Are You Recycling Properly?

Doing it wrong can result in even more trash.

Though plenty of social media users made sure to post something planet-friendly on Earth Day, how many of those people actually make the daily effort to keep our Earth clean and sustainable? Perhaps not as many as we'd hope. In fact, some people don't even recycle correctly. It's not uncommon; the rules of recycling are a little less clear than you would think. When you find yourself struggling to figure out which bin to put your water bottle cap in—it's different than where you put the plastic water bottle, FYI—consult this guide before you toss. If even one wrong material gets thrown into the incorrect recycling bin, the entire effort is wasted and has to go to the trash.


What to Know About Recycling

  • Don't recycle wet cardboard; it can clog some of the sorting machines, ruining the entire load. Omit wet cardboard to save the rest of your cardboard recycling effort.
  • Empty and rinse glass containers and jars. However, you don't need to worry if you can't get that lime out of your Corona Light—the recycling machinery zaps away any remaining contaminants.
  • Don't recycle plastic bottle caps; they're not made from the same material as the plastic bottles. If you forget, though, not to worry. They get sorted down the line
  • Don't recycle film plastic such as plastic bags, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, and chip bags.
  • Heat-resistant glass such as Pyrex cannot be recycled.


Recycling Facts

Recycling is not only good for the environment, but it's also a money-saver. Recycling certain items provides us with plenty of renewable energy resources such as the following:

  • The aluminum can is the most valuable recyclable item in the United States—it can be recycled again and again, so quickly that a recycled can returns to the shelf with a new life in 60 days. Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to power a television for three hours.
  • Recycling one plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 30 minutes.
  • Recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a two-person household for an entire year.
  • It takes 95 percent less energy to create an aluminum can from new materials than it does to recycle it.
  • Americans discard enough office paper every single year to build a 12-foot high wall reaching from New York to Seattle.
  • Recycling one ton of cardboard saves a whopping 46 gallons of oil.
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