It doesn’t matter whether you are a recycling rookie or an expert, this post aims to get you inspired to get started or re-dedicate yourself to paper recycling.  Oh so you say it’s not you that needs the help?  Maybe it’s your kids or maybe your spouse that needs a little encouragement (aka nagging)?  Well, I’ve got that covered too!  Recycling paper at home is easy!

I admit our family started out as very casual recyclers of paper not giving it much thought.  Sometimes it would get recycled, sometimes it would get trashed.  In fact even though I’ve worked hard with my kids on recycling I do still find myself screaming across the room as I see the hand reach toward the regular trash can, “You can recycle that!!”

Paper Recycling Facts

To give you some perspective on why paper recycling is so important listen to this… 50% of the 121 tons of garbage buried in landfills is paper that could instead be recycled. Wow!  And get this…not only is paper filling up landfills but most don’t realize (I didn’t) that it takes paper an average of 15 years to break down. (Check out my post, “Where Does My Trash Go?” for more landfill info.)  Wow again!  Yes, paper is biodegradable but because the lack of space in a landfill results in less oxygen (which helps garbage break down) the process takes a lot longer.  As an aside – think about the garbage that isn’t biodegradable – how long do those things take? Yikes!  (Don’t worry I’ll get a post out about that soon!)  In any case, all of this really made an impact on me and gave me a lot of incentive to work hard with my family on this.

What’s Going At Your House?

So just for fun (I know you have nothing else to do! :)) grab a kid or two (your own) and take a quick peek in a few of the trash cans in your house.  See any paper in there – maybe a little, maybe a lot, maybe about 50%?  Do you think you could do a little more sorting and get more paper into your recycling bin?  (See my post, “Help Your Family Separate Garbage For Recycling” for info on getting bins set up.)  It’s possible that your kids (and maybe even you!) don’t realize all the kinds of paper that can actually be recycled.   If you aren’t sure what your community accepts, do some quick homework to find out.  Neighbors or your local solid waste organization are great resources.

That’s Paper Recycling?

Now get ready to amaze and dazzle your family.  You are going to make sure everyone knows that there are lots and lots of different types of paper trash in your house that can be recycled.  First, gather a bunch of different kinds of paper from your house.  Be sure to include typical examples like newspaper and printer paper but also grab tricky things like paper towel rolls, wrapping paper or plastic packaging that has paper backing (that’s sure to stump them!).  Now for a quick quiz – ask your family to identify which types of paper trash can and can’t be recycled.  Have fun with it!  And, make sure to share the correct answers! (Hint: the paper backing needs to be  pulled off the plastic packaging to be recyclable!)

Let The Recycling Begin!

Now that you and your family are familiar with the wide variety of paper you have in your home that will eventually turn into trash, do your best to get it all into your paper recycling bin.  Try to encourage your family to really think about what they are about to toss before choosing a bin.  Little kids will need a little more hands-on help from you or older siblings while you may get the typical eye-roll or huffing when you provide a gentle reminder to older kids – I still get it every time!  (See my post, “How Much Garbage Do We Produce?” to learn how to track your trash and see your progress.) But don’t give up!  It will take time to change your habits (Check out my post, “Help Your Family Adopt Green Habits“) but with practice you can recycle – or reuse – all of the paper trash you produce! Recycling paper at home is easy!