Recycling Mistakes You Didn’t Even Realize You’ve Been Making

Wanting to be eco-friendly and actually being eco-friendly are two very different things. When it comes to recycling habits, you may feel great that you take the time to recycle; however, you may not realize that one simple mistake in that large recycling bin will cost you all of that effort. We’ve compiled the most common recycling mistakes to help ensure you’re as eco-friendly as you feel you are!

You Don’t Wash Everything First

The number one recycling faux pas is not washing items out before tossing them into your bin. You may have the right items, such as aluminum cans, clear plastic bottles, etc. However, if there is any food residue or juices still present, you have just contaminated the entire bin of recyclables.

Before tossing anything into a bin, make sure you rinse them out entirely first. Yes, it’s an extra, semi-annoying step in the process, but it’s the only surefire way to ensure your recyclables actually are recycled.

You’re Leaving Tape on Boxes

So you’ve been recycling those cardboard boxes? Great! Have you been removing the tape from those boxes? If not, unfortunately, that box is no longer recyclable.

Plastic tapes that keep cardboard boxes closed are not recyclable items, which means that when you recycle a cardboard box with that tape still on it, you’ve just ensured that a bin of items is on its way to the dump instead.

Do Not Recycle Coffee Cups

If you’re a bit of a caffeine addict, you’ve likely accumulated your fair share of paper or Styrofoam cups. Unfortunately, these cups belong in the garbage, not in the recycling bin. Neither item is recyclable, so if it ends up in that container, it’s officially landing your entire recycling bin in the nearest landfill.

Do Not Use a Trash Bag for Your Recyclables

If you have a kitchen trash can, it’s a good idea to also have a recycling bin in your kitchen to promote its utilization. However, while you likely use trash bags in your trashcan, they do not belong in the recycling bin.

If you need to use them to line your kitchen bin, that’s totally fine. Just make sure that when you go to empty it for your trash pick-up, that you’re dumping the recyclables out of the bag rather than tying the bag and throwing it in. If you send your recyclables out in a trash bag, they will likely not make it to the recycling facility.

Don’t Bother Removing Labels

Many individuals have been wasting time removing labels from cans, plastic bottles, etc.

There’s no need to do this. Oddly enough, labels can be left just as they are, so long as they are clean and won’t contaminate the rest of the recycling bin! The heat from the recycle process eliminates the label!

Do Not Recycle Small Items

Finally, in perhaps one of the more surprising elements on this list, there is a size limitation on what you should be recycling. As a general rule of thumb, if you are trying to recycle something smaller than a post-it note, you are doing so in vain.

Please don’t attempt to toss paper shreddings or other small items that would otherwise fit the recycling criteria into your recycling bin, as it’s too small to be sorted and therefore can’t be recycled.

Recycling isn’t a thoughtless process, and it’s certainly not convenient. That said, it’s important for the environment around us and therefore worth the effort. Make sure you rectify these common recycling mistakes to ensure every pick-up is as successful as possible.


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