Guest Opinion: Sidewalk Recycling Matters

Residential recycling is vital to a greener life, but let’s talk about how to recycle when you’re out and about. While the amount of recyclables you deposit on the go is typically less than what you recycle at home, it makes a big difference to your environmental impact when running errands, walking in the city, on the beach, or attending events.

We founded Go Green Eco-Bins to make it easy for cities to introduce sidewalk recycling bins and pay for the collection and processing of the materials. Here’s why you should make the effort to recycle on the go.

Why Recycle On The Go

Environmental Impact: Picture a street littered with plastic bottles and food wrappers. Not a pleasant sight, right? Beyond aesthetics, this litter poses serious ecological threats. Recycling on the go helps reduce pollution, conserve resources, and protect wildlife habitats, including sea life. Every piece of trash properly disposed of makes a difference.

Community Health: Littered areas are more than unsightly; they can harm public health. Trash attracts pests and can become breeding grounds for bacteria, contributing to the spread of diseases. Recycling on the go can help keep our communities clean and safe.

Resource Conservation: Consider the materials we use daily—paper, plastic, aluminum. Recycling these items conserves natural resources and reduces energy consumption. When we recycle on the go, we ensure that valuable resources are diverted from landfills and reused, benefiting both the environment and future generations.

Economic Benefits: Recycling is good for the planet and the economy. It creates jobs in the recycling industry and can lead to cost savings for municipalities by reducing waste management expenses. Recycling on the go also contributes momentum to sustainable growth in your community—it sends an essential signal to city leaders that citizens care about a clean environment.

An eco bin in action. The program includes financial support for collection.

Personal Responsibility: We all are obligated to the planet and one another to minimize our environmental footprint. Recycling on the go is a simple yet powerful way to fulfill that responsibility.

Education and Awareness: Recycling on the go isn’t just about individual actions; it’s also about raising awareness in our communities. When others see us recycling in public spaces, it prompts them to think about their habits and the impact of their actions. By leading by example, we can inspire others to join the movement towards sustainability.

Long-term Sustainability: Ultimately, recycling on the go is about building a more sustainable future. Small changes to our behavior today can create a better world for future generations. Every bottle, can, and piece of paper recycled brings us one step closer to that future.

Recycling Challenges in Cities

Cities face challenges in recycling programs, especially since the “China ban” that made recycling less profitable after emerging economies stopped accepting heavily contaminated materials, like plastic bottles. Many cities only offer curbside recycling, leaving on-the-go recycling overlooked. With recycling bins in public places like parks and streets, people can avoid tossing recyclables in the trash.

However, while adding sidewalk recycling bins sounds good, someone has to pay for them, and these programs can be too costly for cities. Worse, they can be ineffective. If the bins are not labeled clearly, contamination rates will stay high, reducing the efficiency of local recycling processing.

Independent Solutions for On-the-Go Recycling

At Go Green Eco-Bins, we found a solution that pays for out-of-home recycling. We created a sponsored program, the Clean Streets Initiative, that tackles sidewalk recycling problems without costing cities a dime. Environmentally conscious sponsors support it and collaborate with local recycling groups to ensure proper recycling practices.

How can a program like this be free to cities? Green sponsors make it economically self-sustaining. Local businesses, such as realtors, restaurants, lawyers, and medical offices, adopt an eco-bin and display their messages on it. The sponsorship revenue pays to collect and process recyclables and non-recyclables, ensuring the eco-bins stay clean and well-maintained.

Clear Labels for Easy Understanding

The eco-bins use clear and standardized labels from Recycle Across America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to standardizing recycling labeling and simplifying the recycling process to reduce contamination rates.

These bins are made in the USA from durable and recyclable materials and use solar energy for illumination to ensure better visibility. The side panels of these Eco-Bins display important messages, including public service announcements, promoting community events, or a straightforward reminder to recycle.

Advertising supports free placement of eco bins in cities.

How Can You Support Sidewalk Recycling

As a citizen, you can make a difference every day. Use sidewalk recycling responsibly. Be mindful of the sidewalk recycling bins, use them for their intended purpose, and encourage others to do the same.

Read bin labels carefully: Check what materials are accepted because they vary by city and collection program.

Avoid wishcycling: Don’t throw non-recyclables into the recycling bin, hoping they might be recyclable. When in doubt, throw them out.

Education: Teach children from a young age what recycling is and how it is done correctly. Check Earth911 for guides to recycling hundreds of materials. Engage local schools in your efforts. Work with teachers to incorporate recycling education into the curriculum or organize recycling-themed events.

Organize community meetings: Host informal meetings or gatherings to discuss the importance of recycling and propose implementing sidewalk recycling in your neighborhood. Use these meetings to address concerns and gather support.

Advocate for recycling on social media: Share informative posts, infographics, and success stories to inspire and educate your community. You can create topics and groups about recycling on neighborhood apps like Nextdoor.

Lobby for change in your city: If on-the-go recycling isn’t available, advocate for these programs. Together, we can make a positive impact on our environment. Create a petition and collect signatures from community members who support the introduction of sidewalk recycling bins. Present the petition to local authorities or community leaders to demonstrate community interest and need.

Change often starts at the grassroots level, but that depends on you. By taking these steps and involving your community in the process, you can contribute to the adoption of sidewalk recycling in a meaningful way.


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