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Go Green! Your At-Home Recycling Plan

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A habit is something you do without thinking, but with all the new scientific research about climate change and global warming, people around the world are realizing that we need to change our throwaway habits and start being more ecological and conscientious. An at-home recycling plan (AHRP) sounds intimidating, but it's not. There are some easy ways to start making a tremendous positive impact on the environment, and you don't have to hug trees to do it. Pick one or two of the suggestions below to launch your AHRP. Baby steps, as our friend the FlyLady likes to say, baby steps.

Truncate the Trash
As Homer Simpson found out the hard way with his pet pig's poop, trash never really "goes out." The less trash you generate to begin with, the better.

  • Wash plastic bags. Hang them from a rope above the sink or try this trick -- a wet bag will stick to the window or wall like cooked spaghetti, and dry there nicely (plus, it will amuse your friends).

  • Rinse and reuse aluminum foil, glass jars, and yogurt containers.

  • Buy food from the bulk section of the grocery store (and reuse those handy rinsed containers).

  • Turn used paper into pads for phone messages and get your children in the habit of drawing on both sides.

Use Canvas Bags at the Grocery Store
Shoppers worldwide use up to a trillion plastic bags a year. Ouch, says Mother Earth. Plastic doesn't biodegrade and it's responsible for the deaths of millions of marine birds and animals yearly. Plus, the litter is unsightly. Most stores will give you a rebate for using your own bags so keep a stash of canvas bags in your car and buy yourself an extra mocha (use your own cup, please) with all those nickels.

Curbside or Drop-Off Options
Put recycling bins under the sink next to your trash can to get into the habit of sorting trash. If there's no curbside pickup in your area, find out about drop-off or even buy-back options (they pay you) at the local dump.

Start a Compost
Put a bowl or bin by the sink and put food scraps (except meat and cheese) in it as you do the dishes. Empty this compost into a bin (most cities and towns sell compost bins at cost) or, better yet, have your kids take turns emptying it. Add leaves or grass clippings as often as possible. It's as easy as that. Turning it once in awhile and watering it every now and then also helps. In six months to a year, you'll have nutrient-rich soil to add to your garden.

Buy Gently Used
We know how alluring new clothes and things are (retail therapy anyone?) but breathe before you buy. If you purchase used clothes and furniture you're reusing and saving money at the same time. Plus, used stuff doesn't come with all the packaging (especially if you bring your own bag to the store), which means you're generating less trash and being kinder to the environment.

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