How does recycling factor into sustainability?
Sustainability is a lot like health, all of your everyday little choices add up and contribute to the overall flow. The great thing about recycling is that it has a robust infrastructure in the US which makes it easy to utilize. But recycling isn’t the end-all-be-all of sustainability. It is just one factor of sustainability that works in tandem with reducing, reusing, and a whole slew of other practices. So although recycling isn’t going to solve all problems, it certainly helps contribute to flowing in the right direction.
Being less wishful and more willful with your recycling habits can have a positive impact. Here are some recycling facts to inspire you to be more willful:
- When U.S. recycling levels reach 75% it will be the environmental and CO2 equivalent of removing 55 million cars from U.S. roads each year. Source.
- Over 87% of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs. Source.
- 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it. Source.
What to recycle curbside
The specifics of what can be recycled in your curbside bin is going to vary based on your location but we put together a list of the most commonly accepted recyclables.
- Aluminum cans
- Junk mail
- Phone books
Keep these items out of your recycling bins
- Shredded paper
- Shower curtains
- Water hoses
- Coffee pods
One of the most important factors of becoming more willful with your recycling habits is to ensure recyclable items are being recycled properly. The harsh reality is that recyclables can be sent to the landfill if they’re not prepared correctly – or if the wrong thing made it into the recycling bin.
Tips for prepping recyclables properly:
- Check with your waste management provider to see if you should be bagging your recyclables or not.
- Flatten cardboard boxes.
- If accepted in your curbside pickup, avoid breaking any glass recyclables.
- Remove plastic tops from cartons or bottles.
- Rinse out your recyclables and dry them off. They don’t need to be spotless or bone dry but this can help avoid contaminating other recyclables, like paper!
Learn what to recycle in your area
The best way to learn about recycling in your area is to Google: your city, state + “waste management” or to contact your waste collection company directly. Oftentimes they have a print out of accepted recyclables that you can hang on your fridge or near your bins. We’ve also created a cute one if you like to keep it aesthetic, like we do. Just right click and save!