Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Week One--Making Paper Recycling Second Nature

One of the easiest ways to make paper recycling become second nature is to have supplies on hand and routines in place as they relate to paper disposal. This way when you go to get rid of any paper, it will end up in the recycling and not in the trash. Here's how I've managed to make it easy on myself to always recycle my paper.

Before I started using reusable bags for grocery shopping, I had my groceries packed in brown paper bags. (Truth be told, if I'm running short on time and need to do some web grocery shopping through ShopRite from Home, I'll still request that my groceries be packaged in brown paper bags.) Because of this I have a hefty supply of these bags, which I reuse as my paper recycling receptacle. I keep the bags stored in a specific kitchen drawer. This means that whenever I need a new bag for recycling, I know where they are--and I'm never left searching for a bag or frustrated because I've got nothing to put my recycling in, so therefore I don't bother recycling. (In addition to brown grocery bags, paper department store shopping bags and the bags that folded shirts come in from the dry cleaner also work well for holding paper recycling.)

In addition to having a designated spot for storing these bags, I also have a designated spot for opening the mail--and it just happens to be near my shredder. This way when I receive one of the six billion credit card solicitations that Americans get every year, I can feed that unwanted mail right into the shredder. When the shredder is nearly full, I'll empty it into a tie-top plastic bag (a leftover plastic shopping bag, most likely), and then put it out with the rest of the recycling.

For catalogs and magazines, I make a pile and then distribute them to one of the magazine racks I have in our bathrooms. (Nothing like a little potty-time reading.) Then, once a week, when I empty the trash and collect the recycling before trash and recycling day, I'll thin that reading material, and put them in those aforementioned brown paper bags with the rest of my paper recycling. (I learned this weekly magazine purge trick from FlyLady's Weekly Home Blessing Hour!)

If I find myself with overflowing amounts of paper recycling, long before trash/recycling day, I try to avoid storing the paper recycling outdoors. Why? In the past, when the paper bags have gotten wet in the rain--and then disintegrated as the recycling collectors picked them up--I usually ended up with a paper-strewn street. I should have called the trash collection company to complain, but instead, I've carved out a recycling corner inside, between my kitchen and dining room. It's dead space, really, so it wasn't being used well anyway, but sometimes even that space isn't big enough to store all of our recycling.

That's why when paper recycling really starts to pile up, I'll load the bags of paper in the car and take them to the Abitibi Paper Retriever dumpster at my daughters' school. I've mentioned these before, about how schools used them as a fundraising tool. I say it's win-win: it gives local people a place to recycle their paper, and it provides a green way for the school to raise money for its activities.

So how can you adopt similar habits?

First, create a designated spot where you can store your paper recycling and/or supplies.

Second, get into the habit of regularly contributing to your recycling, either by opening mail near the shredder like I do or clearing out catalogs and magazines on a weekly basis.

Third, always put your paper recycling out on pick-up day.

Fourth, if you find yourself with an overflowing amount of paper recycling, find an alternative drop-off location, such as the aforementioned Abitibi Paper Retriever.

Just these four simple steps done regularly should make paper recycling second nature for you in no time.


Frugal Duchess said...

Congrats on your new blog.
It's a great idea.
I'll be a regular visitor.
Take Care,

Leah Ingram said...

Sharon: Thanks for stopping by!