As we become more aware of how big a trash problem we have in this country, the more importance we put on responsible waste management services and minimizing waste at home and work. Recycling is a huge piece of the puzzle, and it turns out that the puzzle is more difficult than we thought. Recycling, it seems, can be a bit tricky to navigate. So, let’s break down recycling to make sure you’re not making one of these recycling mistakes.
Top three recycling mistakes
Perhaps the biggest mistake that people make is thinking that if a product contains a recyclable material, the whole thing is recyclable. The recycling bins are all neatly color coordinated and ask for paper, plastic, metals, and organic materials. However, as with anything else in life, there is fine print. There are limits and conditions to each material that can be recycled. And, there are also big areas of recycling that many of us miss.
Cables and string lights
One of the biggest recycling conundrums is where to recycle cords, cables, and broken, knotted up string lights. These items tend to fill up boxes and drawers in any home, and at one point, it’s time to clean out. But, with the coating being plastic, and the interior being metal (wires) which bin do you put cords and cables? The answer is, they should not go in the recycling bins, and they should not go in the trash. Cables and string lights contain hazardous materials that are dangerous and should not end up in a landfill. Similarly, they are hazardous to the recycling machinery and should not be recycled. Rather, these items should be treated as e-waste and should be disposed of properly.
Clothing feels like it’s an organic material and should be recycled. However, there is no bin marked “textiles.” Clothing shouldn’t be recycled in the recycling bins; it should be reused. Reusing is a big part of recycling and waste management. Don’t throw out clothes, donate them to a second-hand shop, or give them to friends and family.
Single-use plastic products are one of our biggest trash problems. Not only should we minimize how many single-use plastic items we buy, but we should be sure to recycle all the plastic we can. However, not all plastic can be recycled like soft plastics, toothpaste, zip lock bags, plastic bags, etc. A good way to tell if the plastic is recyclable is if it can hold its shape. Or, look for the recycling triangle on the bottom of products. If it contains the recycling number 1,2, or 5, it is recyclable.
Speaking of plastic bottles, there is one recycling area that many people miss. We tend to focus our recycling on the kitchen. But, our bathrooms are typically filled with plastic bottles that should be recycled. Be sure to recycle lotion bottles, shampoo, and conditioners, as well as body washes and other products.
Sunrise Sanitation provides residential, commercial, and job-site trash and recycling services in West Virginia and Maryland.