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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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