When in doubt, throw it out

It’s great to be optimistic. I know I am, and I would have it no other way. When it comes to recycling however, it’s better to be cautious and sometimes assume the worst. Don’t toss things into the recycling bin optimistically, thinking you’re doing the right thing. There is a good chance you could be making things worse.

We are fortunate to live in California where there is a strong environmental culture and you can usually find a recycling bin or in some places (and increasingly on campus) a compost bin. The fact remains that we all still need to be informed and aware that what we put in that bin isn’t doing more damage than good. Placing materials in recycling optimistically thinking that it will get where it needs to go can lead to contamination, meaning the whole bag, dumpster, truckload and even shipment is no longer able to be recycled. It will instead be landfilled.

Here are 3 tips.

  • No liquid – If you have ice, or part of an orange-mocha-frappuccino still in the cup, you can’t recycle it. Dump out the liquid first or put it in the landfill.
  • Take the time to look at the sign, it’ll help you figure out what goes where.
  • The best option of all, bring your own cup or container so you don’t have to think about this at all.

Stay optimistic, the actions you take matter. National Geographic estimates that only 9 percent of plastic that has been created has been recycled, glass and aluminum are higher. We should all be part of the solution.

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