These tips for recycling paper at home will help you reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills and save trees from being cut down. It might not seem like it, but most households go through a lot of paper -- your junk mail, cereal boxes, old telephone books, kids' school projects, work reports and much more can all be recycled. Recycling paper reduces your environmental impact and teaches kids basic environmental principles.
Recycled paper is used to make a variety of products, including paper towels, toilet tissue, notebook paper, office paper, egg cartons, money, coffee filters, masking tape and car insulation. Americans recycled almost 43 million tons of paper in 2009, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Many locations accept paper for curbside recycling pickup. In other areas, you may need to take your paper to a local recycling facility. Paper recycling collections are either "single stream" or "sorted stream." Single stream or commingled collections don't require you to sort your recyclables; you can place all of your recyclables, including plastics, aluminum cans and steel cans, in one container. In sorted stream collection systems, you either have to separate your paper from the rest of your recyclabes or, rarely, even sort your paper by grade.
Most types of clean, dry paper are recyclable, including discarded mail, newspapers, catalogs, magazines, envelopes (including window envelopes), office paper, staped documents, paper bags, cereal boxes, tissue boxes, shoe boxes, cardboard rolls and wrapping paper. You can also recycle paperback books, telephone books, cardboard egg cartons, corrugated cardboard and cardboard boxes.
For your security, you may wish to shred sensitive documents, such as bank statements, before recycling them. Shredded paper can usually be recycled as long as you keep it separate from shredded plastic. Check with your local recycling program for requirements on shred size.
You can't recycle paper that's covered in wax or plastic, such as candy wrappers or laminated paper. Photographs and hardcover books can't be recycled either. In addition, never recycle any paper that's contaminated with dirt, oil or food, such as used paper plates, fast-food wrappers or grease-stained pizza boxes. Not only are these items not recyclable, but incorrectly putting them in with other recyclables could ruin an entire batch of paper.
Keep separate recycling boxes next to trash bins in rooms that use a lot of paper, such as home offices or kids' rooms. Dump these boxes in your recycling bin on pickup day. This makes recycling more convenient and reduces the impulse to throw paper away.
Remember to reduce and reuse before you recycle. Print documents with smaller margins and use double-sided printing whenever possible. Teach kids to use both sides of the paper when writing or drawing. Reuse cereal boxes and large cardboard boxes for crafts or kids' games.
Pay attention to what you throw away during the holidays, when many families create more trash than usual. Greeting cards, wrapping paper and cardboard boxes can be recycled.
You can also use clean paper in a compost pile.
Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to become an environmentally friendly household.