Doing the Right Thing the Right Way – A Basic Checklist for Proper Recycling

sustainable green

Most everyone knows how important recycling is to leading a sustainable lifestyle, and though it is better to reduce initial consumption, some waste is inevitable. In the US in 2009, 82 million tons of waste was composted or recycled, 33.8% of the 243 million total tons of waste produced. So while this number is not ideal, that is 33.8% that is not going into a landfill. However, that number can be better! Many people do not recycle either because they do not understand how to or they think it is too difficult.

So for those new to recycling as well as old veterans, there are some basics to remember to make sure that you are recycling in the most efficient way possible!

  1. Check your numbers! All plastic “disposable” products are labeled with a resin number which tells you what kind of plastic the product is made of, which is also important for how that type of plastic is recycled. Now that Monroe County is accepting all plastics numbers 1-7, with the exception of number 6 (Styrofoam), there is less work in making sure you are only throwing the right numbers into the bins.
  2. Give it a rinse! Though containers do not need to be spotless to be recycled, a certain amount of residue in a container can lead to it being disposed of at the recycling facility as opposed to being processed. To make sure that does not happen, get containers as clean as you can to avoid contributing to contamination.
  3. Separate! Though household recycling collection is typically all taken by the same truck, paper and cardboard should still be separated from plastic, metal, and glass. And as always, they need to be separated when you are out and about.
  4. If it’s metal, it’s probably recyclable! Monroe county  is now accepting all household metals for recycling, so old pots, pans, silverware, and even scrap metal can be recycled if it is not in usable condition.
  5. Reduce, Reuse…. There is a reason those two things are before “recycling” in the mantra. Do not make recycling your first resort, buy products with less packaging, and reuse or repurpose items when possible before letting them hit the bin.

 

By Grace Interlichia, 2014

Source: http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/United_States_Recycling_Statistics

 

3 Comments on “Doing the Right Thing the Right Way – A Basic Checklist for Proper Recycling

  1. Most people recycle because they feel is the right thing to do, but if they also make a little money by recycling, so much the better. I think that education is an important key to recycling. I also think that incentives are important. We’re all familiar with the deposit on a bottle which is refunded when you return the model to the vendor. If people received a cheque, even a small check at the end of the year from the garbage collection company for their recycled garbage I’m sure that they would be far more enthusiastic about sorting garbage into separate containers.

  2. Some extrememly useful tips you have shared with us, thank you. Here in the UK, recycling is becoming a bigger part of life and all households are given seperate bins and containers to sort their own recycling material, so as time goes on, it will become easier to recycle than it currently is.

    It would also be useful if people were educated on the importance of recycling and why its so important as many people within my family dont seem so bothered, when they should be.

  3. “Most everyone knows how important recycling is to leading a sustainable lifestyle, and though it is better to reduce initial consumption, some waste is inevitable. In the US in 2009, 82 million tons of waste was composted or recycled, 33.8% of the 243 million total tons of waste produced. So while this number is not ideal, that is 33.8% that is not going into a landfill. However, that number can be better! Many people do not recycle either because they do not understand how to or they think it is too difficult.”

    How would we evaluate what is ideal? If we admit that some waste is inevitable, does it mean that 100% of waste ought to be recycled? What if that harms the environment? And what does it tell us about the actual value of recycling if people, after 30 years of promotion, still “don’t know how” and if people think it is too difficult?

    If, as research shows, recycling of regular MSW (I am not talking about toxic stuff or valuable stuff), uses more resources overall (not in all places at all times of course) than disposing of them does, what exactly about that is sustainable? If recycling results in more air pollution is that sustainable? If it results in more water pollution? If it results in the burning of more fossil fuels? How can we know if it does or does not do these things?

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