The Zero Waste Trash Challenge: Better Recycling Goes Beyond Curbside

Adding recycling to errands you already do attaches a new habit to a bad one. 

Last month I encouraged you to part company with your trash can and set up a recycling center. That old faithful friend who has been happily eating your garbage for the past however many years needs to go if you are ever going to get your trash to a trim size zero. We also imparted the mantra “Wash and squash” for rinsing and compacting your recyclable materials, another skinny trick.

By now your recycling containers are probably overflowing at a rate that surpasses regular curbside pick-up. With summer temperatures soaring you don’t want to be hanging onto things much longer, so here’s where this month’s challenge comes in: It’s time to get out your calender for a little forward planning.

Let’s face it: there is little point washing, squashing and storing your recyclables only to make a special journey to the recycling center. By the time you’ve burned gas and belched out your carbon emissions into the atmosphere, you may as well have well kept your kitchen bin and chucked everything in the landfill.

So this month, take a look at your schedule. Peruse your calendars for work commitments, errands, gym visits, visits to friends and families and anything else you are doing. Do any of these take you past a local recycling center? You can find them via Recycle Now in the UK  or 1-800-Recycling in the U.S.

Once you’ve found the perfect opportunity, mark it in your diary or schedule it on your smartphone, then make a commitment to yourself and the environment. The next time you are going past a recycling center, you will leave your home ten minutes earlier and take your recycling with you.

It couldn’t be simpler.

You might be able to squeeze in a visit between pumping iron at the gym and picking up the kids or perhaps you can stop on your way home from work or the supermarket. By adding recycling to errands you already do this makes it more convenient and less likely that you’ll forget. One of the best ways to put a new habit into place is to attach it to something you already do.

For more from the Zero Waste Trash Challenge, check out:

First Stop: A Bin Audit
Just Say No (To Plastic Bags)
The Five Step Program for Better Recycling
Set Up a Recycling Center Based on Your Habits

Image: Signal Station; Gosia Malochleb, Peter Kaminski