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What NOT to recycle at home

January 19, 2022

Waste pollution is one of the major problems that deserve a rallying call around the world. In recent times, more and more people are realising the impact household items have on the planet and are willingly participating in recycling initiatives. We all have one common goal: to reduce overconsumption of waste material and enhance the environment we all live in.

Header photo via Peter Plashkin (unsplash)

We all want to play a part in helping the planet, and one of the easiest way is to recycle at home, because that would mean less garbage winds up in our landfills and incineration plants. Or so we thought! We might not realise it but we might be adding to this problem by treating our recycling bin as a regular bin.

“It makes a big difference to recycle. It makes a big difference to use recycled products. It makes a big difference to reuse things, to not use the paper cup - and each time you do, that's a victory.“

- Emily Deschanel

To toss or to recycle? It’s not always clear. One of the things I struggle with when recycling is knowing what can and can’t be recycled, there is always this misinterpretation of what can be processed in the recycling plant or what would just end up in landfill. I’ve compiled a list of common items based on google research on what you really shouldn’t recycle:

  1. Most bottle lids - Bottle lids are made from a different type of plastic than the bottle itself, so they need to be recycled separately to avoid contamination.
  2. Greasy and oily food/pizza boxes - Food and grease can damage the recycling equipment and contaminate other recyclables.
  3. Ceramic - Ceramic items have a higher melting point than conventional glass, making them unsuitable for recycling with glass.
  4. Non-recyclable plastic cutleries and straws - These items are typically made from low-grade plastics that are not accepted in most recycling programs.
  5. Plastic bags/wraps - These items are considered soft plastics and can clog and damage recycling equipment.
  6. Mirrors or broken glass - These items are not suitable for recycling because they are often made from different types of glass or contain contaminants like adhesives or coatings.
  7. Book covers - Book covers often contain non-paper components like plastics or metal that cannot be recycled.
  8. Bubble wrap - Bubble wrap is considered soft plastic and should be recycled at designated plastic bag recycling areas to avoid clogging equipment.
  9. Clothes hangers - These items are not accepted in most curbside recycling programs but can often be recycled at specific drop-off locations.
  10. Expired and unused medicines - These items should not be thrown away in the trash or flushed down the toilet as they can contaminate water sources. They can be safely disposed of at designated medication disposal locations.
  11. Wet paper - Wet paper can damage recycling equipment and contaminate other recyclables.
  12. Receipts - Printed on thermal paper, receipts contain BPA and do not decompose, making them unsuitable for recycling.
  13. Stickers - Stickers cannot be recycled due to the adhesive used in their production.
  14. Packing peanuts - These items are typically made from polystyrene foam, which is not accepted in most curbside recycling programs.
  15. Diapers - These items are not suitable for recycling and should be disposed of in the trash.
  16. Old clothing - Old clothing can be donated or repurposed, but should not be thrown away in the trash.
  17. Electronics - Electronics contain hazardous materials like lead and mercury, making it important to recycle them properly to prevent environmental damage.
Photo via Patrick Tomasso (unsplash)

What can you do instead? *Tips

Get crafty

- Turn your bottle lids into into crafts

There is always the option of creating cute animal cut outs out of bottle tops, and you just know that Pinterest will provide you with some inspiration! Some very cool stuff can be found here.

- Donate your books instead of tossing them

Donate them to your local charity shop. If you're unsure where to donate books, you can search for Oxfam charity shops that accept books near you in the UK.

"If we reduce our overconsumption both our budget and our planet earth will benefit."
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