Tuesday's Tip: Recycling

August 10,2010
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house for lunch with a couple other moms. The hostess mentioned how when she walks in her neighborhood she notices how often there are many un-recyclable items in her neighbor’s recycling bin. What followed was a discussion of what is and is not truly recyclable, which continued as a Facebook conversation that had dozens of comments. After reading the comments on Facebook and hearing friends discuss it, one thing quickly became clear: there is a lot of confusion about what is recyclable and a lot of debate as to how best ensure what you recycle is actually recycled. For today’s Tuesday’s Tip, I offer some good general rules for recycling kitchen items. Be sure to check with your locality or recycling company however to ensure you know the specifics of your recycling system (most offer good tips online and you can find “acceptable items” list quick and easy): *First, anything you recycle should be clean. Paper food containers (pizza boxes included!) should be free from any grease and cleaned. For this reason alone, most of our family’s peanut butter jars do not get recycled, merely because I feel as though the water I would use to fully clean them would cancel out any benefit from recycling the jar. *Second, remove any label as must as possible. Water bottles, food cans and other items can easily have their labels removed, and it takes just a few seconds, so do it. *Third, remove any lid and/or ring to plastic containers. *Fourth, many items, while they can be recycled, cannot be mixed with curbside items. For instance, plastic grocery bags, kids’ drink pouches and drink boxes and other household items can usually find a home at a specific recycling spot (in the case of plastic bags, most grocery stores now have receptacles for grocery bags inside the entrance), but they may not be sent out with cans, bottles and the like. *Fifth, make sure your recycling items are loose. Do not throw out your recycling in grocery bags that are tied shut (especially now that you know you can’t recycle these bags). All recycling should be loose so it can easily be sorted when necessary. *Last, check out the website for your local recycling provider for further information. It takes next to no time and you can even print out their “acceptable items” list and post it in a convenient place as a reminder. Perhaps you already know this and are practicing good recycling habits. Kudos to you! But for those of you like my friend’s neighbors, a little extra effort can make all your recycling end up where it needs to go. SPC