Many local governments have well-established recycling programs that provide either curbside pickup at your home or operate neighborhood dropoff points. You may be asked to put all your material for recycling - bottles, food and beverage cans, paper, newspapers and magazines, cardboard, and recyclable plastics - into one box separate from the rest of your household trash. Or you may be asked to separate each type of recyclable material into different boxes for collection.
If your community doesn't offer government-sponsored services, keep an eye out for school recycling drives and look for commercial businesses in your area that offer weekly recycling pickup. There's likely to be a fee involved, but it's worth it to divert waste that would otherwise end up in the trash. Increasingly, stores also are offering recycling services as a response to customer demand. The office-supply store Staples, for example, lets you drop off used rechargeable batteries, empty printer ink cartridges, and even unwanted electronics such as televisions and computers, and most Ikea stores accept batteries and CFLs for disposal.
To find recycling resources in your community, check with your local government. Earth 911 (earth911.com) and the National Recycling Coalition (www.nrc-recycle.org) also can help. Of course, if your state has instituted a refundable deposit on certain containers (such as plastic beverage bottles), there's likely to be plenty of local bottle depots where you can drop off the items and claim your money.
If your municipality or county doesn't already tackle waste reduction, write to local politicians or representatives asking them to put the issue on their agendas. You can find more information about zero waste initiatives at Zero Waste America (www.zerowasteamerica.org) and Eco-Cycle (www.ecocycle.org).
To make recycling as easy as possible - and to prevent it from becoming an overwhelming task - set up a home recycling center that works for your family. If you need to drive somewhere to drop off the recycling, plan to stop by the recycling center on your way to another destination. That way, you're not making a special trip, which costs you extra time, fuel, and greenhouse gas emissions.