This post was sponsored by OCRRA as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
We all want to protect the environment and do our part to “Save the World a Little Each Day”. But sometimes recycling and protecting the environment is more complicated than we realize. There is more to recycling right than just putting your papers, cardboard boxes, cans and plastic bottles into a blue bin.
Putting recyclables into your blue bin for curbside pickup is a great start – but there is a lot more you and your family can do. Here in Onondaga County, the resources on the OCRRA website can help you find ways to recycle all kinds of other material, like stretchy film plastics and textiles (which can’t go in the blue bin).
Recycling these items takes a little more effort, but it will pay off because it means less trash. Reducing waste helps everyone! We need to teach our children the importance of recycling and make sure we keep making choices that will protect their future and our environment.
Keep the Curbside Recycling Stream Clean
I posted a few weeks ago about the problem of wish cycling – which is when things that shouldn’t be recycled are tossed in recycling bins. Things like plastic bags, bubble wrap and dry cleaning bags are not recyclable through curbside pickup. Putting these items into your recycle bin will slow down the recycling process by jamming machinery and contaminating the other good recyclables. But that doesn’t mean these items aren’t recyclable, it just means they need to be recycled in a different way
Recycling Plastic Bags and Stretchy Film Plastics
Plastic bags are one of the most common plastic wastes that can’t go in a regular recycle bin – they should never go in the bin loose nor packed with recyclables. (Any bagged recyclables end up as trash.)
Although recent New York law means single-use plastic bags are going to be phased out in 2020, right now they are still everywhere. Clean, dry, plastic bags can be dropped off at most large retail stores, grocery stores and chain pharmacies. You can usually find a clearly labeled recycling bin near the front doors.
But you can recycle other types of plastic bags and stretchy film plastics at these locations too. You can find the full of list of recyclable plastics here, which includes things like:
- Dry cleaning bags
- Bread bags
- Overwrap from things like paper towels, toilet paper and cases of water
- Produce bags without labels
- Newspaper bags
- Zip top bags
All these bags need to be clean and dry to be recycled, so if they have food residue or a label you can’t remove, they need to be thrown out. You can even recycle air pillows and bubble wrap that you receive in shipping packages. You do need to remove the air from them first, but my kids love to pop any bubble wrap we get, so that isn’t an issue in my house! The next time you are buying groceries make sure you gather up your clean and dry stretchy film plastics and drop them off for recycling.
Textiles are another item that can be recycled, just not by putting them in your curbside recycling bin. My family and I have frequently donated out grown clothing and old coats. But what I didn’t realize until recently is that fabric items do not have to be “wearable” to be recyclable.
Clothes and other textiles need to be clean and dry, but if they are ripped, or stained, or the zipper is broken that is fine. They can still be recycled to make things like industrial rags or insulation.
I was thrilled to learn this! I have been cleaning the basement this spring and I found a lot clothing and other things that need to go. It is good to know I can donate them even if they are in less than perfect condition and they can live another useful life!
My daughter helped me sort through stuff and organize our donations. We found faded curtains from a house we sold 22 years ago, a ratty bathrobe from the ‘80s, a jacket with a broken zipper and more. Some of the stuff we found was still usable, but a lot of it was not. I boxed all this stuff up to take to a donation center. Click here to learn more about textile donations.
And there are a lot of donation centers located all over Onondaga County. The website above has a searchable local database. I live at one edge of the county and there were still over 20 donation locations within 10 miles of my house. So finding a place to donate textiles for recycling is not difficult at all.
Learn More About Recycling at OCRRA’s Website
There are more items that you can recycle with just a bit of effort. The OCRRA website has instructions on how to dispose of many common household items. Things like batteries, fluorescent lights and more can be recycled. OCRRA is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation whose mission is to provide a comprehensive trash and recycling system for local residents. The OCRRA website has tons of information to educate you and help you and your family recycle right.
When it comes to recycling the most important thing is to make sure your family helps keep the curbside recycle stream clean by knowing what should and should not be recycled. Clean recycling needs to be the first priority. If you aren’t sure if something should go into your recycle bin and you don’t have time to look it up throw it out instead.
But once you have mastered clean recycling take the next step. Recycle those things like stretchy film plastics and textiles that are easy to recycle, but not appropriate for your blue bin. Take a little extra time and make the effort to take these items to the appropriate donation spot. You don’t even have to go out of your way to do this! Spending the time to recycle right will benefit everyone in our community and help protect the environment.