No one knows how to recycle
Here's a list of shit we can easily stop doing when it comes to recycling.
No one knows how to recycle.
Myself included. But with a bit more knowledge than the average NYer, I feel compelled to dig into the bins and re-sort the garbage every time I go to my building's recycling room.
I don't do it (unless it's just easily moving a stray can from the cardboard bin to the aluminum bin), but I wonder if I should.
It's pretty common for people to accumulate their cans and bottles in a standard garbage bag and then dump the filled bag in the recycling bin. As recycling is currently set up, I think this is a common-sense way to collect such items.
But this method is bad: The plastic bags get caught in machinery at the recycling facility, slow down processing, and create a huge headache for workers. The bags also likely prevent a lot of recyclables from getting recycled at all.
Fun, horrifying fact: About 90% of the world’s plastic is not recycled.
I think what's clear is that our current system doesn't work. There's not enough education around recycling and it's all too confusing. I’m not sure why there needs to be 7+ types of plastic for food packaging. (Maybe I'll do some digging.) Ultimately, we're going to need big businesses to step up and incite and incentivize behavior change while simultaneously producing products that are better for the environment.
In the meantime, here are some general rules to play by to help you do a little better in your day to day garbage journey.
How To Recycle A Little Bit Better
1. No plastic bags in the recycling bin.
- Even garbage bags. Most grocery stores have a container in which you can drop off plastic bags. I'd say take/use plastic bags sparingly.
2. Clean out (and dry) your cans, jars and bottles before you recycle them (ESPECIALLY ONES THAT CONTAINED TUNA!!!?)
3. Stop pretending that the styrofoam in your cardboard box is invisible. It can't be recycled and needs to be thrown away (and avoided).
4. Lightbulbs can't be recycled in standard recycling bins.
5. You can't throw textiles (clothing, towels, fabric scraps) into the recycling bin.
6. You can and should recycle the cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper.
7. Leaving random broken appliances near a recycling bin won't magically transform them into recyclable materials.
8. "Compostable" items, like coffee cups, can't be put in the recycling. If you don't have access to a municipal compost facility and if you don't have a compost bin, you should put these items in your regular garbage (sad).
Here’s to being less of a garbage person. Mwa!