Household recycling has become easier than ever. Many towns and cities offer free recycling pickup, and even private waste management companies are implementing recycling programs.
There are a number of advantages to recycling. It helps protect the environment by reducing the amount of waste and making it easier to reuse raw materials. But, recycling is also advantageous to homeowners who don’t want to pay hefty fees for trash pickup when they can often recycle for free.
One of the more difficult aspects of household recycling is the learning curve of actually learning what is and isn’t recyclable. Homeowners might think something is recyclable because it’s made from plastic, only to find out later that it’s a specific type of plastic that can’t be recycled. On the other hand, you might be throwing some items in the garbage, filling up your bin each week when you could be recycling it instead.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the lesser known items you could be recycling. We’ll also cover some items you shouldn’t throw in your recycling bin, and give you tips on how to tell which is which.
Things that shouldn’t find their way into your recycling bin
It’s easy to assume that just because something looks like paper, plastic, or glass, that it can be tossed into your recycling bin. However, that isn’t always the case. Look out for these items that may not be recyclable in your area.
Used paper food containers. Pizza boxes are one of the biggest culprits that end up in recycling bins when they shouldn’t be. Items like paper food containers, use paper towels, and paper plates are all soiled with grease and other food residue making them ineligible for recycling.
Those glossy drink cartons made from unknown materials. There’s a good chance that if you can’t find a recycling logo on it somewhere it can’t be recycled. However, a growing number of cities are accepting milk cartons, so be sure to check on the rules in your area.
Plastic shopping bags. Those flimsy bags that you get from the supermarket? You can’t recycle those. As a result, many cities and stores are encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags. If you forget your bags at home, however, fear not: many supermarkets now accept your used plastic bags to be recirculated.
So that eliminates a lot of common household waste from being recycled. However, there are plenty of items you might not be aware of that can be tossed into the recycling bin.
Lesser known recyclable items around the house
Even if something isn’t eligible for curbside recycling doesn’t mean you should just toss it into the trash. There are many items that you can drop off or donate. Here are just a few items that are likely sitting in your house right now:
Old cell phones and electronics. Our gadgets are becoming obsolete at an ever-increasing rate. That means many of us have a lot of old tech junk sitting in boxes in our basements. The good news is that several stores accept free drop-offs of old electronics for reuse and recycling.
Mattresses and furniture. Large items like mattresses and old furniture are a pain to get rid of. They’re also likely useful to someone out there. For mattresses and box springs, try contacting retailers to see if they reuse them for materials. Furniture that is still in usable condition can be placed on Craigslist or donated to a thrift store like Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Oil and ink. Run out of ink in your printer? Online retailers will often pay you for your old cartridges. Also, if you recently changed your oil, drop it off at an auto parts store to be recycling into other automotive materials.
Plant smartOne of the first mistakes beginner gardeners make is planting the wrong vegetables or the wrong proportions of vegetables. One or two squash plants, for example, will provide ample amounts of squash for most small families. So, think about the meals you love to cook and what vegetables they require. Then find out how much those plants yield. Some vegetables can be planted and harvested at many times throughout the growing season. If you eat lots of leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), don't plant a huge row all at once. Instead, plant in intervals of two or three weeks so you can reap the rewards throughout the season. Similarly, many lettuces (such a romaine) are able to be continually harvested--that means there's no need for pulling the whole planet out of the ground and replanting.
Plan your mealsTo get the most out of your garden plan a weekly menu that incorporates items from your garden. If your tomatoes look like they're ripening, plan for making tomato sauce, pizza, or caprese sandwiches the following week. Get creative with recipes. If you have a surplus of peppers, try different stuffed pepper recipes. The internet is your best friend when it comes to discovering new uses for surplus vegetables.
A garden should be useful to you year-round, not just during the autumn harvest season. There are several methods of preserving your vegetables. The way you choose depends on your own need. Common means of preservation include:
- Freezing meals. Remember those stuffed peppers? You don't have to eat them every day of the week once your peppers are ripe. Cook up some rice, beans, and sauce, stuff your peppers and bake. Eat however much you want and place the rest in airtight bags in the freezer. They'll make great lunches for when you're in a rush.
- Blanching and steaming. If you're not quite sure how you'll want to use your vegetables but you know you'll use them later blanching and steaming are great options. Boil or steam them for five minutes then toss them into a bucket of ice-water to cool. Once cool, drain them and freeze them in bags.
- Canning. This method takes some preparation and research but canning is a great way to save fruits and vegetables for use throughout the year and are great if you don't have extra space in your freezer for frozen vegetables.
Excitement and the chance to live in a better neighborhood and a house that meets all of your family's needs and wants isn't the only thing that packing and moving brings. Moving to a new house can bring feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and even anxiety. You're not the only one who might experience feelings of unease as a house move nears. Your kids might feel stressed about the change.
