Finding a natural solution
Based in Lake County, Illinois, Heidi Cardenas has been freelancing since 2000. She studied business administration at the College of Lake County and has a background in human resources administration. She has written for "Chicago Parent Magazine" and guest blogs for The Herb Companion, Natural Living and TribLocal. She enjoys writing on a wide range of topics, but especially gardening, natural living, and home and family eco topics.
Everybody likes a freebie, getting something for nothing, getting something without spending money. The best things in life are free. Recycling is a part of all the ways we give things away and get things for free. I generally keep an eye out for free stuff, whether it’s a free seminar, webinar or any other "ar," free products or services, free used items and any and all things that I can obtain without parting with any cold, hard cash. I also look for recycling opportunities, ways to pass things on that are still in good condition and needed by others. I abhor the idea of any kind of waste.
Some of my favorite freebies and recycling efforts involve gardening and growing plants. I absolutely love getting a free plant from a cutting or a seed. I have many fruit tree seedlings grown from fruit seeds, I root cuttings from most of my houseplants, I save seeds from as many flowers, fruits and vegetables in our yard and garden as I can for planting next season, and I divide perennials in our yard to renew them and fill bare spaces in our landscaping. We compost every kitchen scrap, trimmed brown houseplant leaf, ounce of spent potting soil, tree leaf, twig and blade of mown grass in the yard for free "black gold." We use free mulch from our village tree trimming program. It’s great getting something for our yard or garden for free.
While I have been involved in recycling my whole life (hand-me-downs, church rummage sales and neighborhood garage sales were some of my earliest recycling experiences, although we didn’t call it recycling back then), I recently put my family on a 100 percent recycling program. We would love to have a 100 percent eco-friendly home and we are starting with a total recycling policy. We recycle every plastic bag, aluminum can, piece of glass, styrofoam, cardboard, newspaper and junk mail that my family discards, as well as clothes, books, toys, electronics, batteries, furniture and anything else we outgrow that is still useful. It allows us to give back and contribute to balance, to keep things out of the landfill, and it gives us a way to handle much of life’s flotsam and jetsam. As much as we love our "stuff," we frequently outgrow much of it, like clothing sizes and styles, and we generate a lot of peripheral "stuff" like discarded packaging and paper.
The Clean Air Council reports that recycling saves energy, money and resources, and saves the environment. It claims that increasing national recycling would create more than 1 million new green jobs. The council says that dis-incentives such as fees for plastic bags and incentives like deposits on bottles reduces those items in landfills and motivates reuse and recycle activities. California spends more than 30 million dollars a year removing littered plastic bags from streets and sending them to the landfill. Imagine what they could do with that money if it wasn’t being spent handling discarded plastic bags. That would be a BIG freebie for the citizens of California!
If everyone, residential and commercial, participated 100 percent in recycling, the Ocean Conservancy wouldn’t have to keep pulling millions of pounds of trash out of the oceans. Our towns and cities could save the money they spend to handle and send our garbage to the landfills. There would be much less (or possibly zero) toxic material embedded in our environment. No one would be downstream from anything harmful that was dumped by their neighboring towns. Recycling benefits us all by creating a more balanced world. I want that for my family, for the town and state we live in, for our country and for our shared world.