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How Do You Figure Out What You Can Recycle?

In some areas recycling is required. In others, it’s all but impossible due to a lack of facilities. How do you figure out what you can and cannot easily recycle in your area?

The simplest solution is to check with the company that handles garbage in your area. Many are also in charge of recycling too. If you’re lucky they’re already providing you with a bin for recyclables that you don’t even need to sort yourself. The information you need may even be on the company website.

Many are pretty picky. It’s not too uncommon for plastics recycling to be limited to #1 and #2 plastics in bottle form only. Others will take pretty much any kind of plastic.

Then there’s paper recycling. It’s generally not as restrictive as it used to be, but you do still have to be careful. Most won’t want food stained paper, paper towels or paper napkins. But it’s often not a problem to include glossy paper, envelopes with plastic windows or staples in with the paper.

Glass recycling can be a bit interesting. Glass jars are fine. Most companies ask that you not put in broken glass of any kind. They also generally don’t take light bulbs, glass from dishes, mirrors or windows.

If you have a local recycling company that picks up at your house but is a bit pickier than you’d like, it can pay to check out options for places you can bring your recyclables. Sometimes they’ll be within a reasonable driving distance. Just search for your area and include the word “recycling” and see if anything good comes up.

If the recycling companies don’t have websites, you’ll just have to call them to find out if you can bring anything to them and what they will take.

In general, recycling companies prefer that glass and plastic be rinsed. You probably don’t need to scrub things out, but a quick rinse isn’t a bad idea. It also means your indoor recycle bin won’t get dirty so quickly even if you don’t line it with a bag.

But don’t just think of the everyday little things. You can recycle big things and things you don’t often dispose of too. Just be picky about how you go about it.

Some electronics can be recycled. Be picky, as too many companies aren’t all that honest about how they recycle electronics. Sometimes they’re just shipped off to other countries, where the recycling is done in a rather hazardous and polluting manner. Check the e-Stewards website for reputable electronics recycling. You may even be able to mail your electronics in.

For cell phones that still work, consider donating it instead. There are companies that will send old cell phones to people in developing countries or domestic violence victims.

Compact fluorescent bulbs don’t belong in the trash when they burn out. They have mercury and really aren’t good for the landfill. But IKEA, Home Depot and some other stores may take them in. Check with your nearest location.

Don’t forget the reuse option, of course. Anything that can be reasonably reused consider offering up on Freecycle or donating to a local charity. That’s even better than recycling!

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