Recycling Tips: Learn The 4 R's, Think Creatively and 'Win the Bin'!

Recycling Tips: Learn The 4 R’s, Think Creatively and ‘Win the Bin’!

(CREDIT: “Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard)

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of recycling tips from Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

You’ve heard me say it before: You all know the three R’s… but in my book there are four.

Rethink is first. Then reduce, reuse and recycle.

As I have also said many times before, “Rethink” is the most important of those — and the most difficult to inspire. I’m looking for ideas, and this article will present you another contest challenge! Enter to win a prize!

Recycling & Reusing

Around these parts, we are pretty good at recycling. Kane County residents recycle between 35 percent and 40 percent of their total waste on average. That means that 60 percent of what you place at the curb goes to a landfill, and 40 percent goes to a recycling facility.


It is important to note that probably close to 10 percent of stuff in the curbside recycling stream is eventually landfilled after the sorting process, because people put things in the recycling that should not be in there in the first place.

I hear great reuse ideas from people all the time. A couple of my favorites are: “I used old paint, blended together, to give my garage interior a new fresh finish,” and “I use my old encyclopedias and other books as plant stand tables in corners to put them at different heights!”

There are countless ideas on the internet if you are interested in trying to reuse more things!

ReThink & Reduce

What I don’t hear a lot about is how you are thinking about your waste.

Turn old credit cards into guitar picks! (CREDIT:

For example, do you think about …

  • The volume of your waste? (How much do you and your family throw in the trash each week?)
  • The make-up of your waste? (What is it you are throwing in the trash can?)
  • Ideas on how to minimize that waste? (How could you stop participating in the activities that create the waste in the first place?)

In this day and age of countless consumer products and disposable incomes, the problem of what to do with the mountains of garbage we produce every day has become paramount. Rethinking our purchases and changing our buying habits can have a huge impact — environmentally, financially and socially.

Buy in bulk, use reusable bags, choose products with recyclable packaging.

Please help me to inspire others by sharing your ideas on how to minimize waste!

Participate to ‘WIN a BIN’!

I would like to challenge you, my readers, to think about the ways you already reduce your waste (existing efforts) and ideas for how you might take the next step in minimizing your overall waste-footprint (new ideas to try) at home and at work!

Please email before Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, with the following information to enter a competition to win an awesome under-the-counter recycling container:

  • Your name, phone, and email address
  • Your existing efforts for reducing waste
  • Your ideas for minimizing waste that you want to try.

The winner will be selected based on most original idea, ease of application (easy to do), and replicability (easy for everyone to do). Responses will be shared in a future article to help inspire your neighbors to follow suit!

Video Inspiration

For a bit of inspiration, watch this short clip, the infamous Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard, which illustrates the problems inherent in a throw-away culture.

We don’t have an endless supply of resources; let’s stop wasting them! It’s time to treasure the simple things, buy less stuff, strive to live simply, and aim for a future where we do not leave landfills as our legacy!

If you have questions, contact Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841 or