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Recycling: Are You Doing it Correctly

Finger pushing Recycle button

If you look at homes all across the country you will probably find that most people recycle in one form or another. A 2013 study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that of the 254 million tons of trash Americans generate each year, 84 million tons of that material is recycled or composted. Most people agree that recycling is an easy, small thing you can do to help reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills, but did you know that your kitchen isn't the only place where waste can be recycled? Soda cans and water bottles aren't the only materials that shouldn't be thrown in the trash. You use products all over your house that are made of recyclable materials. Reading the label to learn how to dispose of a product is an important first step in being a responsible consumer. There are many products that don't need to end up in landfills. Remaining environmentally conscious doesn't have to be hard, many places are making it worth your while. Reusable bags are readily available these days so you can stop using plastic bags when you go shopping. In many states a 5 or 10 cent discount is offered for people who use reusable bags. By changing a few of your habits you can have an immensely positive impact on our world and your bank account.

Take a look at the list below to see just how many places in your home you can look to make sure you're disposing of your waste responsibly:

Bathroom: Look in your shower! Shampoo and conditioner bottles, body wash, and shaving cream cans can all be recycled. Look inside your cabinets for: hair spray, hair dye, nail polish, tooth brushes, and even toothpaste tubes.

Laundry room: Clothes detergent, fabric softener bottles, plastic shopping bags (many grocery stores have return programs for these as they can't be thrown into your recycling bin). Search your area here to find where you can take plastic bags.

Garage: Aerosol cans (check with your city to see their policy on disposal) sporting goods, batteries, plastic furniture, brick, tiles, and much more can be reused and recycled.

Living room: Tissue boxes, air fresheners, cleaning products, dusters and even electronics can be given to certain waste facilities.

Kitchen: Look inside your cabinets and drawers for: cardboard boxes, air fresheners, dish soap, dish washing liquid, disinfectant wipes, cleaning products and sprays.

There are so many places to look for recycling opportunities!

For all of these listed above, be sure to check whether a certain product will be accepted where you live. This recycling database is a great way to find your municipality and look at their recycling regulations. Aerosol cans, for example, can be recycled in most places but you should make sure that the can is empty and not punctured. If a certain product won't be picked up, there is a possibility it can be taken to a drop-off center instead.

It can be challenging to determine whether or not something is recyclable. If you've ever purchased a product that contains plastic, metal, glass, or cardboard (it's hard to imagine a product that doesn't) you have probably seen one of these recycling symbols below in one form or another. These symbols, or Resin Identification Codes (RICs) can add to all the recycling confusion.

There are many common misconceptions among consumers as to what these numbers mean. Some think they are a plastic's grade of popularity, others believe this is the number of times the material has been recycled, and most people just don't know what to make of them. The truth is that RICs aren't really meant for consumer reference; these codes assist in the identification of resin types for the recycling and plastics industries. The Association of Plastic Recyclers provides helpful, in-depth information about each number and how that material is used. Again, these are notrecycling codes, so if one of these is on a product it doesn't automatically mean that product is recyclable. It's best to look at the product's instructions and or check with your municipality.

Labels on products offer a wide range of disposal instructions so it is imperative that you read the product label. The label will either show a recycling graphic or express in words the proper disposal information like the two labels on the left from aerosol cans. The top label specifies that the material is steel and it is recyclable only when all of the product is emptied from the container. The one the bottom specifies that the material is steel and says that this product is recyclable where aerosol cans are accepted.  

Recycling can be very easy when you read the label. By doing this simple act you can have a profound effect on our environment, and keep the clutter out of your home!

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