photo taken by: Locator
When I finally decided to go for it and give recycling a try, I stood by the sink with a yogurt container and a steel can, wondering if either of them could be recycled. The whats, and hows of recycling can be daunting, but implementing a recycling routine in your family is an important step in the greening process. Here are some basic tips to help you succeed:
What to Recycle
Start with the items that have the fewest "rules":
- Aluminum: just a simple rinse will do
- Steel Cans: no need to remove labels, rinse
- Newspaper: keep it dry
- Magazines & Glossy Inserts: seperate and keep dry
These are all items that are almost all universally recyclable in any community. The next items will vary in recyclability by your locale's services.
- Plastics: PETE 1 & 2 are the most recycled plastics & include milk jugs, shampoo bottles, soda bottles, etc. Look for the symbol. Take off caps, unless coded 1 or 2.
- Glass: You may have to seperate by color, but never include light bulbs, Pyrex, or windows in this mix. Also take off lids and caps. This would include: beer, soda and wine bottles, as well as glass jars. (Oh, and don't worry about getting the lime out of the beer bottle, it won't ruin the mix!)
- Paper & Paperboard: office paper, cereal boxes, etc. Be careful of wax & paper lined milk cartons and food boxes. These are not recyclable.
- Corrugated Cardboard: keep dry & clean
- Plastic Bags: Keep these dry and clean, and turn them in at your grocery store. Hopefully you don't collect many of these because you have switched to reusable bags.
Where to Recycle
Check with your local waste services for common options:
- Curbside Recycling: generally involves a small fee, however you are provided with bins and it can't get more convenient.
- Recycling Center Drop-off: This is the more common option, and does require a new routine. We were suprised at how close our drop-off really was, and connected our trips with a weekly trip to the library that was close by. Many grocery stores and schools also have these in their parking lots.
How to Collect Your Recycling
It is important to set up your recycling station at home to be convenient and easy to use. Paper bags & makeshift containers will get frustrating very quickly.
- Post a Quick Reference Guide: This helps other members of your family know what to throw in the garbage can, and what things are eligible for recycling. Great cheat sheet here.
- Invest in some Plastic Bins: We use 5 that stack together from our local home improvement store. One of them stays in the kitchen to collect recyclables and is taken to be sorted into the others at the end of the day.
- Assign Recycling duties: Rotate this chore like you do any others in your home. My kids love doing the sorting at the end of the day, and it takes the stress off me!
Important to Remember:
- This is a process! Don't sabotage yourself by demanding perfection, every little bit counts. Your little bit does make a difference, and shouldn't be taken lightly!
- Precycle: Before you buy in the store, take a look at the packaging. Can it be recycled? Could you buy it in a larger container, instead of individual packagings? This is a helpful way to combine reducing and recycling into one step.
Links for the advanced recycler: