses tons of it on a yearly basis. Paper is highly recyclable, yet our consumption of it has resulted in at least 25% of solid waste generated by the US alone.
In this time of climate change and widespread pollution, you might at some point wonder “What can I do?”. The sad truth is that we can’t go on the way we’ve been doing without caring about how our actions affect everyone else. Recycling is a viable first step because it is a global practice, and it’s actually a huge industry all over the world now. There is no reason not to start right this moment, what with abundant tools and resources to help you.
And the best thing about it? You can actually make money from recycling old paper! Here’s how.
First, learn how to recycle properly
People think that recycling can be done in a snap and that it doesn’t take too much time and effort to do so. I’m here to tell you that it does take some time and effort, even though it isn’t a very difficult activity to integrate into your daily life. The EPA website has a page dedicated to recycling alone, and it’s an excellent source to know how to reduce, reuse, and recycle items at home. There are links about recycling basics, as well as resources for educators, and what you can do to help the entire community learn how to become responsible recyclers.
Have dedicated paper recycling bins for easier segregation
One of the biggest problems I encountered in our neighborhood is that the people here aren’t inclined to segregate garbage. Ours is an “old” neighborhood, you see (old in both demographics and town history), so we have a lot of senior citizens as neighbors. A lot of them already need help going about, so asking them to carry their reusable paper and cardboard waste to a dedicated location would be thoughtless and insensitive.
What we did (the ahem, “younger” members of the neighborhood) was to install paper and cardboard recycling bins in public places like the park and recreation center where older folk like to gather and frequent. Every time there is a gathering or someone pays these places a visit, the bins are highly visible and legibly marked so they know where to dump their paper and cardboard waste.
Collect old recyclable paper in your community
If nobody else has done it yet in your neighborhood, why not be the eco-friendly pioneer? I’ve started a paper and cardboard collecting route every Sunday with my son in our mini-truck, and we go around the neighborhood helping senior citizens haul their recyclable stuff at the back of the vehicle. They have come to expect us every weekend, and I’m happy to report that they have learned how to segregate the reusable paper and cardboard waste so it’s easy for us to pick up and collect.
I’ve also gotten in touch with local businesses like diners, offices, and others so I can schedule the best pick-up dates for their paper and cardboard waste. Restaurants and offices used to be the biggest producers of paper waste in our community, but I’m glad to learn that the local diner now encourages customers to bring their own reusable containers for takeaways and that the two businesses in town are slowly getting rid of most of their paper documents and relying more on digital files.
Use a recycling app to stay motivated
It can get tiring - recycling for my family and the community daily, I mean. To keep motivated, I rely on a mobile app to remind me why I do this, why so many people are doing it as well, and why I should keep doing it. If you want to start today, here’s a list of helpful recycling apps for you:
iRecycle - provides access to recycle over 350 materials in the USA
RecycleBank - allows you to earn points for “living green”
Gimme5 - more for recycling plastic and toothbrushes, but gives a gift coupon to their store for helping to recycle
Visit your local paper recycling center
A ton of recyclable paper or cardboard can earn you anywhere from $50 - $75, which isn’t a lot, but it’s the motivation behind it that is truly rewarding - at least in my honest opinion. You not only contribute to the preservation of trees and the reduction of carbon footprint, but you also encourage the healthy and sustainable practice of reducing consumption of paper products and overall waste.
If you’re having trouble finding the nearest recycling center in your location, RecycleNation might be of help. This website and app aim to increase responsible recycling practices all over the country by pointing users in the direction of the most accessible recycling center in their neighborhood. You can type what kind of product you want to recycle, then put in your zip code, after which the database will give you a location to where you can drop off or mail in the stuff you wish to recycle. The app also has helpful tips and articles about recycling and environmental issues in general.
Recycled paper or cardboard boxes have become the symbol for the responsible consumer these days. Wasteful consumption is so last season, as my teenage daughter would tell you. I’m proud to see her wrapping gifts in reused paper and bringing her own eco-bag for shopping.
Is recycling paper a profitable activity though? I am here to tell your right here that it is not. You can make some money from it, but the real motivation should be on how to reduce your carbon footprint and influence others to do the same. The extra earnings should just be a reward for responsible and sustainable habits.
Do you recycle paper and other reusable products? What are the resources and tools you use to stay motivated and make recycling a part of your daily life and in your neighborhood? I would love to learn from your experiences.