A Short Guide to Starting Recycling, if You’re Struggling...

Struggling to recycle

I know its easy to lose the habit of recycling, to start procrastinating, slipping into bad habits, and generally not feeling motivated to save the world.

It’s hard to get motived again, to get started when all your bad habits are against you.

Here’s how to get started recycling again, in just a few easy steps.

  1. Start small. Pick just one type of item to recycle. People who want to change their lives usually want to change everything at once. But trust me, there is a penalty you will have to pay when trying to change too many things at once. If you choose just one item then it will be much easier to keep it going and to add to later. 
  2. Unmissable reminders. Put a huge sign or picture that reminds you of why you are recycling make sure it is somewhere near your home recycling center or somewhere you won’t miss it. I like to set a daily reminder on my phone to recycle my daily coffee cup and lid. Whatever you do don't forget!
  3. Make it public. One of the keys to successfully continuing a new habit is accountability and social pressure. Publicly commit to starting your recycling journey. Announce it on your social accounts, let people at the office know and keep people updated. There is nothing worse than a co-worker or close friend asking you how you are doing with your commitment and not being able to tell them you are succeeding.
  4. Recycle someone else's garbage. I know it might sound disgusting but it can be truly satisfying to know that you are contributing to the cleanliness of your neighborhood. This small step of picking up and recycling a piece of garbage from the street will remind you just how easy it is to start at home and the office. 
  5. Build your own home recycling center. Building my own home recycling center to house the separation of my recyclables was one of the most rewarding things I have been able to do in order to support my continued efforts. Having put in hours to make your own recycling center you are much more invested in seeing it put to good use. 
  6. Get Involved. There are lots of communities online and offline to help support you on your journey to a more sustainable and earth friendly lifestyle. Start by joining a couple subreddits like r/recycling and follow people on Twitter or Facebook that are active in the recycling community. 
  7. Make it easy. Making recycling easy removes many of the temptations to just do it next time. I always have a roll of recycling sacks in the kitchen so that I do not have to worry about running out.
  8. Keep it exciting. Ok so recycling can be a bit.. em.. boring. So why not try to make it a little more exciting sometimes. There are lots of items that can be upcycled into new items. This can even be a fun project you do with your children or a group of friends. My wife and daughter recently made some piggy banks from old water bottles one rainy weekend. Which provided us with life long memories as well as a learning opportunity to teach our daughter about recycling.  

Every time you recycle you will feel a little better, once you are comfortable with your level of recycling add something new or increase your commitment. As you progress you will start to believe in your mission and goals more and more. Soon you will be a recycling Ninja. 

Do you have any suggestions that have helped you stay on your recycling journey? 

Let me know on Twitter.


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