Five Tips to Close the Recycling Loop
Despite what Kermit the Frog says, it’s actually easy to be green! Check out these five tips to up your recycling game and help the environment.
1. First, reduce waste with reusables. It’s much easier to manage waste that never enters the waste stream, so consider switching to reusable items whenever you can. Try mason jars for drinks and soup. Reusable straws are often available at coffee and smoothie shops. Don’t forget to invest in a straw brush to scrub out the insides.
2. Buy products with less packaging. CalRecycle estimates about 25 percent of our waste stream is packaging. If you can, buy items in bulk or opt for brands that use easier-to-recycle packaging materials (like cardboard strawberry containers instead of plastic clamshells). Also consider buying multiple items in one order when shopping online to reduce cardboard shipping box and padded envelope waste.
3. Recycle yard and food waste. Food waste accounts for 18 percent of our waste stream and can be recycled into beneficial products like compost and renewable natural gas. If you don’t have residential curbside organics collection service, you can look for a local community garden compost program. Many community gardens accept yard and food waste for their compost piles.
4. Understand what goes in your blue and green bins and avoid contaminants in each bin. There is no statewide, universal recycling program in California, so local guidelines will vary. If you add food waste to your green bin and your community doesn’t have a composting facility that accepts food waste, you may have inadvertently contaminated your yard waste bin. Check out your local jurisdiction website or that of your waste and recycling hauler to learn more about what to put in each bin. In general, you want to add clean, dry items to the blue bin. If you add a spaghetti sauce jar with no lid and sauce residue inside the container, the sauce can leak out and contaminate other items like paper, making them more difficult to recycle and possibly bound for the landfill.
5. Buy recycled-content products. The recycling economy depends on people buying products made with recycled content, which increases the demand for materials collected for recycling. When you’re out and about shopping, look for products made with recycled material.