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1RECYCLE ALL POSSIBLE MATERIALS

This action focuses on evaluating the waste which you create everyday and closely examining what materials are recyclable that you might not realize.

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recycle-all-possible-materials Pie Chart

why?

While recycling is still not a perfect system (more information), it is still much better than simply disposing of materials which could be reused. Many people recycle commonly-collected items such as paper, aluminum cans, glass jars and #1, 2, and 3 plastics, but there is a large percentage of additional materials which are recyclable but less commonly known.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not all materials which are 'recyclable' are actually recycled. The percentage of materials which are actually recycled is as follows:

  • Auto batteries: 99.2%
  • Office Type Papers: 70.9%
  • Yard Trimmings: 64.7%
  • Steel Cans: 62.8%
  • Aluminum Beer and Soft Drink Cans: 48.2%
  • Tires: 35.4%
  • HDPE Natural (White Translucent) Bottles: 29.3%
  • Glass Containers: 28.0%
  • PET Bottles and Jars: 27.2%

(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Many people may be surprised to see what materials are recyclable in their area, whether they can be picked up with other typical recyclables or must be dropped at a specific location. This action focuses on taking an inventory of typical waste and getting in the habit of recycling all possible materials in your area.


how to do this action:

STEP 1: COLLECT

Collect all non-organic trash for one week. Sort into 'known recyclables' and other.

STEP 2: INVENTORY

Inventory all trash which would typically be thrown in the garbage. Visit Earth911.com for a list of typically recyclable items which are less known. Earth911.com provides searches specific to your area for where recyclable materials can be dropped off. You will be surprised to see how many materials can be recycled!

The following is a list of categories of items (from Earth911.com) which you may not know can be recycled:

  • ELECTRONICS
    CDs &DVDS, Cell Phones, Computer Monitors, Computers, DVD Players, Inkjet Cartridges, MP3 Players, Office Machines, Televisions, VCRs, Video Games & Consoles.

  • HAZARDOUS
    Asbestos, CFLs, Explosives, Fire Extinguishers, Freon, Lead, Medical, Sharps, Medications, Mercury, Paint Thinners, Pesticides, Pool Chemicals, Rechargeable Batteries, Single-use Batteries, Smoke Detectors.

  • PLASTIC
    Number 4 Plastic LDPE, Number 6 Plastic Polystyrene, Number 7 Plastic, Plastic Bags, Plastic Bottles, Plastic Casing, PVC

  • PAPER
    Books, Brown Paper Bags, Cardboard, Catalogs, Computer Paper, Magazines, Mail, Newspaper, Paperboard, Phone Books

  • HOUSEHOLD
    Bicycles, Clothing + Textiles, Cooking Oil, Eyeglasses, Furniture, Household Cleaners, Light Bulbs, Mattresses, Musical Instruments, Toys

  • GARDEN
    Composting, Dirt, Fertilizers, Mulching

  • AUTOMOTIVE
    Auto Bodies, Auto Parts, Car Batteries, Car Fluids, Fuel, Motor Oil, Oil Filters, Tires

  • METAL
    Aerosol Cans, Aluminum Cans, Aluminum Foil, Ferrous Metal, Metal Clothes, Hangers, Steel

  • GLASS
    Blue Glass, Brown Glass, Clear Glass, Green Glass

  • CONSTRUCTION
    Brick, Carpet, Carpet Padding, Gypsum Drywall, Linoleum, Pallets, Wood
STEP 3: RESEARCH

Look up local options for recycling each of the items on your list. The website: http://earth911.com/recycling/ is an excellent resource which can locate recycling centers in your area by item type.

STEP 4: MAKE IT A HABIT

After going through this initial exercise to help you get a better understanding of what is recyclable, create an organized space to collect recyclables in your home. For the next two months, as you come across these recyclable materials, find a way to get to them recycling centers.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: With a goal of recycling all possible materials, what materials are you now recycling that you were not recycling before the implementation phase?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of recycling all possible materials affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (WST1_BASELINE) to track which items you are currently recycling. Keep track of the type of item, its material and the quantity of those items that you recycle each day.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (WST1_BASELINE) as it relates to your current recycling habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Use the corresponding spreadsheet (WST1_QUANTITATIVE) to track which items you are now recycling that you were NOT recycling before by referring to your Baseline Week list. Describe the container (and or materials) and how you recycled the item.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria individually each week on the spreadsheet (WST1_QUALITATIVE). Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences based on the implementation of this action. Some of the following questions might be helpful as you reflect upon your experiences.

What recyclable materials/products are most challenging to recycle (because they need to be brought somewhere special or for another reason)? Why had you not previously been recycling the materials that you were able to recycle? What did you do to make this action easier to implement for yourself? Did you set up a system?


resources

The website: http://earth911.com/recycling

ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

WST1_Recycle All Possible Materials Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

WST1_BASELINE
WST1_QUANTITATIVE
WST1_QUALITATIVE