What Can I Recycle?
Before you start throwing items in a recycling bin, you need to get a list from your town or city hall, so that you know what your community-recycling program includes.
In nearly all cases, recycling programs include:
- Glass – bottles, jars, household glass like vases, kitchen glasses, etc.
- Corrugated cardboard – not thin cardboard like that used to make cereal boxes, but corrugated cardboard (thick with 'corrugate' lines forming the layer in the middle) like those used to ship computers, heaters, vitamins, etc.
- Newspaper and magazines – standard newsprint, glossy mailers and catalogues, postcard type mailers that are made from recycled paper, local fliers and free community newspapers.
- Aluminum and cans – soda cans, cans for vegetables and other items, e.g. tuna, soup, chili, cat food.
- 'Returnable' Plastic Bottles – soda, sports drinks, etc.
The tricky items are the plastics!
Here's how to match the items on your town recycling list to plastic containers, so you know you are putting the right things in the recycling bin.
Plastic recycling is done by the number. Nearly every plastic container has a number on the bottom.
You will recognize this number from other markings by virtue of the fact that the number appears inside a triangle, like this:
Each number identifies a different chemical composition used to make the plastic container.
Some can be recycled, and some cannot.
Most communities accept plastic containers with the number 1 or 2, and some accept containers labeled with a 6, as well.
Find out what your community accepts, then look at all your containers (milk, takeout food, shampoo and conditioner, cleaning products, etc.) and recycle the ones accepted by your town.
Remember to rinse the bottles and containers thoroughly to avoid odors and ensure that the containers do not attract vermin.
There are many other items you can recycle, including common household 'hazardous waste'.
These include paint, cleaners and thinners, motor oil and other lubricants, batteries, pesticides, and other compounds.
If you are unsure whether the item should be disposed of separately, look on the label.
If the label has a warning or caution or indicates that the contents are toxic or poisonous, corrosive or flammable, you should probably contact your town hall and find out how to dispose of these items.
You may be able to take them directly to a recycling center for disposal.
Federal law does not prohibit these items in regular garbage, but the chances are good that your community has a collection program.
If you take these items to a collection center, they will be disposed of properly and will not damage plants, trees, animals and/or the environment.
Look at the list below. If your garbage includes any of these things, the chances are that your curbside pick-up or recycling center will take these items.
Get that list from your town hall and post it where you can see it, so you can easily check items accepted for recycling before you toss them into your trash container.
- Acid Batteries
- Building Materials
- Copy/Printer Paper
- Plastic Bags
- Printer and Copier Toner and Ink Cartridges
- Appliances (mixers, toasters, refrigerators, washers, etc.)
- Electronic equipment (CD players, computers, printers, etc.)
In a moment, we will talk about the various types of recycling collection and where you may find more information.
So, get that list of items for pick-up by your recycling center, and don't forget to ask for a list of locations where you can drop off items for recycling.
You will find it is easy to comply with regulations and you'll feel great about preserving the planet for your children and for yourself.
Composting is another way you can recycle and reduce the garbage that goes into a landfill.
Place a sealed container in your kitchen and dump all potato peelings, eggshells, fruit rinds, coffee grounds and other organic materials into the container.
Empty it often so that it does not smell.
You can also place leaves, twigs and other organic yard debris in your compost pile, as well as horse, goat or cow manure, if you happen to live on a farm!
When you are ready to add your compost to flower beds or to a vegetable garden, you simply place one to three inches of the material on the garden bed, and turn it into the soil with a trowel or a rototiller.
You can also mix the compost in potting soil. In the fall you can cover areas where your lawn or yard has suffered erosion.
Let the compost sit over the winter and then plow the area and reseed your lawn or plant flowerbeds as you wish.