According to a recent study, a staggering 92 percent of Americans are unsure about what waste can be recycled, and what can’t be recycled. In order to make recycling easier and more effective, governments and big businesses will have to work together to reduce the amount of trash we produce while devising more responsible ways to dispose of it. In the meantime, there are five simple things we can do to be smarter about what we try to recycle.
First, we must know what to toss in the bin. The best practice is to keep it simple and focus on basic items: You can probably place plastic soda bottles and aluminum cans into your recycling bin, no matter where you live. Glass bottles, paper and cardboard are also fairly safe bets, though many communities require them to be separated from other recyclables. It’s also important to note that plastics with the “recycling symbol” stamped on them ? the triangle with the number in the middle ? aren’t necessarily recyclable. But if the plastic is rigid like you see in water bottles and detergent bottles, they’re most likely recyclable.
Second, realize what you can’t toss in the recycling bin. Most municipalities post their recycling rules online. You can look yours up by going to the website BeRecycled.org, which lets you enter your ZIP code and returns a list of local websites with official information. A general rule of thumb is that common items such as hoses and cords, plastic bags, propane tanks, needles and clothing should definitely not go into your household recycling.
Third, when recycling, do a quick cleaning. Try to empty or scrape as much food out of containers as possible. You can even rinse them out. If they’re too dirty, they can’t be recycled.
Fourth, don’t bag it. Unless you live in a place that requires you to secure your recyclables in plastic bags, keep them loose in the curbside bin.
Fifth, when in doubt, throw it out. If you’re not sure whether something can be recycled, don’t place it in your curbside bin. Yes, it might end up in a landfill. But that’s where it’d go if you tried to recycle it anyway. READ MORE
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