Recycling Ideas that Work for Teens

So you recycle, right? (We hope so!)

But are you making the largest impact you can?

We’re huge fans of the Green Youth Movement, a group founded by a teen who agrees that youth like us can make a difference for the future of our environment. They have some awesome ideas for making sure we’re making the most positive impact through reducing, reusing and recycling. The following are some of the tips I’ll be following myself this year:

Buy products with less packaging. This one is tough, because I usually think more about the product than the packaging. But the more materials are used in packaging, the more energy has been used to produce it. Even if the packaging is recyclable, it’s better to use less (remember that “reduce” part?).

Use less AC and heat. I like to be comfy, but it’s critical that we reduce our energy consumption to help our planet. Throw on a hoodie instead of cranking up the heat, or drink a glass of ice water to cool down rather than using more air conditioning.

Choose “washable” over “disposable”. Forego paper plates for reusable ones, replace paper towels with cloth napkins, and use a travel mug for coffee and tea rather than disposable cups. These small everyday actions will reduce the amount of materials we add to landfills.

Recycle electronics, too. Paper and plastics aren’t the only items we can recycle. Find an electronics recycling day in your hometown, or see if you can donate your unused phones and other electronics to a local charity organization.

Plant a tree. This action is both fun and rewarding: trees help clean our air and they’re beautiful, too. You can do this action on your own, with friends or through an organization like Trees Atlanta.

For more tips, check out GYM’s recommendations here.

How do you reduce, reuse and recycle?

Resolutions to Make our World a Better Place in 2012

There are tons of resolutions out there with tips about self-improvement. But what about resolutions to improve our community? We hope this list helps you make 2012 your most environmentally-friendly year yet!

Go outside.

This one seems simple, but it’s an important first step in achieving your environmental goals. The more often people experience the beauty of nature, the more they want to protect it. Visit a farm, join a community garden, walk around your neighborhood, play a field sport, or watch a theater production on an outside stage.

Learn the other R’s.

You know them: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In our efforts to recycle, we often forget to think about the other two. To reduce, think about cleaning out what you don’t need and donating extra items to a local charity. For reuse, try a DIY project with materials you have on hand for a birthday gift rather than buying a new present.

Make mindful transportation choices.

We’ve talked about how walking and biking help save our air, but how do we really commit to making meaningful change in a lifestyle choice as big as transportation? Take note of where you travel, how often you go and how you usually get there. Then think about alternatives. The more aware we are of our habits, the more power we have to change them.

Support Eco-fashion

More and more companies are beginning to consider how their production of clothing effects the environment. Dying for a new pair of jeans? Consider investing a pair that uses less water to make, such as Levi’s Water<Lessjeans. For sportswear, think about shopping at Patagonia’s reuse store on ebay, the Common Threads Initiative. Read clothing tags and online product descriptions to see if the materials used are organic. Ecouterre offers a list of eco-fashion predictions for 2012, along with some links to organizations already making a difference.

Join a green organization at your school.

Many high schools have clubs committed to saving the environment. If there isn’t a group you’re interested in, consider starting one. Organize a group to pick up litter, write letters to political leaders about the environmental topic you care about most, or start a carpool chain.

Help your parents make green choices at home.

Does your family compost? Shop local and organic? Eat vegetarian? Find a recipe that uses local ingredients and cook a “green” meal for your family. You can also attach a list of the recyclables your neighborhood collects on the fridge, or offer to take your bike somewhere rather than asking for a ride.

Keep educating yourself.

If you’re on this blog, you’ve already started learning about how young people can make a positive impact on the environment. The more you know about environmental issues, the more power you have to create change. Learn as much as you can through online research, reading books, watching documentaries, and talking to environmental sustainability professionals.

Share your green knowledge.

As you learn more about eco-friendly choices you can make, tell your friends!

Make a list of your own green resolutions.

Once you discover the topics you care most about, make a list of concrete goals that you can accomplish. (Example: I will ride my bike to school at least once a week.) This time next year, review your original list and see how far you’ve come. You may be surprised!

What “green” goals do you want to achieve in 2012?