Earth Day is Sunday, April 22, 2018. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 when I was an unaware 8th grader. As a seasoned teacher of Environmental Science, I am very aware of what a huge carbon footprint Americans leave on the planet, but I’m lazy. I only help the earth when it’s convenient for me.

Let’s take recycling. Over the years the qualifications for recycling have varied, but many people believe the inconvenience remains the same.

There was a time when you had to separate glass and cans and paper, but today many municipalities boast Single Stream Recycling because they have a huge machine do the separating. I took a tour of the plant in Willimantic, CT once, and it was absolutely fascinating..

So, how did I make it convenient to recycle? Easy. I bought matching trash pails for each room in the house, one for recyclables, and one for non-recyclables. Then we could smoothly sort the trash as we created it.

As far as training my family to recycle, there was the expected learning curve, but they quickly fell into line, spurred on by their commitment to help the planet… or perhaps their growing annoyance with my constant reminders, and correcting of their “mistakes.” I also taped lists of what was allowed into each container, which I loudly rapped on to draw their attention to transgressions. Regardless, we came to recycle as a family. No problem!

It was also simple to order a family to dump the trash in the appropriate bins. (Hey, I’m the mom. My job is to create trash from cooking, etc. Their job is to remove it.)

After a while, recycling became a habit in our house. The added bonus was the visual impact of how much of our trash is recyclable. The non-recycled trash only filled about 1/16 of the container by the time the recyclables needed to be emptied. It showed on a micro-scale what our municipalities could be doing. As towns and states close over-burdened landfills, and scramble to find places to create new ones, we could be recycling all that trash, easing that burden, and helping our planet at the same time.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint, and your grandchildren will be glad you did.

Share this article if you think we should all be stepping up our recycling.