5 Ways Recycling Can Improve Your Mental Health

Being surrounded by nature helps us recharge and remain sane when we feel turbulent on the inside. The connection between recycling and mental health is what drives people to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

What started as a fad is now considered the new ‘normal’ and rightfully so — the planet has had enough of us not taking accountability for polluting the environment. Sea levels are rising, the temperature of the Earth’s surface is 0.98°C higher than the 20th century’s average, and animals are going extinct. Reversing the trend has never been more urgent and going green is the least you can do to play your part in combating climate change.

With recycling being a key component in reducing global waste, it’s only natural that people have started taking it more seriously. But what if we told you that there are far more benefits to it than what meets the eye? 

You’re well aware of how connected we are to nature. Being surrounded by nature helps us recharge and remain sane when we feel turbulent on the inside. This means that our mental health is directly impacted by it. Add performing simple acts like conserving energy, eating organically, and recycling single-use products to the mix, and you’ve got a foolproof recipe for improved mental wellbeing. 

This seemingly concealed connection between recycling and mental health is what drives people to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. The initial curiosity is then replaced with tangible results like a sense of fulfillment and the desire to do better for the sake of cleaner surroundings. 

Here’s what else you’re guaranteed to experience when switching to a more mindful way of living:

A significantly boosted physical health

This might come as a surprise, but recycling has a positive effect on your physical health as much as it does on your mental health. It doesn’t impact you directly — serotonin and dopamine are the main driving forces behind a good mood and relieved stress — but it jumpstarts the process of making you feel great.

Take cycling to your nearest recycling station as an example. Not only does it improve your heart health and bust your stress levels, but it also allegedly leads to a longer life. Besides, there’s the added benefit of riding the world of excessive waste. 

Reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to involve cycling — a simple usage of recycling bins at your workplace is sufficient for making a difference in how focused and motivated you are at work. And when you’re on top of your game, you’re bound to feel energized enough to go above and beyond.        

A better understanding of your life mission

Don’t roll your eyes just yet; people are constantly turning to Google to find out what their life purpose should look like. Going green and incorporating recycling into your routine might just be the answer they (and you) were looking for. 

Committing to living a more sustainable lifestyle has the power to give you that sense of purpose so many are yearning for. It instills the belief that taking full responsibility for your actions towards mother nature will bring you closer to it and make you feel more fulfilled at the same time. Sorting plastic and composting waste is just the tip of the iceberg — fighting for the common good is the real treasure.

Once you acquire a new perspective about the state of the planet and the meaningfulness behind your everyday actions to make it a better place, you’ll almost automatically peel one layer of anxiety off your shell.  

A heightened sense of self-awareness

Adopting green habits like recycling inevitably leads to a more self-aware and happy life, as evidenced in children at a young age. You’re essentially taking a step back, reflecting on the waste you’re producing, and making an effort to find ways to minimize it. This practice of mindfulness allows you to evaluate your purchasing decisions and make conscious choices going forward. 

What adopting self-awareness in the context of recycling does is help you take a deeper dive into your habits and make sure that they align with your bigger-picture goals. It enables you to shift your priorities accordingly so that what you think, do, and consume serves you and the environment better. The result — a more purposeful approach to your actions, fewer negative emotions, and stable mental health. 

A newly acquired interest in a minimalist lifestyle

Let’s face it — there’s nothing that’ll push you to start living by the motto ‘less is more’ except for the eco-friendly habits you adopt to preserve the environment. You need a certain amount of mental bandwidth to seriously consider exploring the concept of minimalism and stick with it for the long run. 

This is where recycling comes in handy. Starting small leads to a higher likelihood of you actually gaining enough willpower to discover what else you can do to live a greener lifestyle. You’re essentially planting a seed that’ll only grow stronger the more you hold yourself accountable for the things you consume. 

All of a sudden, you’re not interested in purchasing that jacket you saw on sale last week. Not because you don’t like it, but because you don’t see the point of buying it in the first place. You also find yourself thinking twice before buying yet another dishwasher in the plastic bottle because even if it can be recycled, you’d much rather DIY it. 

Buying less starts to seamlessly blend into your lifestyle and you don’t have to spend a lot of mental energy trying to figure out what to wear, watch, or eat. Voila, you’re now more in charge of your mental health than ever before since there isn’t much clutter fogging your brain anymore.   

A yearning for making a difference in your local community

Giving back has always been associated with mental wellbeing. Throw recycling and other eco-conscious habits into the mix, and there’s no way you won’t feel like there’s more to be done to keep the environment clean. Joining local communities with the same vision is one way to do it. 

With ocean pollution affecting the human population and the ecosystem suffering from it too, you might feel particularly motivated to learn more about the detrimental state of the planet and inspire others to join your lead. The sense of belonging you get as a result soothes your mind and makes you feel like you’re bonded with nature on a deeper level. 

Recycling can help you make meaningful and long-lasting life changes 

Don’t think of recycling as an end goal — rather, think of it as a stepping stone towards creating a permanent change in your life. It’s the starting point that will foster your connection with nature and make you realize that there’s indeed a link between the way you treat your surroundings and your mental sanity. You won’t even need to refer to studies to validate your beliefs about the importance of being in tune with nature — your own experience will be sufficient for coming to these conclusions on your own. 

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Recycling is good for the environment, but did you know it can also improve your mental health?

    by Cynthia Madison
    Community//

    Zachary Kirstein of 4G Recycling: “Be Nimble”

    by Charlie Katz
    Community//

    Ryan Smith of Recyclops: “Don’t be afraid to talk about it”

    by Jilea Hemmings
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.