Top 10 Recycling Habits from a New Perspective

I came across these 10 recycling habits written by my friend, Ryan, and I wanted to share it with you all. He granted me permission to share it with you all. Some of the ideas may not be new, but may this challenge refresh and encourage you to keep up the work! Thanks Ryan!

You should be all about recycling. If you’re a Christian you should be especially passionate about recycling.

Consider the fact that in recycling you are taking something that is spent, used up, and old, and giving it new life, purpose, and usefulness.

As Randy Alcorn shares: “Psalms 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” This is not our place to trash. It’s God’s place to treasure. To care for the world is to care for its people. To care for its people is to fulfill the second commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. As we see it mandated in Genesis 1:28, God entrusts us with the earth as He entrusts us with our bodies, and He intends for us to take care of both.”

As a follower of Jesus, listed below are some of the ways both big and small that I think the invitation to recycle is available. It is obviously in no way an exhaustive list, and neither is it listed in any particular order. So without further adieu here are my top ten recycling habits:

1. Food

If you don’t have chickens to give your old scraps to (and thus produce eggs and great fertilizer), then get a compost pile so that your old food will turn into rich soil. Also, using old veggies (flimsy celery and carrots, onion skins, etc) and animal bones to make stock is a great way to recycle stuff that you will not eat.

2. Water

There are some pretty amazing ways you can recycle water. You can collect the water from the bathroom sink in a bucket and use that bucket to flush the toilet. Other creative ideas include collecting water from dishwashers and washing machines drained out to use for gardening, etc. Personally, I don’t do that stuff, but I do collect our rain water and use it to water the garden! I do use my kids kiddie pool water to water my plants (instead of dumping it every few days). Next time you’re about to dump out the remains of your glass of water, dump it in your houseplant instead.

3. Bags

You can buy cloth bags for grocery shopping. We do. But we also forget to use them as often as we remember. So if you have to do the unthinkable (haha) and use plastic shopping bags, they work great as your new garbage can liners. We have nor purchased garbage bags in years because we just use these from our local supermarket. Sure you have to empty the garbage a bit more often, but it’ll shave a few bucks off your grocery bill and it will put those bags back to use. These bags can also be recycled at most grocery stores.

4. Money

Buy locally. If you buy locally from local businesses and local owners and local shops and local food and…then your money stays in the community you love. The money you use to buy your kids a birthday present will go to a local family who owns the local toy shop that employs local individuals who buy things from their local supermarket who…etc. When you spend and shop locally, your money is recycled within your community to grow and develop the community you love.

5. Clothes

Buy from used clothing stores. Give your old clothes to others. Old clothes can also be quite useful for household projects! I grew up with a giant canvas tent for camping. The tent bag for our giant tent was a pair of my dads old jeans. The pockets were where the stakes were kept, the tent slid into the legs (that had been sewed together into one large space), and a drawstring was put through the belt loops. My wife has made purses out of old t-shirts, hats out of old sweaters, skirts out of old shirts, etc. Put those old clothes to work.

6. Travel

Ok, this is a bit of a stretch, but if we change our behaviors so that our travel accomplishes more than getting us from A to B then we are creating more out of something than previously existed. If you ride your bike, not only are you cutting down on emissions and traffic, but you’re also exercising at the same time. If you take the bus, you’re also being able to read or work on homework. If you carpool, your also creating community and relationship.

7. Death

Even in your death you can allow life to emerge by being an organ donor. Don’t hold out, you won’t need your heart anymore, so give it away.

8. Yard

We American’s love our grass. Our yards can be so much more than pretty grass, instead we can make them work for us by building garden plots, by growing strawberries and lettuces where grass might have been before. Get some chickens, grow some blueberries or grapes, allow your yard to do something for you, to be useful, and to bring more to your life.

9. Books

I love books. I hate borrowing them, I love owning them. But as I work to get over my ownership mentality I’m seeing that not only is borrowing books from the library a great recycling practice, but loaning your books out to others and borrowing others books is a great way to let books have a greater life than the shelf. How cool would it be if we began to loan our books out and asked people to mark them up, highlight them, and jot down notes in the margins so that when you got the book back it would carry with it some of the life of the previous reader! Check out your library’s inter-library loan program to find practically any book you may desire. If you must buy a book, buy it used through Amazon, Powell’s Books, and many more sources.

10. Paper

This one should be redundant in our culture, but don’t use paper. Read your newspaper or magazine online. Use email instead of snail mail. Cut down on your junk mail by opting out. Opt out from getting those obsolete phone books as well. Setup your bills so that you don’t receive hard copies but only electronic copies. Dare I say buy a Kindle? Ok, I’m not ready to go there yet, but it’s probably inevitable!

I’m certain there are many other creative ways to recycle. Spend a few hours on Etsy.com and let your brain cram all the amazing and creative ways to recycle old materials. Shop at recycled stores, shop less, etc. There are so many ways we can embrace the beautiful opportunity to be a part of giving old, spent, and used up things new life and purpose. I mean, isn’t this what God does with humanity? Why should we do anything different?

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

22 Responses to Top 10 Recycling Habits from a New Perspective

  1. Jodie August 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    It is actually illegal in some states to collect rainwater! Crazy, I know, but something to be aware of.

  2. Smithereens August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    Regarding #9 books, I discovered Bookmooch.com where used books circulate worldwide in a sort of barter system. You send books you no longer like to others who will enjoy them! And you can get books for free. I love this system.

