What to Recycle and Why You Should Do It
Meaghan Weeden | December 15, 2022 | 4 min read
Recycling Tips and Recycling Guide For The Conscious Consumer
We all want to do whatever we can to save our planet, but it can be confusing to figure out how — and sometimes it can even feel like our daily actions are too small to make a difference. The good news is that there are plenty of simple actions we can take as individuals to help our planet — and recycling is one of them. But it’s important to do it right so that your efforts don’t go to waste (no pun intended).
Waste guidelines at recycle facilities can be confusing, making it difficult to know if we’re properly disposing of things. And unfortunately, in many ways, our global recycling systems fall short of the massive waste problem we face as consumers today. For that reason, a powerful first step to take in your efforts to recycle properly, is to reduce the amount of waste you produce in the first place. To help, we’re sharing 7 easy ways to reduce waste, and our recycling guide to help you recycle confidently!
Here are 7 Simple Tips to Help you Produce Less Waste
1. Check Before You Buy
Most recycling programs accept plastics labeled #1-7, but did you know that more often that not, they will only recycle plastics #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE). So the next time you reach for that “eco-friendly” bottle of shampoo, make sure it's made of recycleable materials.
2. Avoid Plastics #3-7
Most of the yogurt cups, plastic cutlery, cosmetic packaging, shipping materials, coffee pods, and to-go containers that you’ve been dutifully placing in your recycling bin end up getting incinerated or sent to the landfill. Until this recycling deficit is addressed, the best option is to phase out your consumption of these plastics.
3. Consume Consciously
If you’re in a bind and have to purchase prepackaged goods, favor those that are contained in aluminum and glass. Why? Both are widely accepted and recycled by waste programs. Paper packaging, unfortunately, is often coated in a thin layer of plastic (think disposable coffee cups), so its less recyclable than you might think!
4. Ditch The Plastic Bags
Purchase or make your own lightweight cloth or net bags. In a bind, paper bags are still a better option than plastic ones, but reusables are always best.
Plastic is ubiquitous, and no matter how conscious we are, it will creep into all of our lives at some point. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up too much. Just try to reuse it for as long as you can.
6. Keep Recycling!
Plastic #1, which is used to produce soda and water bottles, is everywhere. Recycling just 1 lb of it saves an estimated 22.9 kWh of energy and 47.4 lbs of CO2 emissions when compared to producing the same amount with raw materials.
7. Separate, separate, separate
Many goods are only as recyclable as what they’re in the bin with. Broken glass or spilled sauces? To the landfill they go. And that oily, cheese-encrusted pizza box? Unusable unless you cut the contaminated portion off.
We hope these tips will inspire you reduce what waste you can, and recycle what you can't. And if reflecting on a lifetime of plastic consumption has gotten you down, don’t beat yourself up too much! Start where you are, and do better today.