I already recycle a lot of things but leading into this project I was wondering what I might be missing out on or doing wrong.
My first stop was my county Department of Environmental Services website. Thankfully our county is pretty permissive about what they will take in curbside recycling. I learned that in addition to the normal stuff, we can recycle plastic and metal hangers, old plastic coolers, empty aerosol cans, and plastic lawn chairs. Even better, they specifically say you DON’T have to clean out peanut butter jars before recycling them. That’s some life-changing information right there.
On the down side, I learned that they can’t recycle the plastic clamshell containers from fruit and other packaging, which I have been mistakenly putting in the recycling. Those are off my list for this challenge anyway, but good to know.
I also confirmed that the county’s municipal composting service is still not available in my neighborhood (it is frustratingly close – across the street). While my backyard compost pile is great for uncooked food scraps, it can’t handle cooked foods and oils like a municipal composter can. So far, I don’t have a great alternative solution.
Here are some other things I was curious about:
- Toothpaste tubes – They can’t go in my commingled recycling but some manufacturers will take them back for recycling, or you can box them up and send to Terracycle.
- Almond milk/broth cartons with plastic spouts – My county website isn’t 100% clear but most other sites say these can go in the regular recycling bin, without removing the plastic spouts
- Plastic bottle caps – Every jurisdiction is different, but mine says put them in the recycling and you can even leave the cap on.
- Food storage bags – These can’t go in the county bin (bags mess up the equipment) but you can recycle them in the same places you drop plastic grocery bags. I haven’t always been good at pulling these out, but that’s an easy change.
- Mesh bags from onions and other produce – I found lots of suggestions for reusing these but not for recycling.
Today’s trash tally: I started writing down the trash (recyclable and non-recyclable) that I produce each day so I can see how this month changes my behavior. Today was an inauspicious start – a plastic mesh onion bag, two cans (recyclable), and a recyclable cardboard takeout container – but I suppose that is still far less than 4 pounds.