This guest post is by Felicia Baratz of Eat Breathe Blog.
Recycling is no longer viewed as a service for the environment. It’s now a necessary practice to preserve the world for future generations. The items recycled by families around the world prevent millions of tons of garbage from being deposited into landfills each year. Items including clothing, paper goods and even unexpected appliances like water filters can be recycled for reuse and repurposing. But some items are better off not being recycled. Next time you’re heading to the recycling bin, check this list first to make sure you don’t include items that are dangerous, unacceptable or can be reused.
Sometimes Recycling Isn’t the Best Idea
- Aluminum Aerosol Cans. We’ve all been taught to recycle aluminum soda cans, but aluminum aerosol cans are a different story. Aerosol sprays contain harmful chemicals and contaminants that are dangerous for the soil and environment. Rather than dropping these in the recycling bin, they should be thrown away in the trash. Most city governments consider aerosol cans to be hazardous materials and many can be flammable.
- Biohazardous Material. If anyone in your family uses needles or other medical supplies to treat health conditions, such as diabetes, these should be disposed of in appropriate biohazard bins. It’s not safe to recycle any items that come in contact with bodily fluids. Medical facilities must follow strict biohazard disposal procedures to ensure safety. Create your own biohazard disposal bin at home and then dispose of these items in the trash, not the recycling bin.
- Chemical Containers. Paint containers and fluids for the car are items that shouldn’t go anywhere near a recycling bin. Many automotive stores can help you find an appropriate place to recycle or dispose of empty oil or antifreeze containers. Check with your local hardware store for eco-friendly options for paint can disposal.
- Diapers. Dirty diapers are similar in nature to medical waste items. Placing them in the recycling container puts others at risk. Although diapers contain paper and plastic components, the cost of separating the recyclable parts from the parts that must be thrown away is too high. Since dirty diapers aren’t good for the environment, you can use cloth diapers if you want to be more environmentally friendly.
- Batteries. The small batteries in your television remote, the car battery that keeps your car running and all batteries in between should not be placed in recycling bins. Car batteries can often be recycled at automotive stores or garages. Small batteries can typically be disposed of in the trash unless your city has a special place for disposal.
- Greasy Food Containers. Paper and cardboard containers are recyclable until they become coated with grease from food. These items cause a lot of confusion because most people have learned to be conscientious about recycling paper goods. Unfortunately, greasy pizza or takeout containers often can’t be reused because the oils soak through the paper, rendering them useless.
- Used Kitchen Paper Products. The same concepts are true for paper napkins and towels. Once they become covered with food stains, they’re no longer suitable for recycling. It’s simple to solve this recycling quandary – use washable products instead of paper ones. If you’re too busy to wash napkins and towels, cut down on your use by using paper towels that allow you to tear off half a towel instead of a whole one.
Image courtesy of Canton Public Library
Looking Toward the Future of the Environment
As you learn more about the items you should avoid recycling, you can be more mindful about not purchasing them. Replace paper napkins and towels with cloth napkins and towels. Use refillable drink bottles instead of buying water bottles at the store. Make the process of becoming greener at home an easy one for your family by creating a list of items that can be recycled and items that should not be put in the recycling bin. The small efforts made at home add up to become big, positive impacts on today’s environment.
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