Recycling 101 - Get to Know the Facts

Have you ever wondered what items can really be recycled and what happens to those items once they make it to the recycling facility?  There are many benefits to recycling mainly it reduces; energy use, resource use (wood, metal, etc), water use, pollutants and emissions.  Recycling also reduces waste stream to landfills.  Below you will find what products are recyclable, even a breakdown of each number plastic. When thinking about recycling remember these four R's:

Reduce:  Decrease what you buy and throw away.
Recycle:  When done with a product, turn it into something else
Reuse:  Use items more than once.
Reclaim:  Buy products made from recycled content. (Buy products with the highest percentage post-cosumer waste possible. Post consumer waste are materials that have been previously out in the market and are being recycled.  Pre consumer waste are materials used internally by a company.

What can be recycled?

Metals - steel and aluminum
Glass - any color
Paper - cardboard, magazines, junk mail, paper, newspaper
Plastics -
#1 & #2 - pop bottles, detergent bottles, etc.
#3 - PVC, used in piping.  Rarely recycled curbside (call your local facility)
#4 - used in plastic bags and flexible containers.  Bags should be returned to store collection areas.
#5 - Often not accepted at curbside collections (call your local facility or check list below for more options)
#6 - Polystyrene (styrofoam)  is not cost effective to recycle. Some pilot programs exist (call around or simply pass on buying this).
#7 -  Other plastics, most not currently recyclable. 

What to do with non-recyclable items
Many of your products that are not recyclable through curbside collections are still recyclable; it just takes a little more work.  There are plenty of options for all those non-recyclables.

earth911 - takes many items
Terracycle - collections based on demand (candy wrappers, chip bags, pens, etc.)
Whole Foods - Britta water filters and #5 plastic containers
Nike - Reuse a Shoe Program - turns used athletic shoes into new playground fields and running tracks
Call your local solid waste agency to discard of household waste and electronics.

Don't forget you can also try to donate your items through companies like Good Will, Salvation Army and many local churches.  Try to sell your items to stores like Plato's Closest and other resale stores.

Try to buy second hand through thrift stores such as Love Thrift.

If you all do our part we can help make a difference... Do you recycle?