My parents were part of the original green movement. A couple of hippies (in the 1980's), they grew their own organic vegetables, carefully kept a compost pile to use in their garden, collected things that our city would recycle and actually drove those recyclables to the recycling plant.
When we moved to a suburb of Chicago, our city was one of the first in the state to implement a recycling program – all you had to do was dump the recyclables into a specially marked orange container and once a week, the recycling truck drove on through the neighborhood and collected the recyclables. It was pretty neat – I was a wee thing at the time, but they made sure that we learned just how important it was to be green: reduce, recycle and reuse. It's been forever engrained into my memory and my way of living.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been remodeling my house, purging all of the unnecessary clutter and stuff I don't need, which means that I've spent a ton of time deciding what to donate, what to toss, and how to manage it all. It's a great thing to do – getting rid of those ancient unused roller skates and giving them to a new home – but it's also a boat-load of work.
Geek alert! I'm over here fist-bumping the cat and high-fiving myself in the mirror because I just found out about a new online website that encourages recycling and living green. I'm telling you, I haven't been this excited about something since I learned that YouTube had a zillion videos of dancing cats (or cactuses).
The site is called "Recyclebank," and it's a way to earn cash rewards at a variety of companies (including Ziploc, Barns and Noble, and Pantene, to name a few), through a point system. Points are earned for performing greener tasks, like switching from paper towels to reusable hand-towels, or trading paper books in for a Nook. Kinda rad, right?
On the site, RecycleBank has compiled a number of ways in which even the greenest of us can be a little bit greener – recycling cooking oil, rather than dumping it down the drain and praying it doesn't solidify and cause a clog in the pipes for a plumber to unclog (why yes, I speak from experience here). Of particular note to me (as I get rid of the mountain of toys my kids have amassed over the years), the site offers an entire article filled with suggestions for what to do with those gently-used toys. That's a huge win for me!
The site is brimming with articles that cover everything from how to throw a frugal, green wedding (no, not the color green) to how to create a greener Thanksgiving. There's no end to the amount of material on the site, which means I'm going to have to develop a speed habit to keep up with it all – I don't half-ass stuff like this.
That's great and all, but what's this about points and rewards? The premise of RecycleBank is a points system: you receive various points for doing certain things – signing up for a green e-newsletter, recycling your plastic bags rather than throwing them away, using RecycleBank's home recycling program (in the event that you don't have a city-wide recycling program), and referring a friend, among dozens of other small actions.
You accumulate these points and are able to redeem them for such things as $10 off a $50 purchase at Macy's or $35 off at T-Mobile. There's no end to the amount of points and rewards you can get through the site.
But what's most important is this: through this process, you learn a boat-ton of green tips and ways to be kind to the Earth. Before I'd heard of RecycleBank, I'd figured that, being a product of smelly hippies, I knew just about everything there was to know about living green. Turns out? I have just as much to learn as the rest of us.
I'd love to hear YOUR recycling tips. What do you do to be green? How do you manage to reduce, reuse, and recycle?