  3. Becks August 1, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Regarding the organ donation: My cousin died in a tragic accident when he was only 12 years old. He was buried alive in a landslide, and was in the PICU for about 4 days before his heart stopped beating. It was incredibly heart breaking for our family, but there was a (very small) silver lining: because of organ donation, his life was able to save the lives of 7 other children. It still makes me cry, to think those 7 children who were dying, whose parents were watching them die, and who were given the gift of life by someone they will never know. I am so very, very glad we were able to give that gift.

    Regarding the last one (paper): I am ALL for digitizing newspaper, advertisements, phonebooks, etc., BUT, e-mail instead of personal letters? I can’t think of a more appropriate use of paper. The number of personal letters that are written is probably less than 1% of the total volume of paper used each year, and letter writing is a thing of beauty, an art. Also, it doesn’t take into account the fact that the computers that make digitalization possible consume massive amounts of energy, and are much harder to recycle. Just sayin!

  4. Kate July 29, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    loved this post and can’t help but thinking of adoption in this light :)

  5. Jessica July 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    I wanted to comment to the organ donor comment. My Papa died very unexpectedly and was an organ donor. Because of his cause of death, no major organs were usable BUT…
    His eyes gave 2 people sight.
    His thigh bones helped some chemokids with broken bones. (sadly at a profit to the co that made the screws with his bone).
    The skin and facia on his back helped several burn victims.

    There are so many ways to donate that have nothing to do with anyone declaring you gone when in fact you are not.

  6. David July 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Thanks for your post and helpful tips! My wife asked me about the part regarding organ donation, since I studied and wrote on this topic in graduate school.

    Sadly, because of the perceived lack of available organs for transplantation, the traditional/biblical standard of declaring someone dead only after their heart permanently stops beating has now changed to a “brain death” standard, which is a very slippery and ever-changing measurement. The reality is that patients who are declared “brain dead” still have their hearts beating and lungs breathing. I believe (as do many Christian doctors and ethicists) that death does not occur until not only the brain is dead but the heart and lungs have permanently ceased functioning. Applying this stricter standard would prevent many organ transplants, which is why the biblical standard is no longer accepted.

    I understand that a medical doctor recently spoke at a Vision Forum event and made these same points about defining death and organ harvesting and transplantation.

    Here’s an interesting account of an attempted organ harvest gone awry:

    http://groups.google.com/group/bible-prophecy-news/browse_thread/thread/3e3fce421974e969?pli=1

    Thanks again and may the Lord guide and bless you!

  7. Shawn July 28, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    Just opted out on getting phone books. A great idea- thanks for the link!
    I agree about sending snail mail though- a good letter or card from a friend is priceless.

  8. Cassandra July 28, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    Just one thought about the books… if you are truly concerned with excess gas consumption, fossil fuels, etc., buying online is a bad idea because of the shipping. Buy from a local used bookstore. Cut down on emissions AND buy used books. :)

    • Lindsay July 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

      Yes, local is definitely preferred…but used online is still better than purchasing it new. You are putting to use a book that some one else is done with.

      • Danielle July 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

        Yes, but once you figure in shipping it’s ridiculous. I would rather go to a Borders or something and pay the same price as I would for a used book + shipping.

        • Lindsay July 30, 2010 at 11:07 am #

          There are so many books on used on Amazon that were significantly cheaper than new even with shipping. I find many books for 99 cents and $4 shipping and I am still only paying $5 for the book. It is definitely not every item, but I have found a few wonderful deals on used books.

      • Jodie August 6, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

        My only thought on new books has come because I have an author friend. It is one of her sources of income for her family and their ministry. Their books go out of print if people stop buying them. It is one of the ways they stay afloat and continue to minister. I used to buy all of my books used, but now buy hers new.

  9. Corinne July 28, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    While I agree with much of what is stated above, I personally don’t ike to read highlighted and marked up books and I love my phone book!! Most people in our town still use a land line. I also use it frequently to look up businesses, doctor’s numbers, etc. How do people live with out a phone directrory? We have one in every vehicle even, and we use them often!

  10. Jospehine July 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    thanks for the opt-out of phone books site!

  11. Joy Y. July 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Gave me some insight…and fresh reminders are always good..thanks!

  12. Colleen July 28, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    On a light-hearted note — I have to say that I was really sad that he had to mention “send an email instead of snail mail.” Ooh… makes me shudder. Email has its place, but I think sending an old-fashioned, eloquent, encouraging note that arrives on paper in the mail is an irreplaceable art and a perfectly acceptable way to use a valuable commodity. :) Maybe you can use recycled paper — but don’t give up the beauty of handwritten letters for emails. :)

    • Ryan July 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

      So true!

  13. Melodie July 28, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Great tips! My favorite would have to be about how we Americans love grass. You’re right, it is purely ornamental and a nice vegetable/herb/flower garden is pretty and serves a purpose as well. And I can testify that no food product goes to waste when you own chickens, I mean none!

  14. elaine July 28, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Excellent tips – thanks!

  15. Leslie July 28, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    I loved this….I have never looked at it in quite that perspective before…..but I can see the comparison.

    Ani I think we were all garbage before Christ came to redeem us with his blood, I think that is the essence of this article. The Bible is full of metaphors, and I think this article is a great one.

  16. Jennifer July 28, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    GREAT tips~thank you!

  17. Mary July 28, 2010 at 4:17 am #

    LOVE this! i’ve always thought this but never saw anyone actually write it out so nicely.

    thanks. :)