Ready, Set, Recycle

When it comes to getting the news, I'm old-fashioned (The New York Times delivered to my door seven days a week) and a bit of a pack rat.

I'm always referring back to stories or stats that caught my eye, so I tend to hold onto all of my Times copies. (The picture below is just one measly stack compared to what used to be piled up in the corner of my room.) And when I do get to cleaning my room and desk space, it consists of sweeping all of my newspapers and magazines and other random junk into a trash bag later to be thrown in the garbage can.

So this morning I made my first lifestyle tweak: I gathered all of those newspapers and magazines and put them into the paper recycling bin for my house. I also collected the bottles, cans, cardboard boxes and other recyclable items in my room and took them down to the other recycling bins that sit outside of my house.

Fortunately, the city where I live, Ann Arbor, has a great recycling program that accepts most papers, cardboard, glasses, a number of plastic types. From now on, I'll be making sure all of my recyclable stuff that I don't want or need anymore gets out to the curb on Monday nights for Tuesday morning pick-ups.

Whether you live in the dorms, an apartment or a house, you likely have some kind of recycling program you can participate in, especially as more and more colleges and universities jump on the green bandwagon and encourage recycling. Ask your resident adviser/building supervisor/landlord what kinds of recycling programs you can participate in.

If you're not satisfied with what's already available, go to your town's or city's Web site to look at what they offer in terms of recycling programs. Maybe you could even convince your landlord to expand your recycling options.

The impact of recycling is huge: If I continue to recycle my newspapers, plastics, aluminum and glass products for the next year, I stand to save more than 400 pounds of CO2, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Recycling isn't a strenuous, time-consuming act, either. It can be as easy as taking those empty cans from that case of beer or soda you recently finished to the grocery store and recycling them. Sometimes you even get money back.

And even if you decide only to recycle class papers that you don't need anymore, that's a big step -- paper is the most common thing found in garbage dumps, making up an average of 35 percent of all landfill content, according to the book "Ready Set Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living."