Recycling should be your second to last option. The best option is not using something that will need to be trashed. If that’s not possible, the next best option is to choose reusable alternatives.
But, if you have something to get rid of, by all means recycle it! The worst option is using something and then throwing it out.
With that said, here are a few tips to consider as you make your way to the recycling bin:
Don’t Wash (Rinse If You Must)
A particularly common suggestion is that you wash food containers before putting them in the recycling bin. Just make sure you don’t over-do it (and in some cases, don’t wash at all).
Remember, water, especially hot water uses energy and resources, too.
The only reason to rinse items is because between the time you put an item in the recycle bin and when it gets picked up, any food scraps would attract bugs … or larger beasts with beady eyes and long tails. Food scraps have no impact on the actual recycle-ability. The recycling process involves a great deal of water and detergents as it is. So, don’t go crazy washing with hot water or much soap (if any) – a quick rinse should do, and only if something is smelly.
Beware of Take-Out
Restaurants tend to over-do the packaging. We sometimes get Chinese food delivered. Each dish comes in its own box; either paper with a metal handle, or plastic. Then there are wooden chopsticks, little packets of soy sauce , plastic cups of orange sauce, mustard and plastic wrapped fortune cookies … all in a plastic bag.
Next time you order out, ask them not to send any extras with your food.
Styrofoam Is Evil
Polystyrene, a.k.a Styrofoam is effectively un-recyclable. It’s costly, lives forever, and takes up a large volume in landfills. Bad.
Try to avoid using it at all costs.
Junk Mail Can Be Stopped
Where To Recycle Electronics, Light bulbs, Batteries
Check out this great recycling site, Earth911. They have resources to help you find out how to deal with almost anything.
Think About The Full Energy Life Cycle
Some things recycle well, like glass and aluminum. Plastic and paper require more energy to get a usable product back. But there’s more than that — the cost to get the virgin materials, to create the product, to transport, then to cart away, then to live in a huge landfill (in some cases effectively forever) — all of these have direct and indirect costs. In some cases, trash is incinerated — which is even worse from an energy perspective.