Do you feel like you have a handle on what you can recycle curbside? Remember, the heavier your recycling bin, the lighter your garbage can! If you have a smaller garbage can, you pay a smaller fee! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could drop down to twice-a-month service! There is money to be saved!
How can we do this? Let’s trash-talk for a moment. Yup, I mean talk about what is IN your trash. You may be surprised to know what things you can recycle.
Plastics are forever but luckily, they can be recycled. It’s the least we can do for the Earth.
Bags…we have tons of them! I know many frugal readers use their canvas bags, but even so, we end up with more grocery plastic bags than we know what to do with. Reuse those as much as possible. We especially want to reuse the “crinkle” bags. By this I mean bags from cereal, crackers, bread, and chips. These are landfill bound, so you might as well give them a second use before the hit the pile. I use them for stinky diapers or kitchen meal prep items that are soggy and messy and will completely stink up the kitchen.
Storage bags and plastic wrap. Frugal folks don’t want to buy more plastic bags…unless they are free (wink, wink!). Rinse and dry those bags and wrap and reuse them! I reuse them until they tear. It is a total waste of resources to only use those bags once! At the minimum, recycle them.
What is recyclable – any stretchy plastic bag or film. If you can poke your finger through it, it’s stretchy. Of course, if you want to reuse these for garbage liners, etc, that is way better for the good ‘ol Earth than purchasing garbage bags. But consider this: cheese wrappers, cheese stick wrappers, ziplock bags, saran wrap, fruit roll-up film, potato bags, bagel bags, frozen food bags….do you see where I’m going? As long as you wash off any food contamination, it can be recycled!
These bags or plastic film can be recycled at your grocery store or at places like Far West Fibers (find locations in Oregon and Spokane, Washington here). Other plastics that are recyclable, but require going to a recycling center vs. curbside are:
- caps, lids (including your Starbucks cup lid)
- plastic toys and their plastic packaging
- jewel cases for CDx
- small bottles (vitamins and medicine – empty)
- shampoo bottles, lotion bottles, gel bottles (please take time to rinse out the bottles)
- deodorant housing
- clam shell packaging – berries, take-out food, grape tomatoes, etc.
*Pump spouts (hand soap) and lids of product (gel) cannot be recycled due to the amount of product that gets stuck in the device.
Not recyclable, but easily reusable are the crinkly (versus rigid) nursery pots. These are usually the small pots from plant starts or small flowers. The best thing to do with these is either reuse them yourself or take them to a nearby nursery.
Think about what you throw away in your garbage. What could we save from the landfill? Think about your purchases and recycle when you can.
Paper is most easily recycled at the curb, yet there is some confusion and forgetfulness about what to recycle.
Things that get forgotten:
- toilet paper and paper towel rolls
- labels on cans
- box packaging on toys
- tissue paper (used for wrapping) – if you have an abundance of this, make sure it gets put in a paper bag so it doesn’t fly away when being dumped into the recycling truck.
- shoe boxes
Books cannot be recycled at the curb, however there are drop-off options for books. You can take them to Goodwill or Far West Fibers. They have bins for hardback books. Your soft cover books can go to Far West Fibers in the ‘mixed paper’ bin.
Athletic shoes can be recycled! Isn’t that awesome? Take these to Far West Fibers so they can turn them into sport court floors.
Once you get the hang of recycling, there is no doubt you will run into items that will cause you to ask, “Can I recycle this?” Give your local recycling depot a quick call and find out! It should take moments and keep our landfills from overflowing. I have my three local depots listed on my office corkboard so that it is easy to give them a call.
In the Portland Metro area, the three that I use are:
Total Reclaim (Oregon, Washington and Alaska locations)
This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.