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Sorting the recycle bin

Hi everyone!! The purpose of today’s post is to give a quick & dirty run down of how I sort our recycle bin every couple of weeks to prepare for our curbside pickup. I spent some time tonight going through our 2 household bins, sorting everything out and I decided to film the aftermath!! (Video is below)

Before we get to the video, I wanted to go through some things about recycling that could help you recycle better – or maybe even inspire you to start recycling! If you’re a recycling expert, I’d love for you to share some of your tips and tricks with us too!

Now I know that not every recycling center and curbside pickup service is created equal so I implore you to discover what’s available locally to you. There are TONS of resources out there, but one of my go-to websites is: Earth911. This site has so much helpful info on recycling basics and can even provide local info for you too!

So let’s get into it: Sorting the Recycle Bin…

Things that can be recycled – Part 1: Our Curbside Pickup

  • Clean, broken down cardboard
  • Paper
  • Clean plastic containers that have a recycling symbol on them
  • Clean aluminum foil
  • Clean tin cans
  • Clean aluminum cans
  • Clean metal lids from glass containers

Things that can be recycled – Part 2: Our Local Recycling Center 

  • Clean glass (clear, brown and/or green)
  • Paper
  • Clean aluminum cans
  • Clean plastic containers
  • Clean plastic bags (includes grocery bags, newspaper bags and baggies)
  • Clean plastic film (plastic wrap)
  • They also accept old appliances, some scrap metal and other items I haven’t needed to use them for and don’t feel like listing here

Things that can be recycled – Part 3: Our Local Grocery Store

  • Clean styrofoam containers
  • Clean plastic bags (includes grocery bags, newspaper bags and baggies)
  • Clean plastic film (plastic wrap)

Things that cannot be recycled and why “wish-cycling” is a bad idea!

  • Paper towels, paper napkins and toilet paper
  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • ANYTHING that’s contaminated with foods or beverages – recycled items must be cleaned out before they can be accepted
  • Plastic lids
  • Single serve yogurt cups or K-cups for your Kuerig (although some companies have special recycling programs for these items)
  • Plastic & metal pouches (like capri suns, applesauces, etc.)
  • Also, give this list a whirl

Let’s talk about contamination. I know it’s a lot of work to always wash out your metal, glass and plastic containers. Believe me, I get frustrated sometimes too – especially when something is really difficult to clean (like a dish soap container). However, laziness does NOT pay off when it comes to sorting the recycle bin. Just one contaminated item can ruin an ENTIRE truck load of recycleables. This means that the dirty item and the rest of it’s friends that were being sorted can end up in the landfill! Just think about this for a second… You just finished a big jug of OJ and it’s mostly clean, right? It’s “empty” enough that you need more OJ next time you’re shopping, so you just toss it in the recycle bin. That is WRONG. Not only is that container still contaminated with juice, but now, the entire bin could be contaminated too. And think about the workers at the recycling center. Imagine how many items they see on their conveyer belts EVERY DAY… They’re not getting paid to thoroughly clean your trash. So instead, everything near your OJ container gets tossed… in the landfill. So what was the point of even trying?? (Insert gigantic sigh here)

It’s ok, we all make mistakes and we can do better next time!! Don’t get mad, upset or defeated, it’s a learning process that I’m in too! So let’s just do better.

Why “wish-cycling” is a bad idea… What is “wish-cycling”? Let’s answer that question first: Imagine you’re sorting through the recycle bin and you come across an item you’re not sure of like a single serve yogurt container. It may have a recycle symbol on it, it’s plastic and you washed it out. So you should just toss it into the recycle bin, all easy peasy right? Wrong. Dirty items are not the only things that can contaminate an entire truck full of items… “wish-cycling” can too. Tossing items into the recycling bin that can’t actually be recycled is another form of contamination. So take the few extra moments and look up any items you’re not sure of. It will definitely have a positive impact, I promise.

Now that I’ve talked your ear off and you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed, let’s watch my tired, out of breath, video on Sorting the Recycle Bin.

(Small disclaimer rant: I’m not even going to say “forgive my lack of makeup…” or anything else that’s self depreciating. I know I’m new to sharing myself via video on the internet and I know that if I keep at it, I’ll get better. So if you’re looking to trash me, my voice or my looks, you should take a long, hard look in the mirror yourself and ask yourself why you would want to do that. And then give yourself a hug because you probably need one.)

If you made it this far, I’m giving you a high-5 and a great big hug! Also, go ahead and drop me a comment or a recycling emoji on Instagram/Facebook.

Until next time!

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Thank you Stephani!! This was very helpful, especially the ‘wish’ recycling and contamination.

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