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Can I Recycle This?

Updated: Sep 10, 2019

Recycling can be hard. What should you recycle? Where can it be recycled? How should it be recycled? We’re here to help make this process a bit more understandable and show you how you can implement a recycling system into your own home!

Let’s start with the basics. What is recyclable? Every neighborhood or town has different rules and options when it comes to recycling, but there are three groups of recycling materials that are fairly universal:

1. Bottles

2. Metal Cans

3. Paper/Cardboard

Breaking this down a little further:

Plastic Bottles = Water/beverage bottles, detergent jugs, almost any bottle you can find in your kitchen

Glass Bottles = Jars, beverage bottles (i.e. wine, beer or liquor)

Metal Cans = Aluminum, tin and bi-metal

Paper/Cardboard = Flattened cereal/snack boxes, magazines, office paper, newspaper, clean cardboard

Now, here’s a list of common items that are NOT recyclable:

1. Plastic Bags (or any plastic you can push your finger through)

⬆️ This one is important because it means you shouldn’t bag your recyclables either!

2. Greasy or contaminated cardboard (Think: coffee cups, pizza boxes, frozen food boxes and paper plates)

3. Food

4. Diapers

5. Styrofoam

6. Mixed Media (Think: envelopes with plastic windows, or toy packaging)

7. Paper Towels/Napkins

8. Wax coated cardboard used for frozen foods


Now that you know what you can and can’t recycle, let’s talk about an equally important part of the process, cleaning and drying the objects! All items placed in the recycling must be rinsed, washed or cleaned before they can be placed in a recycling bin. Any contamination (i.e. food waste, yard waste) can spread and ruin an entire truckload of recycling.

So… Empty ➡️ Clean ➡️ Dry all items before you put them in your recycling bin!

If you’re thinking to yourself “This is great, but I don’t have a recycling bin, or any idea where to take these things…” help is available, just search your town website for information about the recycling programs. It used to be that glass needed to be separated by color and glass needed to be separate from plastic and so forth. Most communities now use a co-mingled system where items need not be separated out. Still, it might be worth checking. Some popular systems are the blue/green bins that can be picked up curbside by your local waste management systems or the larger drop-off bins at township centers, where bins are designated for each type of item.

The blue/green bins are something you can keep in your house, but to find your closest drop-off locations you can go to this link:

We hope this journal helped you understand recycling a little bit better and inspired you to actively be a part of reducing our impact on our planet! Remember though, that it is even better not to create waste that needs to be recycled (or thrown away). Reducing your consumption is even better than recycling!


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