Poor Mother Earth.  She’s suffocating under the millions of tons of plastics, paper, and all the other garbage we toss out every day. The latest statistics say we’re producing more than 3.5 million tons of trash daily in the US. Yes, you read that right. Every. Single. Day. 

Now multiply that times 365 days and then add in all the rubbish that the rest of the world chucks out. Pretty scary thought, isn’t it? It’s a wonder there’s any space left for people and plants and animals.

But what if all of us — you and me and our next-door-neighbors — recycled our throw-aways?

And what if we did it in our schools and at work?

And what if recycling could be painless and save you a few bucks at the same time?

Would you do it then?

See, the key is the “painless” part.

If it’s not easy all our good intentions kind of fall by the wayside. It’s just human nature.

And if it costs us money, we’ll find excuses not to recycle.

You know we will.

But we can make recycling painless and save money at the same time.

Here are 7 simple things you can do to clean up our beautiful planet. Simple painless recycling. . .

When you go shopping, take along reusable shopping bags and say “No” to the single use plastic bags. The key is remembering to grab those shopping bags before you go to the store. Keep them in your car where you can see them and pretty soon it will become a habit. It took a while to get in the habit of taking my reusable bags into the store with me but now it’s second nature. Painless recycling!

While we on the subject of plastic, let’s talk about water bottles. How many plastic water bottles do you use in a week? A month? A year? They really add up, don’t they? So invest in a metal, reusable water bottle and start saving money. The initial investment is pretty cheap. And at $1.00 a pop for water in a plastic bottle, think of how much you’ll save in a year. Ka-ching!

Do you pack lunches for your kids or brown bag it to work? Instead of all those use-once-and-throw-away sandwich bags, switch to washable plastic containers. There are tons of shapes and sizes available. (Not all plastics are bad!) And if you want to avoid plastic containers completely, there are other options available like metal bento boxes or glass snapware.

There’s a lot of paper trash that could be recycled.

Are you recycling your newspapers and magazines and junk mail? How about the envelopes your bills and letters come in? And what about all the paper at work? How much of that goes in the trash instead of going to a recycling center? Paper recycling is an easy-peasy thing to do. It’s easy to set up a box to collect all that paper that gets tossed out at work. Do the same thing at home. Painless recycling. There’s no excuse not to do it!

OK, here’s a great way to cut waste and make mealtimes feel a bit more elegant too. Swap out paper napkins for cloth ones. Simple. For this one you don’t need to recycle anything.

Overstuffed Mailboxes

Declutter your mailbox. How many catalogs do you get every week? And even if you don’t order, they just keep coming and coming and coming. This one is truly a painless way to recycle. Unsubscribe from all that mail you don’t want. It just takes a few minutes. And if you’re sick and tired of all those credit card offers cluttering up your mailbox, just go to to opt out.

Dead cell phones, old computers, and used printer cartridges are a big problem in landfills. They leach heavy metals into the soil and water when they degrade. And OK, it does take a bit of effort to recycle these items but it’s not that hard or time-consuming. Check out for places to recycle just about anything. Enter your zip code and the material you want to recycle.

Small changes can make a big difference.

Painless recycling.

You can do it!

Remember we don’t have any other place to live!



10,000 Butterflies is dedicated to planting hope and growing change. Every one of us has the power to create positive change — in our own lives and in the lives of others. Together we can solve problems and build stronger communities. 10,000 Butterflies is a place to connect with others making good things happen, to find resources, to be inspired and to celebrate what connects us instead of what divides us.

Please join us.

Bonnie Pond is the founder of the 10,000 Butterflies Project and author of The Power of Three: How to be Happy and Get What You Want in Life (Without Doing Anything Illegal, Immoral, or Unethical) and Unlock Your Creativity: 30 Days to a More Creative YOU! 

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