Recycling Basics—
The What and How for the Rest of Us

frazzled girlThe amount of information and seemingly endless facts about recycling is overwhelming. Product X is accepted, Product Y is not, and Product Z is accepted as long as you remove the cap, click your heels three times, and chant "there's no place like home." Can't someone just give me the recycling basics? How are we supposed to keep track of all these rules?

This is where I come in. After trying with very little success to help my husband remember all the household recycling "rules", I realized that he was likely not the only person in the world that had trouble figuring out the ins and outs of living in a household that recycles. So if you or a member of your family is still scratching their head over even the most straightforward recycling basics, here are a few hints that I hope you find helpful.

Bullet First things first...stop stressing! Do what you can and don't worry about the rest. I would rather that you recycle only what you are comfortable with than to get frustrated and decide that recycling is just too much trouble. Every little bit counts! Recycling is not about all or nothing. "You say you got a real solution. Well, you know, we'd all love to see the plan. You ask me for a contribution. Well you know, we're all doing what we can"

—Lennon/McCartney
Bullet Second, keep in mind that recycling includes more than just the typical paper, cans, and bottles. Every time that you donate your old clothes or have a yard sale, you are recycling, Yay you!
Bullet Third, practice makes perfect. OK, so we aren't really going for perfect, but the more you do it, the more naturally it will come to you. Just keep trying and before you know it, you won't even consciously think about it, you'll just do it.
Bullet Fourth, one person CAN make a difference. Every little bit counts. Oops, did I already say that? I did and I'll say it again,
Every Little Bit Counts!
Bullet And finally, K.I.S.S, Keep It Simple Silly. You don't have to invest all sorts of money for special bins or fancy sorting containers. I simply purchased a cheap second garbage can (a green one) and we use it for any item that can be recycled. Of course, if you would like to buy special bins and containers, they are definitely available.

Let's get started with the recycling basics...

More Recycling Basics

What to Recycle
A quick list of what to recycle without all the extras.

Recycling Quick List
A recycling quicklist reference sheet. Print it out and put it on your refrigerator or tape it to your recycling container.

Where to Recycle
So now that you have started a collection of recyclables, what do you do with them? Click here to learn where to recycle.

History of the Recycling Symbol
Provides information about the recycling symbol history. How it was designed, why was it designed, and who was the mind behind the arrows universally associated with recycling.