Raelee’s Recycling Initiative: Week One

The name is not as catchy as I’d like it to be, but it’s better than “Going Green and Living With Less”, that was just way too long.

Alright, since proposing this idea to my family, We are ALREADY beginning to see a difference. I’ve already noticed that our trash pile has gone down, but our recycling has increased, which means things aren’t just being thrown into a dumpster! Yay Raelee’s family!

In the first week, I focused on working with Sister. Sister is almost 9, so I felt like starting with her and getting her excited about the project would not only be easier than trying to tell my mother what to do, but would also lead to healthy productive habits. Train ‘em young. We started with learning to look at the packages of things that we eat, and to look for the recycling label instead of just assuming one way or another (In fact, Mother is already picking up this habit, by looking at the package while at the grocery store. We’ll work towards buying in bulk next). We are also avid paper plate users, so teaching Sister to recycle a practically clean paper plate versus just throwing it away was a big step. I’m also trying to encourage Family members to not be such avid paper plate users. Maintaining a relatively empty sink has helped in this regard as well. We all lead very fast and busy lives, so chores tend to take the backburner, hence the paper plate addiction. By keeping the kitchen eyesore level relatively low, paper plates seem to be sought out less.

Sister and I also started going through her room. Sister has so many toys (SO MANY) and many of them don’t get played with because she doesn’t want them, or forgets she has them. SO, when cleaning up her room last week we brought along three extra sorting containers. When putting an item away, it could either go into trash, recycling, give away, or organized away (keep). I made sure that while working through her items, I asked her “Do you need this?” instead of “Do you want this?”.
The one word made all the difference.
I could see that she took a minute to really think about it. After working through her room for almost three hours, we left with a clean room, half a box of things to give away, half a bag of trash, and half a bag of recycling. We had only thoroughly gone through a third of her room, but we both left feeling pretty good about ourselves. I also realized that not only am I emotionally attached to my own junk, but apparently, I am attached to some of Sister’s things as well. Like her little pig puppet that was a family favorite when it was given to Toddler Sister, or her super pretty purple belly dancing costume that fetus Raelee would have worn to shreds.

For art projects and crafts that she’s made and really wanted to keep, we put them away in a photo album. That way they are accessible, but not collecting dust and hogging her desk space. Next time we go through her room, we’ll have to test all her markers though. The child has an entire drawer full of drawing utensils and there is NO way that they are all usable.

This week was also used to educate myself on what we are allowed to recycle in our city, with consideration of our condominium (because apparently, there are different rules!? Who knew!?). Bellevue has a great website, with links and pictures and lists and everything.

I found out tons of useful information!

Did you know that certain kinds of lightbulbs are recyclable? You have to go to a specific location to drop them off, but now I know to set “dead” light bulbs aside instead of hesitantly placing them in the trash. Washington’s program is funded by a $0.25 tax that is added per acceptable bulb. So, if you buy one of those specific bulbs, it costs slightly more, but that difference goes to recycling them at the end of its lifespan. Pretty cool! The program was started in 2015, so I don’t feel too guilty because I haven’t thrown out too many bulbs, but it just makes me think carefully about ALL our waste. What else can I recycle?!

I can also recycle electronic waste. Started in 2009, Washington developed E-Cycle, “a free program that provides responsible recycling of computers (including laptop and “tablet” PCs), monitors, TVs, portable DVD players and e-readers” and have recycled over 3 million pounds of electronics (according to their fun little counter thing on the website). The website also offers information on where to drop off old computer mice and keyboards, and electronics that still work.

You can also send off old packaging supplies like packing peanuts, unless you resuse them yourself.
There is also a special way to get rid of old medications. Find out more here: www.takebackyourmeds.org which will be super helpful for my family especially.

~Raelee


While my health has pushed me to put this project aside a little, it’s still something I actively think about and I’m still trying to make those smart choice. Even if I’m not elbow deep in progress.

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