Saturday, March 26, 2016

52 Weeks to a Simpler Life – Tip #27 – Simplifying the Recycling Process

Audio Version available - see player below

This tip, #27 in the series, is short and sweet. The topic is recycling. A lot of people have taken on the idea of recycling plastics, cans, newspapers, cardboard and other recyclable materials. This is a virtuous and noble gesture by those who have embraced recycling. Thank you.

I'll be honest, I attempt to recycle as often as I can. There are times, with a mobile lifestyle, that recycling is either not practical or possible just due to logistics. I bore some guilt feelings when I left my small ranch and no longer had my own place and routine for recycling. I should point out that I didn't have public or contracted trash and recycling collection from 1984 until I left my small ranch at the end of 2008. For those 24 years, I hauled my own garbage and recyclable materials to county provided collection sites. So, I actually did a lot of the actual separation of the different categories of recyclable materials.

But, living a mobile lifestyle on the road makes recycling more challenging for those of us choosing this alternative lifestyle. We often don't have recyclable collection sites in places we may travel to or through. Additionally, it's usually impractical to store and carry any garbage or recyclables with us in the limited amount of space we have to live, travel, eat, sleep and recreate. So, while I used to feel guilty about not recycling all the time, I've had to allow that guilt to give way to the realities and practicalities of this alternative lifestyle.

Listen to the Audio Version: 

But, here's the thing. I can still do something about reducing the amount of recyclable materials created and so can you. How? Well, this series of tips is about simplifying your life, so the solution is . . . actually, simple.

Use Less Stuff

Isn't this a simple idea? And, to give it even more credence, using less stuff is actually part of the entire idea of simplifying your life. The less you acquire, regardless of how you acquire it, the less “stuff” will have to enter the landfills (garbage dumps, to be blunt).

So, as you've been learning and continue to learn, learn to shop more carefully. Bring your own reusable bags when you shop, regardless of what you're shopping for. Refuse to have your purchases put in plastic or paper bags. Drink water (tap water), it's the best drink there is and it's all your body requires. That way you stop acquiring plastic bottles and metal cans that have to be recycled. Do your best to avoid all kinds of pre-packaged foods and other goods.

Maintain reusable containers to keep left overs in and to keep fresh produce and meats in. Buy less stuff in general. Avoid purchasing merchandise that's packaged in elaborate paper, plastic and metal packaging materials. Buying some things in bulk and perhaps sharing it with several people can also help.

By following these simple ideas you'll be reducing recyclables before they are recyclable. Sure, it doesn't mean others will follow your lead, though you could inspire them by your actions. But, if you, as one person reduce your purchases by a third, a half or even two-thirds of the recyclable merchandise you currently have been using, think of the back end. It's even better than recycling, because the result is you're not actually filling the recycling centers with recyclable stuff. That's a winner in my book.

The Bottom Line

So, the bottom line here is simple. Tip #27 in the 52 Weeks to a Simpler Life program is to stop buying/acquiring as much stuff as possible that will require recycling. And, do acquire some reusable shopping bags to use instead of taking plastic or paper bags at the stores. The same with reusable storage containers. This all may seem to be only a pittance, but as the old litter slogan went - “Every litter bit helps.” Set an example for others and see how many people can adjust to this idea. Obviously, they adjusted to recycling in the first place. Why not move to the next step. Stop creating recycling stuff in the first place.

With that in mind, let me remind you to live free and be happy. EH


Richard Rosen said...

I enjoyed your snappy and happy introduction melody and its counterparts in the middle and end. Made me smile.

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Thanks, Richard. I appreciate the feedback. I want to keep the audio tracks light and uplifting. Hopefully, those music choices convey that.