Reduce Reuse Recycle

Doomed to Landfills: Common Recyclables Getting Trashed


We are all guilty of those moments of sheer laziness when we really can't imagine trying to clean out the inside of the dried up jar cleaned out of the back of the fridge to make it ready for the recycle bin. Everyone knowingly tosses a recyclable item now and then. But what about the things we are tossing in the garbage bin every single day without even thinking about it? A surprising number of common items that are easily recyclable wind up in the trash every day. Here are a few of the things you could be recycling, but might not be, and why.

One of the most common oversights when it comes to recycling is items found in the bathroom. While the majority of kitchen recyclables usually make it to the recycle bin, not so with the bathroom. The main reason for this is we just aren't thinking about it. The bathroom is generally far from the recycle bin, and we just don't think to carry things out of the bathroom with us. What's being tossed in the bathroom trash? Toilet paper rolls, shampoo and other bottles, paper products such as packaging and magazines, and more. To be fair, many people probably didn't realize some of these things can be recycled, but some of them - the toilet paper rolls for example, are quite obvious. It just isn't the first thing on our minds when we are changing the roll! As for those bottles, check the number on the bottom to determine the type of plastic, and compare it to your recycling company or city's list of recyclable plastics. This should tell you whether or not you can put it in the bin. To help remember to recycle bathroom items, add an extra bin where you can throw these items to be carried out to the recycling later.

The bathroom isn't the only land of the lost when it comes to recycling though. The office is also a room that collects a great deal of recyclable items that wind up in the garbage. Why? Again, distraction and oversight. Office trash bins are often full of recyclable paper! Businesses offer paper recycling bins, but they are often far enough from where the worker is sitting that they don't make the trip - or are only placed next to a copy machine or printer. Placing a box or bin to collect scrap paper next to your desk will make it easier to remember - and this goes for the home office as well!

Certainly, the kitchen is the place where the largest number of recyclable products are used. Cans, bottles, jars and cardboard boxes all make the journey from the kitchen to the recycling bin. But even here there are some common items being thrown in the trash without thinking. Single serving yogurt containers, applesauce cups and microwavable soup containers all tend to wind up in the garbage even though they are al recyclable materials. This is generally because they are convenience foods, eaten on the run. When in a hurry, it's more likely we will throw messy items in the garbage than take the time to rinse them for recycling. If you had eaten from a plate or a bowl, you would likely have rinsed the bowl and placed it in the dishwasher, or even washed it and put it away. Rinsing the recyclable plastic cup and throwing it in the recycle bin doesn't take any longer.

Making sure every recyclable item gets placed in the recycle bin instead of the trash requires a bit of mindfulness and a little extra time. But by having recycle bins in the rooms where you produce a lot of trash, and by paying attention to what you are throwing away, you can reduce a lot more of the waste headed for landfills.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle