7 Ways to Pursue a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

In the United States alone, each person creates nearly 5 pounds of waste on a daily basis. However, there are some individuals who strive to bring that total down to zero. They are part of what is known as the zero-waste movement, an initiative that is encouraging consumers to think about the waste that they produce and take the necessary steps to eradicate it from their lives. Read on to explore seven ways that you can embark on your own journey toward zero-waste living:

  1. Avoid disposable kitchen products.

food storageYou can easily reduce your dependence on common disposable kitchen products by opting for a few eco-friendly alternatives. When it comes to kitchen waste, one of the chief culprits is food storage. If you currently use plastic containers to store your leftovers, then you should consider swapping them out for those made of stainless steel or glass, which will reduce the amount of plastic waste that you produce.

If you want to live waste-free, there are a number of other disposables that you should try to avoid. Try swapping plastic sandwich bags with reusable containers and dish sponges for a more eco-friendly lifestyle. You can also eliminate your dependence on aluminum foil by purchasing reusable fabrics and silicone sheets that you can use for food storage and cooking.

  1. Keep cloth products at the ready.

You can take a major step toward zero-waste living by using cloth products instead of paper ones. For example, you can consider swapping paper napkins for cloth versions. You can even find organic ones if you want to be truly eco-friendly.
It is also important that you completely eliminate paper towels from your home. Instead, you should always use kitchen towels, rags, or handkerchiefs for all your cleaning and drying needs. Handkerchiefs are also essential for when you are on the go. Keep one in your pocket for those times when you need to dry your hands or blow your nose.

  1. Refuse items that you don’t need.

Refusing what you know you don’t need is essential to eliminating all manner of waste from your life. The first step that you should take is to refuse any junk mail that your postal carrier brings by each week. The various publications and fliers that you receive are a drain on natural resources. To minimize the demand for these items, you should search for websites and programs that will allow you to opt out of receiving junk mail.


Similarly, you should always resist the temptation to bring home free items from your office or any events that you attend. Building up a collection of free pens will only create more waste in the end.

  1. Bring reusables when shopping.

You can follow the trend of abandoning plastic bags by bringing reusable totes with you whenever you go shopping. Many consumers keep these sustainable grocery bags in their cars to ensure that they will always be on hand for trips to the supermarket. In order to eliminate plastic bag waste, you will need to bring additional totes on shopping trips. For produce, you should use bags made of cotton mesh or another lightweight fabric instead of reaching for the plastic equivalent.

  1. Purchase items in bulk.

You can eliminate a reliance on pre-packaged items by purchasing them in bulk. Simply bring your own cloth bags or glass jars to use as storage when you pick out rice, flour, and other dry items that you need from the bulk bins at the grocery store. In addition, you should purchase important cleaning items such as laundry detergent and soap in bulk to avoid using too much plastic packaging.

  1. Make common household items yourself.

Instead of purchasing household items with excessive packaging, you can minimize waste by making a number of them right at home. With a little research, you can find recipes that will teach you how to make everything from moisturizer to cosmetics. You can even forego toothpaste by creating your own tooth cleaning powder. Another common source of disposable packaging is food. You should consider making your own bread, cereal, and canned produce to reduce this type of waste.

soda bread

  1. Take charge of your wardrobe.

When it comes to your clothes, you can reduce your waste in a number of ways. On shopping trips, you should always choose pre-owned clothing whenever possible. Not only will this help reduce the need for tags and packaging, but it will minimize the carbon emissions that the clothing industry creates throughout the production and transportation of new products. When you need to buy new items, you should always choose clothing with the least amount of packaging. In addition, it is important to purchase high-quality products instead of cheaper versions. These items will last longer and eliminate the need to purchase multiples of the same type of clothing.

Repairing and reusing your old clothing is another excellent way to live waste-free. To make the most out of your wardrobe, you should work with a local tailor or learn to sew. This will enable you to hem, re-fit, and fix old clothes to keep them looking brand new for years to come. When garments become too frayed, you can cut them up and use them as rags around the house. Otherwise, you should always donate any clothes that you no longer want or need instead of tossing them into the trash.


You Need to Know About These Innovative Recycling Startups

As more consumers turn to sustainable living, they are also looking to purchase from companies that share a similar dedication to the environment. In recent years, entrepreneurs from across the globe have begun to cater to this growing market by establishing eco-friendly startups. Many of these business owners have focused on recycling, which enables them to reuse old products in creative ways and help consumers to reduce the waste that they produce. Read on to explore a few of the innovative recycling startups that you should know about:

Green Toys (United States)

green toys logoWith facilities in San Francisco and Chicago, Green Toys is uniquely positioned to deliver its eco-friendly products to consumers across the United States. The startup is helping to eliminate milk jugs and other post-consumer plastics from the national recycling stream by using them to create all manner of tableware and children’s toys. As of 2016, Green Toys had used more than 45 million milk jugs in its products.

Green Toys’ manufacturing process begins with material recovery. After cleaning the milk jugs that it receives, the startup shreds them into small flakes so that it can process them for production. With the addition of safe food coloring, the plastics are ready to find new life as toys such as train sets, vehicles, and play kitchen pieces. Not only are these products sustainable, but they are also free from harmful toxins.

POM POM (India)

PomPom logoEntrepreneurs Deepak Sethi and Kishor K. Thakur established POM POM in an effort to accommodate the recycling needs of over 1 million people in South Delhi. Looking to make it more convenient for locals to recycle, the startup allows its clients to arrange for the pickup of any type of recyclable.

Through the POM POM website or mobile application, consumers can book collection services in a few simple steps. First, they must input the approximate weight of each material that they wish to recycle. After then inputting the pickup location, they will be able to select from a list of available time slots throughout the day. During collection, POM POM’s recycling representatives will digitally weigh each material to gauge the value and provide immediate compensation to the client. The system both simplifies the process of recycling for South Delhi residents and provides valuable incentives to those who participate.

Evrnu (United States)

evrnu logoThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans dispose of more than 13 million textiles every year. Of this total, 85 percent goes to landfills. The team behind the Seattle-based Evrnu has sought to reduce the amount of textile waste by recycling old clothes into brand-new fiber. Using its patented system, the startup takes solid textiles and turns them into a liquid that it then presses through a filter. The process generates a pure thread while using less water and fewer CO2 emissions than it typically takes to produce new cotton and polyester fibers. As a result, Evrnu has built a system that provides a sustainable outlook for the future of textile recycling and creation.

Indosole (Indonesia)

indosole logoIndonesia is known for its abundance of disposed motorcycle tires, which typically end up in landfills, rivers, and other dumping sites. While many developing countries opt to burn these materials to create fuel, this creates dangerous emissions. Recognizing the harmful environmental effects of these practices, Indonesian startup Indosole is saving tires and recycling them into sustainable footwear. The startup works directly with tire brokers to obtain the materials they need to create soles for shoes and sandals. During the manufacturing process, Indosole’s team carefully cuts each tire into a shape that will fit onto the bottom of a shoe. They then pair each sole with an artisan-crafted upper and adhere it using hammers, glue, and heat. With the addition of an insole, each piece of footwear is then ready for sale. Through this work, Indosole hopes to recycle 1 million tires that would have otherwise gone to landfills or been burned.

EcoPort (Hong Kong)

ecoport logoSince its inception in 2014, EcoPort has become one of the leading recycling entities in Hong Kong. Pairing sustainability with technology, the startup is making it easier than ever for the city’s residents and businesses to recycle. Through EcoPort, local consumers can request a wide range of recycling services such as on-demand collection and recycling bin drop-off. To help its clients monitor their environmental impact, the startup also allows them to connect to their own unique Waste Dashboard. This useful tool shows them how much waste they create, how much they recycle, and where it goes.

In order to encourage more people to recycle, EcoPort also focuses much of its work on the realm of education. To this end, the startup regularly sponsors recycling events in the local community and works with schools to develop better educational tools for students.

Garbags (Portugal)

garbags logoPortugal-based Garbags is dedicated to minimizing the amount of waste that goes into landfills. After spending years researching and testing new ways to recycle common household materials, the startup has developed a product line that allows it to breathe new life into used drink containers, toothpaste holders, coffee cans, and other packaging materials.

Garbags works with both locals and its network of green business partners, both of whom regularly donate their recycled packaging. Through the upcycling process, the startup turns these materials into useful products such as backpacks and bicycle storage bags. To date, Garbags has helped divert more than 170,000 packages from landfills.



5 Interesting Methods That You Can Use to Recycle

We all know the three R’s to live sustainably: reduce, reuse, recycle. However, this basic knowledge is not enough to tell us how to use this mantra to pursue a greener lifestyle. When it comes to recycling at home and at work, there are a number of different methods that you can use to minimize your contributions to the global waste and recycling stream. Read on to explore five common types of recycling:

  1. Precycling

supermarketPrecycling provides consumers with a means of reducing or eliminating waste before producing it, thereby minimizing the need to recycle. Most of the time, this practice requires consumers to purchase items that will generate little to no waste at the end of their life cycle. However, many who precycle also choose products that they can later reuse in a new way.

There are countless ways to precycle at home and on the go. When shopping at the grocery store, it is important to avoid any products with excess packaging. Thus, buying bulk items is a much more eco-friendly option. At checkout, using reusable bags to store your purchases will help to minimize the need for plastic bags. Other effective precycling methods include purchasing digital versions of movies and songs instead of CDs or DVDs, always opting for rechargeable batteries, and drinking from reusable cups.

  1. Multi-stream recycling

Sometimes referred to as “sorted-stream” recycling, multi-stream collection was the preferred method of recycling in the United States for many years. The method involves separating each type of recyclable prior to weekly curbside pickup. Individuals and businesses that participate in multi-stream programs often use designated bins to make sure that they properly separate each recyclable. In order to ensure continued separation during pick-up, recycling trucks will place each recyclable into its own compartment. Once they reach a recycling facility, these materials are sorted before they are sent to manufacturers around the world for re-use.

While the multi-stream method provides a comprehensive means of recycling, it also has its disadvantages. Not only do retrieval workers need to stop for a longer time at each residence and business on their route, but they also need to handle more recycling at each location. In addition, requiring consumers to separate reach recyclable by type can make the process complicated and burdensome. As a result, multi-stream recycling patrons sometimes end up throwing their recyclables into the trash instead of taking the time to sort them into designated bins.

  1. Single-stream recycling

glass recyclingRecognizing the various challenges that surround multi-stream recycling, more entities in the recycling industry have adopted the alternative method of single-stream recycling (also known as mixed stream recycling). Consumers who use this system are free to combine their various paper, plastic, glass, and metal recyclables into a single recycling bin. All of the recycled materials then go into a single-compartment recycling truck that brings them to a nearby materials recovery facility (MRF) for processing and sorting.

The more simplified single-stream recycling process can provide a number of benefits to consumers and collectors alike. The system allows recycling facilities to accept a wider array of materials without the need to additional trucks and time to their pickup routes. With shorter routes and less equipment, recyclers are able to save money. On the consumer end, a single-stream system makes it easier for individuals to recycle at home and at work. The simplicity of this method encourages more people to recycle, which ultimately results in more waste diversion.

Despite these benefits, single-stream recycling systems do have their shortcomings. The method can often raise costs for recycling facilities, which need to more time to carefully sort all the recyclables they receive. However, perhaps the biggest issue with this type of recycling method is the contamination of materials. For example, PET bottles and corrugated cardboard can sometimes contaminate an entire batch of recycled paper.

  1. Source separated recycling

Source separated recycling (sometimes called dual stream recycling) is a method that requires consumers to sort their recyclables before placing them into their designated bins. Mainly, these recyclables go into two “streams”: one for paper-based products and the other for glass and plastic materials. This recycling method places the power of sorting into the hands of the consumer, who must separate recyclables at the source.

Facilities that utilize source separated recycling can build upon the benefits that single-stream recycling provides. The main benefit of the dual stream system is that it minimizes the need for recyclers to process the items they receive. Source separation also results in less contamination of materials, which increases the volume of recyclable goods.

  1. Upcycling

For nearly a century, consumers have used upcycling to make new use of the products and materials that they have around their homes. Originally, this method of recycling enabled families with little money to repurpose everything from doors to used sacks of animal feed. Upcycling only continued to increase in popularity over the years due to its money-saving benefits. In recent years, however, consumers have begun to see a second benefit of upcycling: reducing their environmental footprint.

Unlike traditional recycling, upcycling does not require the use of energy to sort, process, and break down recyclable materials for remanufacturing. In addition, it enables consumers to reduce the volume of waste that they contribute to the waste stream. With a little creativity and the right knowledge, anyone can practice upcycling and give new purpose to used items. For example, plastic bottles can become garden planters, and barn doors can become dining room tables.

9 Recycling and Waste Management Terms You Need to Know

Every industry has its own set of vocabulary that makes it easier for employees to communicate and get their work done. The recycling and waste management sector, for example, boasts a wide array of specific terminology that you can learn to help you lead a more sustainable life. Read on to explore a few of these terms:


The process through which microorganisms, like worms and bacteria, aid in the decomposition of organic elements. By consuming and processing organic matter, these agents can rapidly break it down into simple, natural elements, like water or carbon dioxide. This process not only ensures that no organic material goes to waste, but it also generates crucial nourishment for the flora and fauna in the environment. Composting, a process through which organic waste decomposes to create nutrient-rich soil, is one way that people harness the power of biodegradation to recycle waste products.

Bulk waste


Items that cannot fit into traditional waste or recycling receptacles due to their large size. Though bulk waste can encompass any number of products, some of the most common items are home appliances and furniture. Many cities run waste management programs that provide bulk trash services to locals. In some municipalities, homeowners can leave their bulk waste out for retrieval on designated pickup days. In other locations, residents can typically call their local waste management company and arrange for special retrieval.

Closed-loop recycling

The process of using discarded materials to generate new versions of the same items. Using this system, manufacturing facilities take all manner of waste, including scrap materials produced in the manufacturing process, and use them to create brand-new products. This “closed loop” enables companies to rely solely on their waste to provide the source materials for new items.


The mixing of numerous different types of recyclable materials into a single container. When waste management workers accept commingled materials, it simplifies the process of recycling for their consumers and can lead to greater participation in recycling programs. However, commingling can sometimes make recyclables more difficult to sort and process if the materials are contaminated by any kind of non-recyclable waste. As such, commingled recyclables must always remain separate from regular household trash.



Sites that workers use to dispose of municipal solid waste. Though sometimes referred to as “dumps,” these locations serve as more than a mere dumping ground for trash. Waste workers create landfills by carefully condensing trash into layers and then blanketing them with soil on a daily basis. To preserve the surrounding ecosystem, waste management workers line each landfill and use special methods to monitor and contain any contaminated runoff that they produce. Some landfills, known as “sanitary landfills,” are constructed in special ways to further mitigate the risk of hazardous drainage. There also exist landfills that are designed specifically to hold chemicals and other dangerous materials.

Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)

A plant dedicated to processing recyclables so that they can re-enter the product stream. Upon receiving recyclable items from consumers, MRFs use either workers or machines to sort all materials by kind and pack each group into bales. The facilities then sell the recyclables to outside manufacturers, who use them to produce brand-new items.

Post-consumer waste

The items that consumers use to their full purpose and then discard. These materials usually go to landfills or incinerators, but some of them go to recycling facilities, which transform them into raw materials, known as post-consumer recyclables, that companies use to create new goods.


The practice of buying and using products that create little to no waste. Swapping out plastic bags for reusable totes, plastic wrap for solid containers, and paper for digital materials are only some of the ways that consumers can engage in precycling.

Zero waste

The idea of a completely waste-free society in which the citizens recycle or reuse all disposable materials. To achieve a perfect zero-waste system, waste management professionals would need to create ways of eradicating the presence of waste while salvaging all possible materials. Concurrently, manufacturers would need to develop products that are easier to recycle than to throw away. Unlike most waste management systems, which focus on the disposal of waste, the zero-waste model focuses primarily on preserving resources and eradicating harmful waste emissions.

5 of the Most Clever Ways to Upcycle Tin Cans

When you look into your pantry, you may find a small mountain of tins cans that are waiting to be opened. Like most others, you probably plan to toss your cans into the recycling bin after you are done using them, thereby allowing recyclers to process them and use them to create new cans. However, you can also give tin cans a new life by upcycling them. Through this process, you will transform them into new, useful household items. From cooking tools to flower holders, here are a few of the cleverest ways to upcycle your used tin cans:

  1. Vases

You can use clean old tin cans to create all manner of beautiful vases for your home. One way to do this is to line the outside of a can with patterned felt to complement the colors of the flowers that you will put inside. To achieve a more sophisticated look for your tin can vase, you can run a long strand of rope around the exterior. This will not only lend a nautical aesthetic to the can, but it will also add texture and hide the can’s metallic face. Top your new vase off with some white flowers for a truly elegant finish.

tin cans

There are many other beautiful design alternatives that you can use to transform your old tin cans into stunning vases. For example, you can coat them with spray paint in metallic shades such as copper and gold, adorn them with beautiful textured wallpaper, or assemble them into multiple tiers.

  1. Flower planters

You can also use tin cans to house the various flowers and plants that you are growing around the house. One pretty yet practical DIY project is to create a stunning herb garden. First, take your old cans and fill them with soil. Then, tie a label around them so that you know what you are growing. Alternatively, you can add more decorative flair by giving each can a nice coat of copper spray paint and then sticking a mini chalkboard label on each one.

Tin cans also work well as planters in your outdoor garden. The small size of most tin cans makes them perfect containers for vertical gardens. To achieve this look, you should coat the cans with vibrant paint and then adhere them to your outdoor fence. You can also hang cans by different lengths of string to create a staggered effect.

  1. Lighting

It’s easy to repurpose your tin cans into beautiful light pieces. One method is to use large tin cans as pendant lighting for your dining room. After painting them in your desired color, you can suspend them from the ceiling via electrical wiring and place a bulb inside. This will add a bit of color and light to your dining room or kitchen.

Another idea is to make unique lampshades out of larger tin cans. Simply cut a pattern into the body of the can to let light flow through. Let your imagination go wild and create any design you wish. Don’t forget to add a coat of paint to your shade before attaching it to the base of your lamp.

You can also turn old tin cans into elegant luminaries. Start by punching small holes into the cans in intricate designs or simple patterns. Then, place a tea light or larger candle inside that will emit a soft glow through the motifs on the can. To hang your creation, attach a wire handle to opposite sides of the can.

  1. Baking tools

A used tin can is also the perfect substitute for a traditional cake pan. As long as you clean it of all food residues first, you can use any non-coated tin can for your baking projects. Within minutes, you can make a petite cake that you can cut into multiple tiers and serve as a birthday cake or as a personal treat.

tin can

If you would prefer a dessert other than cake, then you can use your old tin cans to bake mini pies instead. Simply line the inside with pie crust, fill it to the brim with your desired fruit, and then bake it right in the can. To get even more use out of your upcycled tin can, you can use it to bake delicious breads or use the open end to cut out biscuits from freshly made dough.

  1. Portable stove

You can even use tin cans to build a portable stove for all your camping excursions. All you will need is one large can, one small can, and a few tools from around the home. Start by using a hammer to punch a hole in the side of the larger can. With pliers, create small flaps around the edges of the opening. Then, slide the smaller can inside this hole and secure it by bending the flaps down. This will create an opening through which you will be able to add wood and create a fire. Finally, finish the stove off by making a “burner” at the top. You can achieve this effect by placing a third can inside the body of the stove and cutting small notches around its rim.