How moving to a new house could unnerve your kids
If your kids have gone through just one unpleasant change, they might associate change with unwanted experiences. Whether you realize it or not, your kids could think that moving to a new home will bring bad changes their way. For example, your children might create images of not:
- Fitting in with kids who already live in the new neighborhood
- Seeing their current friends, the kids who live in the neighborhood you're leaving, again
- Adjusting well to attending a new school
- Feeling left out as they become the "new kid" everywhere they go
These fears can create physical symptoms. Your children might:
- Feel nauseous
- Experience significant appetite changes and eat more or less
- Struggle to get a good night of sleep
- Sleep more than normal as a way to avoid dealing with unwanted thoughts and emotions
- Spend more time alone as they ponder the many experiences that the move could create
Helping your kids enjoy a stress free house move
To reduce your children's stress, include them in move discussions. Start talking with your kids about a house move as soon as you start giving serious consideration to relocating. This helps your children to feel heard and important.
Talking with your children about moving to a new home lets your children know that their thoughts about moving really matter. It gives your kids a voice.
Fortunately, there are more ways to help your kids adjust to a house move. You could:
- Take your kids with you the next time you visit neighborhoods that you're seriously thinking about moving to.
- Let your children know what each member of the family can do to make the move smooth
- Point out great features of the new house
- Highlight advantages that your kids can gain from the move (e.g. more sports events, better schools, more entertainment options)
- Plan moves when your children don't have other major events going on in their lives
- Ask your children to share their thoughts and feelings about the move with you (but, don't pressure your kids to talk)
- Observe your kids and offer assistance and support as needed (For example, you might share uneasiness that you feel about packing, meeting new neighbors and getting accustomed to a new work commute.)
Stress free house moves for kids don't happen on their own
Bills, house repairs and hours of heavy lifting and packing may cost you sleep as you prepare to move into a new house. You might even think that your spouse and you are the only people who are losing sleep because you keep thinking about what will happen after you move. But, you'd be wrong. Your kids might be worried about the move.
Start talking to your kids early about house moves to reduce, and maybe even eliminate, house move worries. Also, take other focused actions to make moving to a new house and neighborhood stress free for you and your kids.
However, America is filled with homes that are inspired by numerous cultures, their styles spanning centuries of innovation. America is a melting pot and its houses are no exception. As a result, many homes are a blend of styles.
Some style blends are more successful than others. The term “McMansion” has been used to describe a type of large house that is being developed across the country. These houses typically are an assortment of features that can’t really be called a cohesive style. Another way to think of a McMansion is like choosing items off of a dollar menu--they might not fit together in a particularly tasteful way, but they’re all things you crave.
That being said, there are many styles that share similarities with McMansions that architects consider to be postmodern or “New American.” These homes are often a combination of Traditional style homes and other styles such as Greek Revival and cottage style.
Style isn’t just for looks
The style of early American architecture was heavily inspired by factors like climate and available resources. New England colonial houses were and still are built with steep roofs to shed the heavy load of snow in the winter time.
In the southwest, homes were built with adobe, or sun-dried bricks, due to the lack of other building materials. But also, adobe stays cool even on the scorching summer days faced by the southwest region of the country.
In architecture, as in all sciences, form follows function. So, it’s a good idea to keep these factors in mind when you’re shopping for your next home.
The most common styles
We’ve only just scratched the surface of the hundreds of home styles that are to be found across the country. Building such a list would require a full-length book. So here, we’re just going to mention some of the most common house architectural styles throughout the United States.
Cape Cod. This early colonial home style has changed a bit over the years, becoming bigger and incorporating additions and garages. However, one aspect that most Cape Cod houses have in common is the symmetry between the doors and windows. Cape style houses have two windows on the left, a front door in the center, and two windows on the right. The siding was traditionally made from wooden shingles, but in modern day they can be made from a number of materials, including stone, brick, and vinyl.
Revival. Revival houses attempt to bring back certain characteristics of historical buildings. Greek revival is common in affluent suburbs of the United States. They are typically painted white, include large white columns at the entry way, and are at least two floors. Gothic Revival omits the columns and adds ornate trim along its steep roof edges. They are typically made from brick, especially dark red in color.
Dutch Colonial. The most obvious indicator that you might be looking at a Dutch style house is the roof which usually has two different pitch angles and flared eaves. These homes originated in New York and New Jersey but have since spread across the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas of the United States.
Craftsman. Originating in Southern California, the craftsman style home is a bit trickier to identify than more traditional styles. However, they’re making a big comeback due to their notable interior designs. This includes exposed roof rafters, detailed interior woodwork, and large, single-paned windows that let in lots of natural light.