Most of us living a “green” or Zero Waste lifestyle recycle.  Heck, even many people who wouldn’t consider themselves green at all recycle.  Did you know that there are several errors people frequently make when recycling?  Recycling errors can lead to a “bad” batch of recycling where everything ends up getting trashed!  Let’s make sure to be mindful of these errors.

recycle3#1- Not checking the recycling guide from your recycling company.  ~ This guide is usually one or two pages and details what can be recycling, how/ if it needs separated and how clean the items need to be.

#2- Recycling wet paper (or paper that has been wet).  ~ When paper gets wet the fiber changes and this makes the process very difficult (often impossible) for recycling mills.  (This includes paper that has been painted on.  Use those precious water-color pictures from the kids for gift wrap!)

#3- Recycling dirty containers. ~ Most recycling companies state 90% of the food waste needs to be moved.  If there is too much food waste left it can damage the other materials being recycled and ruin the batch.

#4- Recycling pizza boxes or other oily/ greasy paper items.  ~ Much like the 2 above.  These can’t come clean enough to be recycled.  Some pizza places will allow you to bring your own glass container to put your take-home pizza in (or try baking your own at home!)

#5- Not recycling #5 plastic.  ~ Many companies can now take this plastic.  If your company isn’t able to, check your local Whole Foods which often have special bins for recycling #5 plastic, toothbrushes and Brita water filters!

#6- Throwing out markers and other art supplies. ~ Did you know you can turn small crayon bits into new crayons?  Don’t want to do the work yourself?  Donate them to a local school- many teachers love this project!  Also check out the Crayola Colorcycle program to recycle markers (Crayola brand or not!)

#7- Putting straws in the recycling bin. ~ Unfortunately straws are not recyclable even though they’re plastic.  Look for reusable glass or stainless steel straws instead.

#8- Recycling wrapping paper. ~ Most wrapping paper on the market is NOT recyclable.  The shiny/ sparkly components can’t be recycled.  Look for paper that says recyclable or check out these tips on Zero Waste gift wrapping for future gifts.

#9- Placing wire hangers into the recycling. ~ This is not a type of metal most companies are set up to handle.  Donate them to your local homeless shelter instead. (Learn more here)

#10- Recycling neon/ brightly colored paper. ~ This eye-catching paper is another item that most companies don’t deal with.

Want more recycling tips?  Check out these posts:
Recycling as the LAST Option
Say Goodbye to Plastic Waterbottles
Become an Eco-Defender
Seven Ways to Reduce Your Household Waste



Olivia lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and 5 year old son. She enjoys spending time in the mountains, studying about essential oils, natural remedies and herbs, as well as upcycling/ DIY projects. Olivia’s family is almost completely Zero Waste and strives to live with as little impact on the Earth as possible.  They are currently downsizing and planning to move into a Tiny House in 2016.


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