Not sure if you've caught on, but recycling is big here at GreenBox HQ. It's in our Earth-obsessed, pizza-lovin' bones... and we're thinking it's in yours, too.
So when we found out that the recyclable materials in the U.S. waste stream would generate over $7 billion if they were recycled, well, that got us going. How is this possible? And most importantly, what can be done to fix it?
We could speculate for days (with the help of an extra large pepperoni pie, of course), but we thought this list might be a good place to start. We've put together a roundup of some of the biggest recycling mix-ups, hoping that we'll learn a thing or two along the way. Because if we don't make a change now, who will?
1. Keep it Capped
Back in the day, tossing the cap before recycling the bottle was the way to go. But as of 2012, facilities across the U.S now accept plastic bottles, caps included. And since 25 million of these are recycled per hour, it's nice to know the cap can come too. Simply empty the bottle, crush it (the best part, obviously), replace the top and you're good to go. Sidenote: since not every municipality has hopped on the cap-crazed bandwagon, make sure to check with your recycling center to confirm.
2. Peace Out, Plastic
"Paper or plastic?" You know the drill. Collectively, we discard over 1 trillion plastic bags annually - but it's a myth that these can't be recycled.
In fact, plastic bags are often transformed into playground equipment (weird, but cool), backyard decking, piping, fences and yes.. even new bags.
But recycling curbside may not be the best option, as most local facilities do not have the manufacturing capabilities to recycle such thin, lightweight plastic material. But never fear, Target is here. Most large retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot provide collection bins at the front entrance (you know, conveniently close to the gum ball machine). Your local grocery store might even recycle them, too. Check here for a list of drop-off centers near you.
Still craving canvas? Lucky for you, we're Etsy obsessed - and they've got some of the cutest re-usable grocery bags around. Your eggs (and the Earth!) have never been more excited.
3. Donezo with Details
Labels. They're everywhere. And I swear they're super glued on just to bug me. Don't pretend like you haven't spent 20 solid minutes, sweating, trying to remove every last bit of paper from your recyclable container. But come to find out, it's a totally unnecessary step. The same goes for staples or other metal fasteners stuck in cardboard, as recycling centers use massive magnets to do the work for us. So let's save ourselves the stress (or in my case, a freshly manicured set of nails) and toss 'em in - labels, staples and all.
4. Did You Shred It? Forget It.
In the U.S., we recycle 60% of all paper products (cue us patting ourselves on the back). But when it comes to the shredded stuff, you've got to forget it. Most often, this material is incompatible with recycling center machinery... and just ends up sprawled across the facility floor. Fun times. But glossy paper products, such as old magazines are fully recyclable (but only 20% of them make it to the bin). A good rule to live by? When it comes to paper, if you can rip it, recycle it!
5. A Toss In Toss Up
Think twice before you trash an old CD or 90's video game (especially if it's Mario Kart, in which case we call dibs). Even old appliances, mattresses, furniture and that pile of wire hangers from the dry cleaners could be kept of out landfills based on the rules of your local recycling department.
Earth911 has a trusty tool we live by, where you enter an item and your zip to find out how best to recycle it. And, in case you're wondering, the recycling center in my area accepts old trophies. Excuse me while I collect my slew of "participation" awards. :)