5 of the Most Important Recycling Trends to Watch Right Now

Since the advent of recycling, we have continually looked for innovative ways to improve how we reduce, reuse, and recycle our used goods. This search has given rise to a number of exciting trends that will dramatically impact the recycling and waste management industry in the years to come. Read on to explore five of the emerging trends that you should be watching right now:

  1. Emphasis on composting

compost-419261_1280Composting will become an increasingly popular means of recycling biodegradable goods. Though many people already use this method to break down their food waste, this trend is only just beginning to take off. Municipalities across the globe have begun to add community-wide composting programs that encourage residents to divert their food items from landfills. For example, Sunnyvale, California, has tested two separate composting initiatives that use a split-cart system to encourage locals to recycle their food scraps. By encouraging households to separate food items from other trash, the city has made it easier to recover scraps and reuse them as animal feed.

Programs like this will only become more popular as communities continue to encourage both individuals and food service businesses to use it in daily life. In some locations, composting is even on its way to becoming a mandatory practice.

  1. The plastics ban

One of the most significant recycling trends in recent years has been the ban on non-recyclable plastics. Numerous communities across the globe have adopted these restrictions to minimize the presence of plastics that require millennia to degrade, causing harm to the environment in the process. In the past, US states such as Hawaii and California have taken steps to prohibit the use of plastic grocery bags, a trend that other governments will likely follow in the future.

Styrofoam is another major target of the plastics ban. Sometimes known as expanded polystyrene foam, this type of plastic is composed of manufactured chemicals and other non-renewable materials. Not only does this make Styrofoam non-recyclable, but it also eliminates its ability to biodegrade like other materials. Major cities such as New York City have spearheaded the effort to eliminate Styrofoam containers and reduce pollution in the waste stream. As more municipalities recognize the harmful effects that this material can have on the environment, we will see the number of similar bans continue to rise.

  1. Adoption of 3D printing

3d printerAn increasingly popular manufacturing option, 3D printing is capable of creating everything from small, detailed items to large-scale industrial components. As useful as this technology may be, it is not sustainable in its current form. In order to produce most 3D printed creations, individuals must typically input plastic-based materials. As a result, this phenomenon has caused the demand for plastic to increase.

However, the future of 3D printing will shift away from this dependence on new plastics in favor of recycled materials. People can already use any type of household plastic in their 3D-printed creations, thereby reducing the waste that they produce. The possibilities do not stop with plastic, however. In the future, 3D printing could enable us to use recycled materials in the production of everything from buildings to automobiles. This sustainable trend will be one in which both individuals and corporations can participate.

  1. Increased concerns about e-waste

Electronics have become an integral part of life. Despite the importance of smartphones, computers, and other consumer devices, this increased use of electronics has caused great concern for entities in the waste management sector. Every device will, ultimately, become electronic waste, or e-waste. The toxic composition of these products makes them notoriously difficult to recycle through traditional means. As a result, most of them end up in electronic landfills.

As we continue to use more electronic devices, the amount of this e-waste will only increase. This has posed a unique challenge for the recycling industry, which will need to search for solutions in the coming years. Already, e-waste is finding more sustainable uses thanks to the work of individuals like West African inventor Kodjo Afate Gnikou, who used scrap electronics to create a functioning 3D printer. Similar recycling innovations will be essential to diminishing the world’s volume of e-waste.

  1. Implementation of technology

Technology is becoming an increasingly important asset in industries ranging from health care to commerce. Though the waste management sector has been behind this trend for many years, soon we will see these companies integrate the technology into more and more recycling practices.

For instance, in order to increase their productivity and sustainability, recycling facilities will adopt the use of revolutionary technologies such as anaerobic digestion, which has already been adopted by some facilities across the United States and Europe. Using anaerobic digestion devices, recyclers can turn up to 100 tons of organic waste into usable bioenergy on a daily basis.

Robotics is another innovative technology that is set to change the face of the recycling industry. In the years to come, the sector will see increased use of robots capable of sorting and breaking up recyclables more accurately than current practices allow. In fact, such technologies have already begun to appear. In 2016 tech giant Apple introduced Liam, a groundbreaking machine that can fully dismantle an iPhone in only 11 seconds. This has set a precedent for future robotic technologies that will become integral parts of the entire recycling process.

