If you read my sustainability blog then I suspect you are already recycling, and if not, why the heck aren't you?! Though I'm not alone in wishing mainstream recycling was more prevalent (we really need to up our game here in CO), it is one of the more widely accepted sustainability best practices. But this post is not going to be about wether or not recycling is worth it, because it IS. Here's a good source and here's another if you still need convincing.
Happy to see you are still with me and now that we've worked our way through the above preamble, so let's get to why we're really here. Just about everything CAN be recycled, but that doesn't mean that YOUR hauler/recycler can actually recycle it. ACTION: Take a moment in the next week to go to your hauler's website and familiarize yourself with what they do and don't accept. It's often not the rules of the hauler, as much as it's the rules of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and nearly all basic household, single-stream recyclables in a particular region are taken to the same facility. If your hauler doesn't have the information on their sight (shame on them!), then find out which MRF is in your area and go to their website.
Here's the cliff's notes version of what to learn about your MRF:
What plastics are accepted? (Example: Mine is #1-7)
Does it accept plastic bags? Most don't because they can easily jam the system. Avoid them by using a reusable cloth bag or return them to most any large grocer.
Glass. Beverage bottle are nearly always accepted, but drinking glasses, windows and ceramics are entirely different materials that can't be recycled. Not all glass is treated equal!
Cups and disposable dining wear with wax or plastic coating are typically NOT accepted. I'm looking at you Starbucks.
Plastic utensils, sadly NOT typically accepted.
Straws. 100% Trash!!
Oh... and PLEASE don't place your recycle-able items in a plastic bag... it kind of defeats the point.
So here's where you can go one step further. Just because some of the items above cannot be recycled in your curbside, single-stream bin, it doesn't mean you can't recycle them. Most cities/regions have "hard to recycle" facilities that take items like styrofoam, wrapping paper, batteries, electronics, lightbulbs, etc. Our neighborhood facility just started accepting compost, which absolutely just tickles me pink! A simple google search can lead you to one of these specialty facilities. An additional fee comes along with dropping these items, though the cost is typically nominal and is inherently tied by responsibility to the item when it was purchased.
If you are in the Denver area, your recycle-able items most likely go to Waste Management or Alpine Waste and Recycling. Two area hard to recycle places are SustainAbility Recycling and Eco-Cycle. If you have any additional tips or knowledge, I always love to learn along side my fellow sustainability nerds... reach out!