Landfills have been the primary method of disposing of our garbage for, well, a really long time. Earliest examples of them date back to 1000 B.C.! For the most part, in America they are far from populated areas and primarily out of site but that does not mean that they don’t have an effect on the planet and our environment. Although we have increased our recycling efforts by 100% in the past decade there is still a lot more to be done and the best place to start is in the house. So here are some tips on making good recycling habits and a reminder of what can and cannot be recycled.
Start by checking on the recycling policies in your area. For Chicago, you can find information on obtaining a blue recycling bin (if you do not have one). Check the routes for recycling trucks, or find the closest recycling drop off center on The City of Chicago Recycling Page.
- If you live outside of Chicago, you can use Earth911.com for a curbside pickup search as well as get more info on where to recycle in your area.
Set up a plan of action to recycle more with your family. Make sure everyone knows where your recycling bin is located, what goes in the bin (or what goes in each bin if you have separate bins for paper, plastic, and glass), and when your recycling pick up day is each week.
- If you do not have recycling pick up where you live, you can set up a day each week in which you and your family gather all the recyclable waste from your home and take it to a drop off location.
If you have trouble determining if an item can or cannot be recycled, or just need a reminder to recycle you can place a sign by your trash can and recycling bin that lists off all the items you can recycle.
Speaking of what you can and cannot recycle. Here is a convenient list provided by The City of Chicago.
Items you CAN recycle:
- Glass jars and bottles
- Aluminum cans, foil and pie tins
- Tin or steel cans
- Cereal boxes, paper towel and toilet paper rolls
- Plastic bottles and containers (#1-5 and 7 Only)
- unk mail, magazines, and catalogs
- Telephone books
- Paper bags
- Office paper and file folders
- Newspapers and newspaper inserts
- Beverage cartons (milk, juice, soy, etc)
- Beverage carrier stock (Plastic rings and cardboard carrying case)
- Wrapping paper (No bows or ribbons)
- Paper greeting cards
Items you CANNOT recycle:
- Clothes, metal or plastic clothes hangers
- #6 plastics (polystyrene or styrofoam)
- Diapers or feminine products
- Construction debris (Bricks, wood or cement)
- Paint or spray paint
- Hard reusable plastic bottles
- Loose plastic shopping bags
When it comes to items you cannot recycle there are other options that exist so these items do not end up in a landfill as well. Donation centers like Goodwill and The Salvation Army will collect items such as clothes or lightly used toys and household items. Most cities and towns have centers that will allow you to recycle paint or spray paint properly, and you can typically take plastic shopping bags back to the retailer where they will be able to reuse them.
And when you find yourself with a lot of junk, construction debris, or even large pieces of furniture or kitchen appliances you can call a reputable junk removal company. Eco-friendly junk removal companies are recycling, re-using and donating upwards of 60-80% of material captured.
Let’s keep reducing our dependence on landfills and recycle more!