Earth Day

Recycling Do's and Don'ts for Kids and Parents on Earth Day

Tips on making sure what you put in the recycle bin can actually be repurposed

NBC Universal, Inc.

As we spend more time at home and generate more trash, now could be the perfect time to teach kids the fundamentals of recycling.

But are adults even throwing away the right things? Republic Services – a trash removal company – says one in three items that end up in the recycling bin should never have been there to begin with.

The Community Relations Manager for Republic Services, Jeremy Walters, says if there’s one thing you take away from this article, don’t dump your recyclables in a tied up plastic bag.

“Bagging recyclables is one of the biggest no’s that we can talk about,” Walters said.

Walters also wants to remind us that we need to clean our items before recycling them. Most time items go straight to a sorting machine. There is not someone there physically cleaning items. If they’re not clean they will likely not get recycled.

“One of the big things is what we call empty, clean, dry. It’s very important to rinse out our recyclables,” Walters said.

His family collects recyclables in a wicker basket. That way they have to clean items before dumping to avoid leaks.

As for those online purchases, the packaging is flexible plastic, typically what the item comes in is also flexible plastic. That cannot be recycled. Basically the box is the only thing you can recycle.

“Think about when you vacuum at home and your hair can wrap around the roller of the vacuum. If you leave it, ultimately the vacuum becomes inefficient or sometimes jams altogether. So the same principle applies to trash bags or padding material thrown inside your recycling bin,” Walters said.

Recycling Simplified is a great education tool by Republic Services. Kids of all ages can find downloadable activities and educational materials. There’s crossword puzzles, virtual field trips and more to teach us to go green in the right way. 

It's also good to check with your local authority to see rules about the specific recycling guidelines in your area.

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