The average American generates a lot of trash, about 4.4 pounds per person according to the EPA. Recycling is a great way to reduce the amount of trash going to landfills, prevent pollution, and conserve resources.
Most of us were taught in elementary school to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but figuring out what items are actually recyclable can be daunting. Consumers want to do the right thing but often find it confusing. Variation in recycling programs across the country and unclear labeling make the task a challenge for the average person.
When we recycle correctly, we give products a new life and improve the environment. You can do your part to help keep the recycling system strong by keeping it clean and free of contaminants. Here are a few tips to remember when recycling at home.
- DO YOUR RESEARCH Look into guidelines in your area and read up on what your town or city accepts for recycling. Doing a little bit of research will ensure that you don’t end up tossing something that will clog the system.
- CLEAN & EMPTY A little bit of food residue is okay, but everything should be as clean and dry as possible to avoid contaminating the rest of the materials.
- NO PLASTIC BAGS Plastic bags and plastic wrap are recyclable, but not through your curbside pick-up. These items get tangled in the equipment at the recycling facility and cause issues. Recyclables should be loose in the bin and not in plastic bags.
- WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT If you are not sure if something is recyclable, the safest thing to do is throw it in the trash, so you don’t contaminate the recycling.
- GO BEYOND THE KITCHEN Don’t forget you can recycle other items throughout your home, such as bathroom items like soap containers, shampoo, and conditioner bottles