“I don’t recycle,” he said frankly.

Inquiring minds wanted to know, so I asked why that was the case.

“Because, I am not sure what goes in the blue container and the yellow container.”

Quite an odd reason not to recycle, but OK – I will respect the honesty.   Others have their reasons for not recycling, and you may have yours too.

“What difference does it make?”  I hear many times.

Another one is, “They sort it all out anyway.”

Whether or not to recycle is a choice.  It is a choice between throwing something away after using it once or having that particular item used again, often in different ways.    If those items do not get reused, they go into the landfill.  It is not sorted later, and while it may seem like the extra effort to recycle, it really can be pretty easy to do once you get into the habit of doing it.

For myself, I just throw the recyclable items into one of the two bins (blue or yellow).  It does not matter, which one, because on the night before pick-up I simply sort it out then, which takes no time at all to do.  Again, it’s a matter of simply starting to get into the habit of not throwing everything into the trash.

What is great to see is how many children take it upon themselves to start recycling.  Children at a very young age can, and do, recycle.

On the professional side, more and more businesses see the advantages of recycling not merely from how it positively affects the environment but how it also affects them directly.  It is profitable for businesses to recycle.

The question I most often hear though is what is supposed to go in what bin if I do recycle?  Likewise, what is not supposed to go in the recycling bins?

First of all, no plastic bags should be placed in your recycle bins.   There are other places for plastic bags to be recycled, such as your local grocery store normally has places to recycle plastic bags.  Be careful about food waste going into the bins, as it can contaminate the marketability of the items Solid Waste Authority collects.

Now that we have got out of the way what not to put in to the recycle bins, let’s start with the yellow bins for starters.   Think paper products.    The yellow bin is for your newspaper and catalogs as well as that big yellow phone book.   Please also break down your corrugated cardboard and keep it to less than 3’ x 3’.   Also, the paper plastic bag that you get at the grocery store can also go in the yellow bin.

Ok, for the blue bin this for the containers, bottles and jars.   These include plastic containers #1-7.  Items like glass bottles and jars, milk and juice cartons. Also, tissue boxes are OK to include in the yellow bin.

Everything is pretty much self explanatory except for the #1-7 plastic containers.  What are those?  Well, The Society of Plastic Industry (SPI) put together a number system that can be found at the bottom of post-consumer plastics.  Just look under your water bottle (and you’ll probably see a “1” in a triangle) or look under another plastic bottle for an example. Each number identifies resin content in the containers and identifiable by the number representing the plastic type and product.

It’s that easy.   With the road side pick up, it is convenient to recycle.  Start by making a conscious effort to simply not throw everything into the garbage, but rather take a moment to put the appropriate items into the appropriate bins.   Every little bit does make a difference.

And, if you already make it a habit of recycling, then what you are doing is making a difference.


Bryan Hayes is an actor, amateur photographer, business consultant and full-time lover of all things living.