1Thing: Wishful Recycling

Put the end to wishful recycling

December 14, 2018

As the holiday season approaches, many of us spend countless hours compiling wish lists or crafting a greeting with our best wishes. However, there is one wish that needs to end: “Wishful Recycling.” Wishful recycling is the process of tossing an item that you assume or hope can be recycled in the recycling bins, but sometimes that’s not the case.

We’ve all probably been guilty of wishful recycling – our intentions are good and we feel slightly better for putting something in the recycling rather than directly tossing it out. But, after touring a recycling facility recently, it became clear that these seemingly small choices to pump our ego don’t always bode well for Mother Nature.

Although recycling facilities try their best to sort through the mass volumes of items they get, the most common items that you can immediately stop recycling are:

  • Pizza boxes
  • Used coffee cups
  • Microwavable dinner trays
  • Any kind of Styrofoam or foam packaging
  • Single use plastic bags

Ultimately, the recycling facility is a business and makes money by selling back recycled goods. However, as contaminate levels rise, the value of the products decrease. When the contaminate levels becomes unacceptable to the buyers, the rejected load will end up – you guessed it – in a landfill, creating wasted energy in picking up, sorting, and delivery when those items could have been composted or directly tossed.

Here are some alternatives:

Pizza Boxes: Compost away! Grease, cardboard and food scraps make for great compost. Here’s a helpful article on DIY composting: https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/composting/

Used Coffee Cups: For paper cups, compost. Some have a wax membrane on the inside of the cup, though, so be cautious. Single-use plastic cups should be avoided. Instead, invest in a nice tumbler and enjoy coffee that’s stays hotter longer, all while being great for the environment!

Microwavable Dinner Trays: We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is a great example of slight convenience for us, and big inconvenience to the environment. Cook batches of food and section them out into your fridge and freezer. Voila! Microwavable dinners for half the price and less waste.

Styrofoam: I’m sure you’re not hearing it first here, but avoid Styrofoam when at all possible.

Single-use Plastic Bags: By investing in some reusable containers, you can easily avoid using single-use plastic bags. Shopping bags from stores can also be collected and recycled at certain stores such as Kohl’s and Hy-Vee.

Give the environment a gift this holiday season by familiarizing yourself with best practices for recycling. Rather than hoping your items get recycled, you can feel confident that you’re doing 1Thing to make our home clean.