Facts and statistics about our trash can be truly astonishing.
For instance, did you know that we throw out enough water bottles every year to circle the planet four times. Or, it takes at least a century for a disposable diaper to break down in a landfill.
It is these types of facts that make us want to do a better job of recycling. We don’t want to be responsible for billions of Styrofoam cups dumped in the trash every year. We certainly don’t want to contribute to the water pollution impacting the entire planet, including the fish we consume.
So, what can you do? Recycle. But how?
Here are seven basic recycling rules your household needs to know:
1. Clean and Dry
While it is convenient to just toss out your dirty, soiled, and half-filled soda bottles, spaghetti sauce cans, and juicy metal cans for your lentils, this isn’t the way you’re supposed to recycle. Municipalities highly recommend keeping your recyclables clean – they don’t need to be squeaky clean and sterilized – but anything better than leftover residue will suffice.
Scratching your head? Well, it’s because food and liquids will contaminate everything in your recycling bin. So, your clean and dry recyclables will avoid the landfills and head straight to the recycling facility.
2. The Green Bin is Your Friend
The green bin is probably the greatest invention since sliced bread. No longer do you need to put everything in a big black garbage bag that pile up in your garage. The green bin, believe it or not, can take a lot of items that you wouldn’t think could.
Don’t believe it? Here are accepted green bin items in most jurisdictions:
- Coffee grounds and tea bags
- Soiled paper towels
- Sanitary products
- Animal waste
And, we will list two items that will save you a lot of grief in the future!
3. Collect from All Rooms
When you think about it for more than a few moments, you have recycling in more than just your kitchen. You likely have loads of recycling in every inch of your house, apartment, or condominium, from the bathroom to the bedroom to the laundry room.
You can collect either the day before when all the recycling gets picked up or you can sort throughout the week, which would make your life a lot easier.
4. Separate as You Go
Here is the one way you will get into trouble: tossing all your waste into a giant garbage bin in the kitchen or garage and then promising to the environmental gods that you will go through it later and separate the garbage from the recycling – and vice versa.
So, what’s the best solution:
- Buy clear garbage bags.
- Start separating in the house.
- Sort out throughout the week.
- Ensure the bags and bins are easy to access.
Why make recycling any harder than it already is?
5. Recycle Plastic All the Time
There is a simple philosophy when it comes to recycling: When in doubt, recycle plastic all the time.
Plastic does not break down in landfills, but it can be recycled to help produce a wide array of goods. Therefore, it is highly recommended to recycle all plastic waste, and recycling centres will accept a wide variety of plastic:
- Plastic bottles
- Plastic grocery bags
- Polystyrene (egg cartons, food trays, cups, and more; though they do not biodegrade, recycling facilities accept this plastic good).
No matter what, just recycle your plastic.
6. Where Do the Diapers and Kitty Litter Go?
Here is the moment you have been waiting for: the two items that you can dispose in the green bin.
You have likely gotten frustrated of dumping dozens of diapers into big black garbage bags every day of the week. You have also possibly gotten irked by putting your cat’s disgusting litter in these same bags.
So, what’s the solution?
You can toss your diapers and kitty litter into the green bin!
Hip, hip, hooray!
7. Unsure? Trash It
In the end, if you don’t know where to put your trash, then just trash it. Do not try to overthink it and determine where your cigarette butts, pet fur, and candles go. Whatever the case, throw it in the garbage. That’s all you need to do!
Recycle. Reduce. Reuse. Close the loop!
This was ingrained in us since we were children. We do our very best to recycle, but everyone can agree that we need to do a better job of it. Sure, it might be an inconvenience and it would be a lot easier to throw out our garbage in the garbage, but then what would our neighbours think? They might take the broken egg shells from their green bin and toss it at our home!
Do your best, do your research, and do your routine.