Zero Waste Tip: Know Your Recycling

Zero Waste Chicago sustainability tip: Know what you're allowed tor recycle near you

If we're not sure if something is recyclable or not, it can be tempting to just add it to the recycling bin anyway. We've definitely been guilty of what our pals at Recycle by City call "wishcycling" - putting something in the recycling bin out of pure wishful thinking.

In Chicago and elsewhere, though, this tactic does more harm than good. It can jam recycling machines, cause loads to be tossed due to too much contamination, and makes the recycling process more cumbersome and expensive: not exactly what we're going for.

So, this month, we hope you'll take ten minutes to refresh your knowledge of what you can and can't put in your recycling bin. If you live in the Chicago area, Recycle by City offers helpful, easy-to-use resources that can get you up to speed in ten minutes or less. Start with their Recycling Quiz (we learned a lot from this!), and then check out their Chicago-specific recycling guide.

If you don't live in the Chicago area, Recycle by City also offers education in parts of Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Or, you can visit the website of the company or municipality responsible for collecting your recycling. We also find that sometimes a simple Google search - "recycling guidelines in X city" - can work wonders.

So, pump bottle tops, disposable cups, paper napkins, and more: you're banished from our recycling carts until further notice. In the meantime, we'll be trying to avoid you completely by bringing our own coffee mugs, water bottles, and cloth napkins with us instead.

We gathered the trash pictured above on a recent beach walk. It represents a few of the things that aren't recyclable in Chicago: bottle caps with pumps or nozzles, straws, and plastic bags.  If you'd like to clean up a Chicago-area beach, we hope you'll join us for our meet-up on August 15th.

CeliaZero Waste Tip