I'm sure that was the general sentiment after reading my last post: Recycling Conundrums: The Dark Part. Reading and writing it, I was feeling it in the pit of my stomach (so I know you were too). But, it was all news that needed to be known. Cower away from it might have been what we wanted to do, but knowledge is power. We needed to become experts on what's going on in the recycling world so that we can make sense of it, and shape the system to serve us.
Here's a little laundry list of pro-active steps we all should take. The first 4 come from 538.com's 1/18/2019 post "How to Make Sure Your Recycling Gets Recycled." Then I added some more to the list. Knowledge is indeed power!
1. Learn Your Local Rules.
Not all programs are created equally. Know what you need to know for where you live.
"I had always figured that if I didn’t know whether a thing was recyclable, I was better off putting it in recycling than in the trash. But the phrase you’ll hear from recycling experts is now 'when in doubt, throw it out.' "
2. Clean Off The Food.
Waste of water? Maybe... but it might be worth the collateral loss of water to save the waste from the landfill. Cans, jugs, bottles, tubs. All of it. Crystal clear isn't necessary, but a rinse for sure. The last thing you want to do is get food scraps from your containers onto the paper products, contaminating those, making them harder--if not impossible--to recycle.
3. Break Down Your Boxes.
All those Amazon boxes (and other home deliveries) have upped cardboard's usage/creation rate 8% over the past 5 years, however recycled cardboard rates haven't kept up. Likewise, that includes taking off the tape, throwing out portions with labels, and even box-cutting them down to regular paper size. That feels like a lot of work that a lot of people won't do, but it'll get things more recycled, less-landfilled, than not.
4. Consume Less.
The no-brainer here. Less consumption means less is wasted. However, in our over-packaged world of sometimes plastic-wrapped apples, that does become harder and harder to do. The word "Reduce" purposely comes first in the "Reduce-Reuse-Recycle" trilogy. Actually, maybe "Refuse" should be the first word in a four-word mantra!
5. Check out Waste Management's Recycle Often Recycle Right Myth Page.
The Recycle Often Recycle Right Myths Page is a clickable list of major things to consider when it comes to recycling. Perfect for the hands-on and visual learners out there! Additionally, there are videos, printable, school curriculums, and other resources on their website that will help you navigate "what goes where."
6. Look into WasteDive.
It may be a little more effort, and a little more work, but if the goal is a cleaner, more protected planet, it seems like a small price to pay forward!
Images from https://recycleoftenrecycleright.com/myths/ and https://recycleoftenrecycleright.com/ and https://earth911.com/recycling-center-search-guides/