A Beginner’s Guide To Recycling At Home

by Michal on November 10, 2009

RecyclingSymbolGreenEveryone can play a part in taking care of the earth. One of the easiest ways to do that is to recycle. You can start right from your own home or neighborhood. Recycling takes very little time yet it offers substantial benefits to the environment. According to the EPA, the national recycling rate is just 30%. Increasing materials recycling in the US to 60% could save the equivalent of 315 million barrels of oil per year. Recycling is a great way individuals can make a difference, both locally and globally.

Tips To Get You Started

The help get you started on the right path you should visit your local recycling center. This will allow you to find out what type of materials they accept for recycling. From there you can set your bins up accordingly. To find the recycling center near you call 1 800 CLEANUP. The key to being a successful at recycling is the storage bin set up. Once you have learned which items your local recycling center accepts you can set up your bins accordingly.

A good place to put your bins is the same place you put your garbage. Once your bins are in place, recycling is easy! It is a good idea to use plastic bags or totes to store your recycling material. This is suggested over paper bags that can leak or just not hold up if they get wet. Also, smaller containers are much easier to lift once they get full. To keep your recycling process organized you should label each recycling bin to ensure the materials are separated correctly.

When it comes to the bottles and tins you are recycling, you should clean them before throwing them in the recycling bin. This will prevent flies both at home and at the recycling station. Join the Freecycle™ movement. The idea is simple: you give away for free what you have and don’t need and you receive for free what you need, but don’t have. This ‘free cycle’ of goods keeps lots of useful stuff out of landfill sites and is about thinking globally and recycling locally. Finally, The value of recyclables is driven by market demand. As consumers, we must choose products with recycled content and packaged in recycled materials, so that the materials we recycle are put to use, and markets are sustained.

15 Recyclable Items At Home

  • Newspapers: You should these in their own bin, as this material goes directly back into newsprint recycling. Recycling a four-foot stack of newspapers saves the equivalent of one 40-foot fir tree.
  • Magazines, Flyers or ‘inserts, Phone Books, Envelopes, Paper: These can be saved together in one bin. Staples in paper are acceptable, but remove rubber bands or plastic wrap. Do not include the following in your paper recycling: carbon paper, stickers, cardboard, laminated paper, laminated cardboard.
  • Plastic-Lined Paper Drink Cartons: These are recyclable. Most recycling centers now accept these items but be sure to ask. Discard fast food wrappers made from plastic, dirty or food-stained paper tissues or napkins.
  • Corrugated Cardboard: This is a highly valued recyclable material. Most curbside collectors ask you to bale the cardboard together and tie it with string. You should check to see if there are size and weight limits to how much you are allowed to bale together. The most important thing to remember is to keep it dry. Plastic or waxy coated, and wet or greasy cardboard, such as pizza boxes, cannot be recycled because it clogs sorting machines.
  • Plastic Bottles: They are usually made of #1 PET plastic, a valuable recyclable material. Among many other items, this plastic can be “spun’ into fleece fabric. Tops should be removed before recycling, and put in with your general plastic items. Polycarbonate baby bottles (#7 plastic) are not recyclable. Because it is difficult to clean PET plastic without releasing harmful chemicals, bottles made of PET should not be reused.
  • Plastic goods are assigned different numbers to grade them for recycling: #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) for containers, #4 (LDPE) for bags, #7 for mixed plastics such as polycarbonates that are not recyclable. Almost all recycling centers accept plastics #1 and 2.

  • Plastic Grocery Bags: Most grocery bags are made of high density polyethylene, a Type 2 recyclable plastic. Most grocery stores have bins outside so customers can drop off used plastic bags for recycling.
  • Polystyrene: (#6) (cups, food trays, egg cartons, etc) are not biodegradable. Ask if your recycling center accepts polystyrene for recycling; many now accept this material. Try to reduce your use of this material.
  • Glass: This is recycled according to color clear, green and brown. Recycling centers prefer it when glass is separated this way. Collectively, these types of glass are referred to as “container” glass, and widely accepted for recycling. The paper labels can be left on the glass.
  • Store Lightbulbs, Sheet Glass, Mirrors and Pyrex: Store these separately from bottles, since they have a different composition and melting points, and not all centers accept these materials.
  • Food Cans: They should be rinsed and have lids and labels removed. It helps if they are flattened, although many new cans are difficult to flatten; they should still be recycled.
  • Aluminum Cans: They are very valuable as recyclable items. Many recycling centers request they be not crushed flat. Check locally.
  • Aluminum Foil and Foil Packaging: These are also important to recycle; they are reprocessed into aluminum mechanical components, such as engine parts.
  • Computers, Printers and Hardware: The simplest solution to recycling your old computer is to ask a local school or put a notice on a community bulletin board offering your computer free for the taking. Many people without a computer will still find use with the word processor and basic programs.
  • Paint cans, aerosol cans: These are recyclable, but are considered hazardous waste and need to be kept separate from other metals. It is important to leave labels on these cans, as recyclers need to know the former contents. Try to return the lids along with empty paint cans.
  • Cell Phones and Rechargeable Batteries: Office Depot will collect, free of charge, all old cell phones and used rechargeable batteries for recycling, including Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium Ion (Li-ion), and Small Sealed Lead (Pb) weighing less than 2 lbs/1 kg. These batteries are also commonly found in other portable office electronics products including cordless phones, laptop computers, PDAs, digital cameras, and portable printers.

You can also call 1-800-8-BATTERY to find out which stores in your area have free recycling programs for rechargeable batteries.

Links for Additional Information
National Cristina – in the US, working computers can be donated to this nonprofit organization, which provides computer technology to people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons.
eBay’s Rethink Initiative – helps consumers and businesses learn about the different product disposition alternatives, such as recycling and refurbishing. Options are available for both working computers and obsolete or non-working computers.
Barclay T-Waste – recycling and disposal program will recycle unwanted phones and equipment at no charge. Usable parts will be recycled, unusable materials will be disposed of properly.
Collective Good – how to donate cell phones or other PDAs to the charity of your choice.
Cell For Cash – this company will pay you for the value of a reusable cell phone.

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