How Hard is it to Recycle? A How to for Newbies

So, you’ve thought about recycling for some time but you are afraid it will be too difficult, so you put it off. Now is the time to stop putting it off and begin your recycling program at home. How can you start? Easy, simply pay attention to what you buy and know what can and cannot be recycled. How can you do this? Read on.

Most communities have a recycling center. This center is where you can take items to be recycled, and where you can find out what can and cannot be recycled. You can check your city’s website to see if recycling information is posted there, as well. If you live in a home, the city might have loaned you a recycling container that you put out on trash day along with the garbage can. There are some items that cannot go in this recycling container, so the city will set up a household hazardous waste collection day (for used motor oil, batteries, etc.), and they can have an electronic recycling day as well (for computers, cell phones, etc.).

The city website or recycling center will let you know how to recycle various items (for example, newspapers may need to be bundled together) before they are brought in or put out. Some plastic and glass bottles offer cash for bringing them in. Normally, the items are separated between glass and plastic (and sometimes by color or recycle symbol as well) and placed in large bins to be weighed. The weight of the plastic or glass determines how much cash is received back. Usually the items are weighed in one area and then the cash is received in another.

When items are placed in the recycle bins outside of a home, apartment or business, the items are just collected and there is no payment received. If you are looking to receive cash back you will need to find a recycling center.

Some items that can be recycled (depending upon the facility) include: newspapers, magazines, glass bottles, plastic containers, steel, aluminum foil (pie tins, sheets of foil, etc.), junk mail, paper egg cartons, telephone books, and more.

Some items that can be recycled during household hazardous waste recycling (depending upon the facility) include: motor oil, antifreeze, used prescriptions, batteries, pool chemicals, cleaners that contain acid or lye, mercury thermometers, and more.

Items that can be recycled during electronic or e-waste recycling include: computers, VCRs, TVs, printers, fax machines, stereos, electronic games, and more.

You will need to check with the facility if you would like to recycle an appliance (stove, refrigerator, etc.) or tires. Most facilities will not take ammunition or some forms of medical waste (ex. bodily fluids). Additionally, if the facility cannot take items you wish to recycle, they may be able to point you to a facility that can.

Now that you know what items can be recycled, what is the best way to begin? Setting up a designated recycling area in your home is a good way to start. You can place bins or bags labeled with the type of recycling you are collecting. This way you will not need to sort it later. There can be a bag/bin for plastic, a bag/bin for glass, and a bag/bin paper. When you or a family member are finished with an item it takes no time to look for the recycle symbol, rinse the item (for plastic and glass), and place in the appropriate container. You can choose one day per month to take the recycling in (if you are looking for cash back or it is not available to be picked up on trash day) or make sure your recycling is out front on trash day.

It would be easy to track how much you are recycling per week/month by setting up a chart on the refrigerator and marking the various items that get recycled. This is a good way to involve your children, and gives them a visual idea of how they are helping the environment.

As you recycle more and more, you will find tips and tricks that work best for your situation. Why not share your tips and tricks on this site? Have you set up a recycling program at home or at work? What do you find that works best to get others involved?

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