I started working with a new client a couple of months ago who changed my life. She and her family are extremely careful about recycling to the point where they'll deconstruct a shopping bag in order to separate the fabric handles - textile recycling - from the paper bag - paper recycling. If you're thinking - "Awhaaaa? There's textile recycling?!" - you're not alone. I never knew this was a thing until a couple of months ago. She thoughtfully gives away unwanted clothing to a friend who wants them, donates anything else to the local thrift shop, and composts every apple core. Inspiring! Now, as an organizer, it was really hard for me to take on these important habits. While I'm generally careful to recycle paper and plastic, I was not used to taking the extra time to think about what material small trinkets were composed of and recycle them accordingly. I like to instantly rid myself and others of belongings they don't want and get those things out of sight and mind. PURGE PURGE PURGE. Nothing brings me more joy than the sound of garbage flying down garbage shoots (no joke, I rave about this sound endlessly). But you should see me now! I barely let a blessed thing touch those garbage bags. It may slow down the "getting rid of" process, but I love Gaya and I know she loves me back. If you're looking to take on a more conscious lifestyle, I'll provide you with a few easy tips. This isn't all-or-nothing and any small step for a man is a giant leap for mankind. And Mother Earth.
Here are some green things to consider:
- Use rags instead of paper towels. Cut up those old t-shirts, use them around the house for cleaning and then chuck them in the laundry to get the cycle going again. You'll save money and help the environment.
- Recycle paper. Did you know that 40% of America's trash is recyclable paper? There's no excuse for this one since recycling paper has been made so easy. Just make sure to separate out all clean paper and reduce that carbon footprint! Keep in mind that laminated paper (such as photos), tissues, food-soiled paper and napkins may not be recyclable in your area (they aren't in NYC).
- Donate your unwanted belongings. There are countless organizations that will take your unwanted goods and some (like Salvation Army or The Vietnam Veterans of America) will even pick them up at your home. If you want to be extra nice, try to give things away to friends and family first or put them up on Craigslist and make a BRAND NEW FRIEND. Karma will hit you back for this.
- Recycle plastic. Learn what types of plastic are recyclable in your area and act accordingly. In NYC, all rigid plastic became recyclable in April - so whether it's an old yogurt cup, plastic toy or plastic appliance, it belongs in the recycling.
- Go paperless. Setup paperless billing for banking, electricity bills and cable bills. Stop unwanted phone books because let's admit it, no one uses those anyway.
- Recycle textiles. This applies to things like old clothing, linen, ribbons, stuffed animals, yarns and canvas totes. If these things are too ratty to be donated, consider textile recycling. There may be a collection bin in your neighborhood that will facilitate this. Here's a website that let you know which Greenmarkets in NYC have textile recycling collection.
- Compost. There are a few different compost systems that you can create depending on your housing situation. Some involve worms, some require physical labor but all are the best burial for your unwanted food-items. If you live in an NYC apartment, you can start composting too! Store the compost in your freezer and then drop it off at a Greenmarket compost collection.
Again, recycling can take time and effort. Don't get overwhelmed by all of the opportunities and welcome them one at a time. You can also consider wearing green all day every day to inspire others if you can't take them all on.