What You Need to Know about the Most Common Non-Recyclable Items

When you are looking to become more effective at recycling, knowing exactly what you can recycle is half the battle. It is equally as important, however, that you understand what you should not place into your recycling bin each week. If you try to recycle items that you shouldn’t, then you can cause entire batches of recyclable goods to end up in landfills. As such, you will need to brush up on the most common non-recyclable items if you wish to lead a more environmentally friendly life. Read on to explore several of the products that you should never recycle:

Plastic grocery bags

plastic bagJust because an item is made of plastic does not always mean that it is recyclable. One of the most common examples of this is the plastic grocery bag, which you should never include with your regular recycling. The flimsy nature of these products often causes them to become entangled in recycling equipment. They can even cause damage to entire sorting machines.

Therefore, you will need to pursue alternate recycling methods for your plastic bags. For example, you can save your plastic grocery bags and take them to your local store for specially marked recycling bins. Alternatively, you should consider saving your plastic bags and reusing them at home.

Various paper products

Contrary to what you may think, recycling companies will not accept every type of paper product. Any paper that is dyed a bright color is typically unfit for recycling. If recycling facilities try to process even one sheet of colorful paper, then it can contaminate an entire load of otherwise recyclable papers. During the process of heat treatment, dyed papers usually bleed into the white papers and color the entire batch. A good rule of thumb is to never recycle sheets of paper that are darker than pastel.

You should also refrain from recycling your shredded paper. Whole sheets of paper can generally undergo the recycling process up to eight times, but shredded paper may not be eligible for recycling at all. By breaking sheets down into smaller pieces, you both reduce the value of these materials and make it more difficult for recyclers to sort and process them. Shredded paper is also more liable to cause jams in recycling machines. For these reasons, you should compost these materials rather than recycle them.

Plastic bottle caps

bottlecapThe majority of plastic bottle caps are composed of a unique type of plastic known as polypropylene. Designated by their No. 5 label, these materials are not as easily recyclable as the standard No. 1 and No. 2 plastics that are used to make bottles. As such, many recycling entities will not accept plastic caps along with your regular recycling. This means that you should remove and separate any soda bottle lids or laundry detergent caps from other recyclables.

In recent years, however, some recycling facilities have adopted machinery that enables them to process polypropylene along with other plastics. When in doubt, you should call your local recycler to see if they are able to accept plastic bottle caps.

Certain household items

Some of your household items require special recycling and cannot be included along with your regular weekly recyclables. For example, you can almost never recycle aerosol cans. You might think that you could recycle these cans along with other steel and aluminum items from around the house, but aerosol cans are known as hazardous items because their contents are highly flammable and can emit harmful chemicals. You should, therefore, ensure that these items are empty of all product before you try to recycle them. Some cities won’t accept aerosol containers at all, even when they are empty. If your city does not take these items, then you will need to dispose of them in the trash.

You should also pay attention to the types of household glass that you recycle. Though recycling entities will always accept some glass items such as bottles and jars, they will not accept a number of other common products. Large glass items such as old mirrors and windows are never eligible for recycling. In addition, you should never place any household dishes into your recycling bin, particularly if they are made of ceramic.


Sometimes called expanded polystyrene, Styrofoam is a product that you can never recycle, regardless of the form it comes in. Styrofoam products such as cups and packing materials often bear the No. 5 or No. 6 labels, which can fool you into thinking that you can recycle it with similar materials. However, Styrofoam is a petroleum-based material that is easily combustible. As such, it poses a great risk to recycling facilities. In addition, the recycling process leaves it with very few leftover materials, which makes it unsuitable for reuse in new products.


medicationsIt is crucial that you take extra caution when disposing of medications, whether they are old prescriptions or expired over-the-counter medicine. Never opt to simply throw medications away where children and pets can easily access them. Many people even use their household drains as an alternate disposal method, but this can cause medicine to wash into the local water supply. You may consider recycling as a third option for disposal, but recycling entities will only accept your plastic medication containers.

Instead of recycling, look into which companies will accept your old medications. Some entities allow you to send them pills and other unsafe products, which they will then destroy through the process of incineration.