The Truth About Recycling

As college students, most of us are conscious and aware that recycling is good and that we should do our part for the environment. While this is true, most people do not realize there are better ways of recycling. This is not something that is taught and SO many of us have been doing it wrong the whole time. You may be wondering why the way in which you recycle matters, isn’t all recycling beneficial?

The truth is, if we don’t do our part to recycle properly, it can damage equipment at recycling centers, interfering with the processing of other recyclables. Incorrect recycling can also cause the items you thought were being recycled to end up in places like waterways and other natural environments. This is possible because of the extra transportation certain items have to undergo when the process is done incorrectly because of recycling centers inability to properly handle products that are unfit to be recycled.

If you are concerned about the waste you produce, continue reading for how to be a more conscious recycler:

  1. 1. Messes just won’t do…

    Most recycling centers won’t take products that have any type of residue on them. This means avoid tossing greasy pizza boxes in the recycling. If the container is able to be rinsed, rinse those containers out! This goes for soup cans, soda bottles, and anything else. It’s that easy.

  2. 2. The Truth About Mixed Materials…

    Mixed what? Mixed materials. That means two things that could be recycled separately, but once they are put together they become unusable in future products. For example, a disposable coffee cup. If you’re using a  paper or cardboard cup that doesn’t disintegrate with liquid in it, it must be lined with something. Typically that coating is wax or plastic which makes something much harder to make into something new. The best way to avoid this is to bring your reusable coffee cups in with you to Peet’s or any other coffee shop you go to. Select locations will even give you a discount for bringing your own mug!

    Another easy fix to avoid mixing materials is removing labels, like on soda or water bottles,  whenever you can!

  3. 3. Think Twice About Some Plastics…

    Thin plastics and cellophane are not usually a conventional recyclable. The thin plastic covering your microwave dinner is not recyclable, but the container is. Separate them, trash the cover, rinse out the container and recycle it! The same goes for thin shopping bags. The best solution to non-recyclable grocery bags is to bring your own reusable bags. If you do end up with some traditional plastic grocery bags, reuse them or save them. A lot of stores will even collect bags to recycle!

  4. 4. What About Clothing?

    Fast fashion is rough on the environment in many ways! It can also contribute to unfair labor uses. Shopping second hand when you can is the best form of textile recycling. You can buy used clothes and also donate/sell things that you no longer wear. It’s easier now than ever to find specific items with all the online platforms available, like Depop or Poshmark. Some stores like H&M even have recycling programs for your clothing that is just a little too worn to be donated.

  5. 5. The Best Form of Recycling is Avoiding Products in The First Place.

    There has been a recent push back against single-use plastics, and it’s for a good reason! Most plastics can only be recycled so many times and they never actually go away! Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to hop on the reusable train. Ditch the plastic water bottles for a reusable one and don’t stop there! A quick Pinterest search will reveal a world of reusable goods that even a college student can afford.