Recycling Saves Money and the Environment

Being frugal means being a good steward of your resources. What better way to be a good steward than to make sure your stuff doesn’t end up in the county landfill when you’re through with it?

Besides being a good use of resources, recycling can save you money. In Oregon we get 5 cents back for every plastic bottle we recycle. We get money back for aluminum cans, too, though I forget how much.

Recycling also saves money on your garbage bill. In our town, the sanitary department charges by the number of trash cans we use. By recycling, we’ve managed to pay for only one trash can per week, even when our children were in diapers.

It’s amazing how many things you can recycle these days. Until I looked at our sanitary department’s website, I didn’t realize how many things I was throwing in the trash that I should have been recycling.

Here’s the list of recyclables from our city’s website:

  • corrugated cardboard
  • frozen food boxes
  • magazines & catalogues
  • cereal & cracker boxes
  • opened mail & junk mail
  • office paper
  • paper egg cartons
  • shredded paper (strips only)
  • paper 6-pack holders
  • gift wrap (non-foil)
  • shoe boxes
  • telephone books
  • paper bags
  • newsprint & glossy ads
  • plastic bottles & tubs (yogurt, tofu, cottage cheese, etc.)
  • all metal lids
  • aluminum foil & tin cans
  • glass
  • used motor oil

Before you throw boxes in the recycling bin, make sure you take off any Box Tops for Education. You can donate the box tops to your local school, and they will receive money by redeeming them.

Another recycling tactic I’d like to try soon is composting. I know compost would be great for my new garden, but I don’t know exactly how to compost yet. Time to do a little research.

By reducing what you throw in the trash, you save the environment and a little extra money, too.

Do you recycle? Do you recycle as much as you could? Do you have any advice about composting to share? I’d love to hear about it!


By , on Mar 11, 2008
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Hi, this is Jean, I’m currently finishing my school paper on the Green Movement. Your article is of great help, thanks very much! Reuse, reduce, recycle!

  2. Great info in this article. Recycling is one of the three R’s and such an important part of preserving the environment. For more tips on how to save cash and the planet check out

  3. Jay:

    Great article!

    If I could add a couple suggestions regarding your list of what to recycle,

    Cut back on junk mail, newspapers, etc that you don’t read/want by contacting them and ask to be taken off the list.

    Reuse items such as turning old magazines into unique wrapping paper, or use egg cartons,a nd other materials as art projects for your kids (if you have them).

    Keep up the wonderful frugal tips!

  4. Shannon:

    Hi, I’m new to the sight and have been browsing the posts….but YES I do recycle, and I love recycling my plastic bottles and aluminum cans, espically here in California, we pay an extra cost at the point of sale when purchasing these things…the California Recycling Value (CRV), so I have a designated trash can for these and I take them and not only get my money back for that fee, but extra….lets say a 12 pack of soda has a CRV of 35 cents, I get back 5 cents per can meaning I get back 20 cents extra…and my husband has set out a recycling bin for these at work, because they were just thowing them away and so I get about $30.00 in my pocket a month for him simply bagging them up and bringing them home. Not much to some, but it does add up!

  5. sandy schmeling:

    Becky, we bring our tubs into the local meals on wheels site. Alot of times they have a sit down dinner for folks who live in the area and can get there. They use the tubs for leftovers for the guests to buy an extra meal to take home.

  6. Our trash pickup is through Waste Management, and I don’t think they allow us to do recycling. No one in our neighborhood has a recycling can.

    I’d love to recycle, I guess I need to check to see if there is a recycling center near by. However, I think after a while you’d do more harm by driving out there than you’d help by recycling :(

  7. Found you via the Top 100 PF blogs list!

    I’d love to see what you decide to do about composting. We just planted a flower bed for the first time yesterday, and I would love to use compost as fertilizer (if that can be done)!

  8. Lynnae:

    Wow I’m really amazed at how many states don’t offer refunds for recycling, or worse, that charge for picking up recycling! Hopefully that will change soon.

    I live in a pretty “green” area, so the options for being kind to the environment are abundant here. I think there are even “green” communities being built in our town.

  9. Mrs. PT:

    I am an avid recycler. My tree hugger ways are likely due to growing up in southern California.

    Unfortunately, in Texas (at least the area I live in) doesn’t offer any monetary compensation for this good habit. We do it anyway!!

    Thanks for your posts, I enjoy reading them.

