Wishful Recycling

Before we get into recycling, I’d first like to remind you about those two things that are even better than recycling! YES. REDUCE AND REUSE. Always do those two things first. Now that that is out of the way…

Obviously, there’s always going to be stuff to recycle. And recycling is much better than having something go to the landfill. However, there is also something called wishful recycling… where you desperately don’t want to put something in the trash so you figure, hey, this item COULD be recyclable (or this is similar to other things I recycle)… let’s just do that. Don’t do this. It can contaminate items that can actually be recycled and lead to a lot of extra work for people sorting this stuff out.

Specifically, today, I want to discuss recycling “special items” — you know, those items that you recycle outside of curbside recycling — usually at entryway bins a big box store (Target, Lowe’s, etc.). You see the signs to recycle lightbulbs, batteries, and plastic bags, get excited, don’t read the details, and dump all your bags, batteries, and bulbs off… Alas, this is wishful recycling. Make sure to do your research and only recycle exactly what the store will take. Let’s break it down:

– Plastic Bags: No. You cannot recycle every single plastic bag, snack bag, etc. that comes into your home: Store bags? Yes. Bread bags? Two thumbs up. Dry cleaning bags? Yep. Frozen veggie bags? Nope. Check the back of the bag for the “Store Drop Off” recycling logo if you are unsure. The Plastic Film Recycling site also has good resources on this.
– Batteries: Most store bins only take rechargeable batteries for recycling. Not the regular alkaline batteries. Regular batteries need to go in the trash or to a facility that takes alkaline batteries for recycling (usually at a cost like $0.25 per battery; in Dallas, Recycle Revolution does this).
– Lightbulbs: Most store bins only take CFL lightbulbs for recycling. Not incandescent or LED bulbs. Again, you’ll have to find a local recycling facility that’ll take these other lightbulbs (often for a fee) or stick it in the trashcan.

And I’m going to throw this last one in there because I see so many people with styrofoam in their recycle bins.
– Styrofoam: Very few curbside recycling programs take styrofoam so please don’t put it in the bins. Instead, look for a facility that specifically takes styrofoam for recycling (or, yep, it goes in the trash). In the Dallas area, the city of Frisco has a free styrofoam drop off location. And Recycle Revolution will take styrofoam for a fee.

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