Small steps make a big difference in improving the health of our planet. Brush up on your recycling dos and don’ts with these easy-to-follow steps. Check with your municipality since recycling rules can be a little different everywhere.
1. Learn the rules of your recycling program
Knowing your neighborhood’s system helps prevent waste from ending up in the landfill instead of being processed. Find out how your neighborhood handles waste by searching or calling your municipal offices.
2. Make sure items are empty, clean, and dry
A quick rinse is all that’s necessary to get jars, cans, or bottles ready for disposal. If food is stuck or soaked through on paper, like greasy pizza on cardboard, it’s best to just throw it out.
3. Take-out boxes should be thrown out
Your morning to-go coffee cup can’t be recycled. Unfortunately, neither can the doggie bag from dinner. That’s because foods and beverages stored in cardboard containers have a wax or plastic coating to prevent leaking and must go in the garbage.
4. Break down cardboard boxes
Before you dump that cardboard packaging from your favorite online retailer in the recycling, remove any plastic labels, tape, and accessories, as these cannot be processed. Envelopes with a little plastic window should also be discarded.
5. Check your plastic
Almost everything today is made from plastics, from bottles to bags. Look for the universal plastic resin symbol (three chasing arrows) and numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5. These items can be tossed in the curbside pickup. Give these products a quick rinse to remove any food particles or leftover grime like in tip #2. Bring your plastic bags to our stores to recycle.
While some communities accept glass items, others have separate pickups or don’t accept them at all. If your neighborhood includes it, bottles and jars are typically accepted, but broken mirrors or housewares are not.
7. Find the right location
Household items like batteries, old clothes, and electronics don’t belong in the recycling. Batteries, for example, contain toxic metals that can pollute water and soil if not disposed of properly. Check out local drop-off locations, including big box retailers and churches that accept these goods and remove them properly.