We all want to do our part to help the planet. But when it comes to recycling, it's difficult to know what actually goes into the green bin. If you're taking the first step by being part of the more than
32 percent of people who recycle in the US, you might as well spend a few extra minutes to make sure your paper, plastic, and glass products are actually getting processed.
While every county or city has its own set of guidelines, there are a few general rules to follow regardless of your zip code. To start, we've mapped out a few mistakes that you
might be making when it comes to putting items in the bin — and how to correct them. Whether it's how to properly dispose of dead batteries or purchasing products made with rPET plastic, like DASANI's new bottles, read through to uncover the solutions to your everyday recycling woes.
If It's Covered in Food, It Goes in the Trash
Recycling centers rely on clean containers to give objects new life. Think about it: empty and dry items prevent mold, odors, and unwanted critters from contaminating your recycling. But you don't need to scrub that plastic berry pint like a dirty dish you plan to eat off of — just take a few seconds to give it a quick rinse to clear away any food residue. Those cardboard pizza boxes soaked in grease go into the trash, though.
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Break Down Your Hardcover Books
It seems like hardcover books are naturally destined for the recycling bin — after all, they're mostly made of paper — but they're actually pretty tricky to recycle. To do so, you'll need to
remove the binding to throw away and only recycle the pages. If your book is still in decent condition, consider donating it to your local library, dropping it off at your neighborhood's little free library, or passing it on to a friend.
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Batteries Are a Big No
Although today's technology doesn't rely on single-charge batteries as much, you may have some old, used-up ones stored in the back of your garage or basement. Batteries contain toxic metals, and if not handled properly, they can pollute your district's water systems and soil. Luckily, your sanitation department may host
special disposal events or have drop-off locations for this type of waste. If not, many grocery stores and big-name hardware stores also offer take-back programs for batteries that have reached the end of their lifespan, so check out your local retailers to see if they offer these services.
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Purchase Recycled Plastic Bottles
When you're perusing the beverage aisle, look for brands that use recycled plastic, also known as rPET, for their packaging.
DASANI is one brand taking that major step by producing water bottles made up of 100-percent rPET plastic.* DASANI estimates this innovation will reduce over 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions in the next year alone, which has the same effect as taking more than 6,000 cars off the road. This innovation will extend the life of what was once single-use plastic into a sustainable — and reusable — solution.
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Sort Through Your Items
If single-stream recycling isn't available in your district, that probably means you need to sort through your waste. Before you drop off the bin at the curb, take a few minutes to divide your recyclables into the proper plastic bags. For example,
New York City requires its residents to separate cardboard and mixed paper from plastic, metal, and glass. If you're not sure what goes where, check your district's sanitation department website for guidance.
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Upcycle Those Plastic Bags
It feels like every household has a bag of bags stuffed under their sink. These plastic bags are technically categorized as film plastic, and they're not recyclable. Instead of throwing them in the trash, upcycle the bags! Reuse them for those small trash cans throughout your home, to pack your shoes into a suitcase, or even as a shower cap for your hair between wash days.
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Toss the Takeout and Freezer Containers
Not all paper boxes are created equal. If you look closely, most freezer food boxes and takeout containers have a heavy wax or plastic coating — think: fried-rice containers, ice-cream boxes, and most single-use, to-go coffee cups. There's no way for
recycling centers to separate the fibers, which prevents these items from getting a new life. Juice, milk, and soup cartons can still be processed, though, so toss them in the bin.
*DASANI bottle caps and labels are not made from 100 percent rPET plastic.
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See How DASANI Is Striving to Reduce Its Environmental Footprint
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