Thursday, May 5, 2011

You Gotta Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I would like to consider myself a good recycler.  I grew up in a house where one of the weekly chores was recycling.  I can remember many a Saturday spent separating newspaper from glossies & crushing aluminum cans.  You would think after a lifetime of recycling that I would know what I'm doing.  Apparently, that is not the case.

Last month we got a quarterly newsletter from the city.  In the newsletter was a special about what is recyclable in our municipality, and what is not.  While I have been throwing all of my plastic in the recycle bin that is a HUGE mistake.  Our city only recycles 1,2,4, & 7 plastics.  NOT 5.  Do you have any idea how many things come in number 5 plastic?

While this is a problem for me, it is also a HUGE problem that I've been throwing the wrong things in our bin.  All recycling here has to be hand sorted, so that means some poor city employee has to pull out all of the number 5 container that I've unknowingly, but lovingly, been throwing in to the recycling.  Additionally if one of those No. 5's gets past the city worker & gets melted down with the other plastic it can contaminate the WHOLE batch & cause ALL of the plastic to be thrown out.  NOT GOOD.  Not at all what I'm hoping for when I try to recycle. 

I have the desire to save the world when I recycle, but it seems I may have been causing a lot more harm than good by not knowing EVERYTHING that could & could not be recycled in my city.  Evidently recycling has gotten a whole lot more complicated since I was a kid.  For instance, did you know that NO ONE can recycle the lids of pop bottles, water bottles, milk jugs, & the like?  They're a freaky deaky hybrid plastic that has no use.  They have to be thrown away. Also, pizza boxes can't be recycled if they've got grease or any remaining food particles on them, even though they are cardboard.  I did ask our city if I could recycle the tops if there isn't any grease & they said yes. 

I had no idea all of the recycling mistakes I was making, and how much harm I might have been causing.  If you are a recycler call your city, get yourself educated, but most of all KEEP RECYCLING.  The Earth will thank you for it.

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