  10. dawn:

    I’m ashamed to say I’m quite new to the whole recycling thing. My friends and family were always in disbelief when they found out I(the gardening nature girl) didn’t recycle. I used to like to justify my laziness by thinking “we just don’t have the room” for sorting and storing recyclables. Last semester, the youngest son was in an environmental science class at school, and he motivated me to finally do it. It is so not as big of a deal that I had made it into. We recycle all that our community’s recycling center will take. This also allows us to use the smallest trash receptacle that the city has – which keeps are monthly garbage removal cost low. It feels really good to not have not recycling on my conscious, too!
    We have composted for years, because we are huge garden fanatics. It’s really fun for the kids to discover all the earthworms that will take up residence in your compost pile, too! (Could be a nice little side business for your son Sam – selling earth worms as fishing bait this summer?)
    You know what too? People buy those BTFE & Campbells soup labels on Ebay – it’s crazy!

  11. Tom:

    The box tops for education is a great program. It reminds me of the campbells soup labels back in the day that helped the schools.

    I live in Michigan and I pretty much make it a habit to return cans because you get the ten cents back. I think its a great way to get the community to recycle because even the ones that don’t return the bottles, I always see people digging through the trash looking for bottles, haha.

  12. I have a recycling bin but it really gets on my nerves that I actually have to pay EXTRA every month to recycle. Im not sure if thats typical, but around here all the waste services charge extra for it.

  13. Fabs:

    Just last week I called our garbage pickup and switched from 3 cans to 1 a week! Because we have been recycling we have consistently only had one can a week for 4 people. It’s a great feeling. I would love to compost, but we have bear problems in the summer where we live, so that scares me.

  14. Well…not only do we not save money by recycling, it actually costs us $5 extra a month to be able to recycle, since we pay for private trash pick up. But, for us, it’s worth it knowing that our things that are recyclable are being disposed of properly.

    Oh, and speaking of composting, we are wanting to start composing this spring. I have left our vegetable garden alone all winter, and now I seriously need to clean it out come spring to be ready for planting.

  15. Lee:

    We save the boxtops for education, and compost in the yard, but other than that, I believe recycling is more trouble than it’s worth…they don’t pay for cans or bottles around here anymore, and there’s not many places for taking the recyclables. We can take up to 4 bags of household garbage to our local dump for free, so that’s what we do. I know that’s not very environmentally friendly, but I don’t have the energy or inclination to do all of that separating, with all that I have to do already. But I’m fine if others want to do it:)

  16. See how I recycled our coffee table into a headboard for our daughter at http://southernseven.blogspot......board.html.

  17. Christine:

    I do compost, I bought a composter from our county last year, and plan to use that compost and move it to a new area, and start all over, this spring.
    I compost with the coffee grounds, fruit/veggies peelings/waste, grass clippings, you can weed your garden, and put them in a dark trash bag in the sun for 1-2 weeks to kill them, then you can compost them, too. newspapers….I keep a small trash can in the kitchen for my compost pile.
    We also recycle, plastics (1 and 2) and newspapers/cardboard. I am anal, I fold up the cardboard food boxes, too. Cans, etc. BUT, here in NJ, we don’t get money back. It goes out to the curb, and the township picks it up!!!!

  18. Bellen:

    With a 5 year old “composting” can be very easy. Using just your kitchen scraps, puree them in the blender using a small amount of water. Now, ask your 5 year old if he wants to dig a hole. Be sure he understands he can only dig in the garden if a parent is there. Now, dig a shallow hole or a shallow trench, dump the puree in, cover up. It will be absorbed into the garden in about 24 hours. Hole/trench can be in unused part of garden or next to/around plants. Used this method when we lived in a duplex and could not have a compost pile. Use it now for my grow boxes.
    For a regular compost pile, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service, part of the state government/state university system, there is an office in every county. They will have free info and probably a demo or a class offered. I’ve never had a compost pile smell or attract any animals (rats, mice, etc)

  19. I love to recycle.

    You’re lucky you can recycle the butter/cottage cheese tubs. We can only recycle the plastics that are a 1 or 2. It’s so frustrating because we keep as many non-recyclable tubs as we can to reuse, but our cupboard is full, so now they go in the trash.

    Does anyone know of someplace I could check with who might be able to reuse or recycle these containers?

  20. Kathy:

    Composting is easy. Just think if you left something natural outside how it deterioates? That is exactly what composting is only speeded up by what you add. You can add your kitchen trash like eggs, veggie scraps, peelings, coffee and tea grounds. Anything that came from the earth can go back there. The secret to composting is “keeping up the heat”. You need heat and moisture. So from time to time water your compost. We use a pile, we get the kids to put every stick and branch in one area. Then anything else including extra grass, leaves and whatever we have in the kitchen. You can also use left over fertilizer to get it going faster. We used some old fertilizer that we didn’t know what to do with. In a few months your pile will be flat, it is fun to watch actually.

  21. Thanks, Lynnae – I love the suggestion about donating Box Tops to the local school! I never knew what to do with them before.

    I also recently learned that our county occasionally offers a composting class, so perhaps you might find a free one in your area as well.

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