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How to Recycle Wrong

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Recycling relieves the environment of a burden, but can it ever be harmful? Is there a way to recycle wrong? It's not necessarily the recycling that can be incorrect; it's the steps leading up to the act of recycling that can cause more harm than good. Not only can they counteract the good that you've done with your recycling, but they can actually cost you some money. Now that you're recycling, make sure that you're doing it correctly.


Cut the Emissions

You've sorted all of your office paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastics, and newspapers. Now it's time to take it to the local recycling facility since your local pickup doesn't recycle to this extent. You're being an angel to the planet with your intention, but you're adding emissions to the atmosphere with your extra trip to the recycling center.

The most ideal solution is to petition your city or township to increase your recycling items so that curbside pickup is available to everyone. Aside from this utopian pickup option, you can save emissions with a little planning. Note the location of your recycling center and what's nearby. Do you drive to that area of town to pick up your prescriptions? Is it near your work? Couple your recycling drop-off with another errand to limit your emissions. If you're a die hard recycler anyway, you'll already have planned a more fuel efficient trip.


Don't Overpackage

There's a recycling bin at the side of your house for office paper. Too big to tote to the center, it requires you to pack your paper into another container for transport. This isn't a problem unless you have a habit of grabbing one of the plastic trash bags. The next time you visit the recycling center, watch the people who dump office paper. They empty large plastic trash bags then pitch the bag into the trash bin. Their good deeds have been lessened by their lack of planning. Instead, package your recyclables in other recyclables. Use totes that are small enough to transport or package paper in cardboard boxes that can be tossed in the neighboring bin.

Follow the Rules

Recycling centers and municipal collectors have rules in place as far as what items they accept and which ones they decline. You're not doing the planet a favor by breaking these rules. Like many municipalities, yours may not accept aluminum foil in the metal recycling. Obey this rule. Breaking it only requires more manpower to sort, and it will never get to the recycling center anyway. The rules are there for a reason and they need to be obeyed.

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