Most people recycle in Dalton, but are we recycling as much as we should be? According to a study by IPSOS Public Affairs, 87% of people recycle so you definitely know the benefits of recycling, but it can be confusing on how to recycle as much as possible. With a few simple steps you can go from recycling the occasional magazine to having the best recycling on the block.

So how does Dalton's curbside stack up to the rest of the country? If we only count our recycling at home and not what you throw away in public trash cans or at work, Dalton recycles 1.4 pounds a week per resident. The average in America is 7.91 pounds a week! That’s a pretty big difference. Your recycling bin should weigh about one more pound at the end of each day.

After understanding, how much recycling we should be aiming for, we can take five simple steps to reach our recycling goals.

• Start by placing recycling bins in the bathrooms, office and kitchen in your home. I find the best place is right next to the trash can. Your recycling bins don’t have to look any particular way. They can be buckets bought at a dollar store, a pretty basket from Target or just a cardboard box. The goal is to catch the recyclables that are used in each room.

In your bathroom that will mean your shampoo bottles, soap boxes and toilet paper rolls. In your office area, it will be your printer paper, books and magazines. You will recycle your cereal boxes, plastic water bottles and food containers in your kitchen. If you know you have certain spots that you generate a lot of waste in, consider setting up a bag there as well such as wherever you sort through your junk mail and important mail.

• After setting up your bins, make sure they are each labeled. It is not enough to just label it with the word “recycle.” You will need to either paint on or tape on a list of recyclables. You can find an easy guide at dwswa.org/recycling-101 that you can print out or you can make your own. Again this doesn’t have to be fancy, but it keeps you from having to remember if that plastic container is recyclable or not. You just have to check with the list. I recommend using a list that has pictures to make it even easier.

• By now you are already going to be doing much better than you were before, but you can do even more to help create a good system in the home for recycling and saving the planet. Set up one bin in your home for glass recycling. Glass cannot be recycled in your curbside pickup, but glass jars and bottles that are clear, green or brown can be recycled at any convenience center. Plan one day a month to take your glass recycling to a center closest to you.

• Make sure whether you are visiting a convenience center or setting it out for curbside that you break down or flatten your cardboard boxes. If you take the extra time to break down your boxes, which means undoing all folds and tapes so the boxes lay flat, you make it easier on yourself to move them and easier for those collecting your recycling.

• Lastly, celebrate! Each time you fill up the bin, have a way your family can celebrate whether that is a game night or ice cream after dinner. By taking this time and effort to recycle, your family is making a huge difference in the world every day, but it can be easy to forget how important your efforts are.

At the beginning of each year I list the impacts of Dalton’s recycling. Last year, Dalton's recycling kept 92 garbage trucks worth of recycling out of the landfill and saved thousands of trees! Take the time to enjoy your success and good work done in the world!

Amy Hartline is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or ahartline@dwswa.org.

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