Don't judge. I'm a busy mom. Most days I'm just trying to find time to apply my makeup and take out the trash. Who has time to recycle?
But I still carry the guilt, especially when I see women in my neighborhood carrying their groceries in eco-friendly bags -- and pushing a stroller down the street. (I own a dozen eco-grocery bags, but I forget them every time.) The truth is: Often, I'm just too lazy to recycle.
Last month I decided to become a more committed recycler. I told my husband of my plan. "Let's see how long this lasts," he said. But I decided to see if I could pull it off.
I saved two sets of brown paper bags and put them side by side next to my trash can. One was for paper and plastics, the other for cans. As my baby finished eating jars of baby food, they went into the sink for washing and then into the recycling bags. When the milk emptied, I rinsed it out and tossed it in. Sunday's paper -- sometimes it went in before I even read it.
We filled the bags with recyclables overnight. We had way more trash than I'd even realized, and each morning I had a fresh set of recycling bags ready for the next crop of recycling.
And I started to feel really, really good. Recycling wasn't a drain on my time, it became a daily meditation in simple living. And like doing the dishes, it had a big payoff. When I dragged the recycling bags down to the trash every day, I hoped someone would see me. I'm a recycler now, I wanted to say.
Here are a few things I learned during my 30 day recycling challenge:
1. You don't need fancy recycling bins. Just re-use brown paper bags you pick at the grocery store. When you recycle your paper and plastics, you can recycle those too.
2. Easy prep. Place items that are ready to be recycled in the sink, and wash and drop them in to the recycling receptacle at the same time that you do your dishes. Then it feels like it's part of doing the dishes, rather than an extra set of chores
3. Do as much as you can, but don't overdo it. If you're too lazy to recycle a few items one day, it's okay. If you don't put pressure on yourself to be an over-the-top recycler, you're more likely to stick with it.
4. Take your recycling bags out often. You don't want to add clutter to your kitchen with bins overflowing of trash.
Brooke Lea Foster is an editor at ShelterPop. Get more of her at MommyMoi!