Everyone recognizes those big blue bins that are at curbside once a week for recycling pick up. We all feel that we are helping in the effort to lessen garbage on our planet and recycle! There are some of us who are “recycle part-timers” and then those who are “recycle disciples”. I have been at a friends’ home where I was “caught” placing empty cans of Coke in the trash. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING”? I was stopped in my tracks and begged forgiveness! While I am just as environmentally conscientious as the next person, I often wonder how much of what we put into the big blue recycling bins actually does get reused.

I did some research and here is what I found:

Do not put your recyclables in a plastic bag. Yes, it’s less messy to put all those leaky bottles and cans in a bag and take them to the curb later. But the first thing recyclers have to do is to break open every paper or plastic bag. And with conveyor belts moving at speeds of 35 to 60 feet per second, sorters don’t have time to open every  bag and make sure what’s inside won’t damage machinery later on. More often than you’d probably like to know, a full bag of recyclables can get diverted to the trash pile.

Don’t think that everything that is plastic, rubber and paper is recyclable! Rubber hoses, sneakers, Christmas lights and PIZZA boxes are NOT recyclable in most US cities!

You do not have to sterilize your recyclables. Its ok to rinse them out but it really doesn’t matter if they have some amount of liquid or whatever in them. Also, when recycling cardboard boxes, take the peanut or plastic packaging material out. If you do not, chances are that the box will end up in the trash.

Last item of interest that I found out about is COMPOSTING. Environmentalists say the next frontier in U.S. recycling is to go the way of many cities in California and Seattle have done. Institute citywide composting. By mandating that residents separate food scraps and grass clippings, San Francisco now claims to be recycling about 80 percent of all waste. If done on a large scale, composting might have a more direct impact on global warming, environmentalists say, than keeping any plastic bottle or can out of the garbage. By some estimates, organic material rotting in landfills is now the country’s third biggest source of methane gas.

So, this may help some or it may not, but it’s some good info for those of us who try to keep our world clean and beautiful!