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Photograph by Peter Kaminski, Flickr

Five Ways to Make Recycling Pay

America Recycles Day (ARD) is today, November 15; it is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling. Although this is a step in the right direction, we need ARD to be every day.

The average American throws away 1,600 pounds of trash each year. That’s 4.4 pounds daily! Recycling is actually the easiest way to address some of our environmental issues. In addition to conserving natural resources and reducing energy usage to make new products, recycling can help fight global climate change. By diverting materials away from the waste disposal systems like landfills and incinerators, you help reduce pollution and greenhouse gases that are released in the process.

In addition to the environmental benefits of recycling, it pays in many other ways. Here are just a few ways that recycling can give back to you, your family, and even your wallet:

Turn electronic trash into cash. 70 percent of the toxic waste in landfills comes from electronics; but you can actually recycle old electronics for cash and avoid additional strain on the planet. Sites like www.gazelle.com or www.YouReNew.com will pay you for laptops, cell phones, chargers and other items. Your older model iPhone could be worth upwards of $200, but even older electronics have value.
Make it a family activity: Post a recycling diagram on your refrigerator so your entire family knows what belongs in the recycling, trash and compost bins, and assign the job of “Recycle Cop” to your kids. They can make sure that all paper products (like old homework!), glass, hard plastics, cans, even plastic toys make it in the right place.
Make your own fertilizer: It takes 18 years for one corn cob to decompose in a landfill, but only a couple of months in a compost pile! Create a compost pile in your backyard, or get a green bin from your local garbage man if you don’t have one already. The backyard compost pile is a great activity for the whole family – once it turns to soil, kids can help plant a garden. You can actually save hundreds of dollars a year by growing your own veggies. Here is some info on how to get started.
Inspire: NatureBridge is a non-profit focused on connecting youth to the natural world and inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards through environmental education. We just launched www.MyGarbology.org, a website for all ages that can be used in and out of the classroom to teach kids how to reduce waste and be more aware of their impact on the environment. It is a fun tool for teachers and parents to get kids involved in sustainable actions such as recycling, composting, reducing toxins and saving water.
Get rewarded: Recyclebank rewards people for taking everyday green actions, including increasing your household recycling. Go to www.Recyclebank.com to see if they are in your town, or look for other ways you can “do well by doing good” on their website. An average Recyclebank member can save over $130 a year through discounts, coupons and deals in their rewards program.