Recycling and Reuseables

Where to recycle plastic bags:

Many grocery and retail stores accept plastic bags for recycling! Keep them clean and dry, and collect them for their new destiny as something better than a trash or doggie bag. Most frequently, your plastic bags are turned into things like long-lasting composite decking and lawn furniture!

Preferably, learn what company they use for recycling if possible. This way you can research the company and make sure they are legitimate.

This is one of many styles of bag recycle to look for at your favorite store

It might take more than one question to get this answer, and I recommend talking to a supervisor or manager at least, one in the specific area. Often though, the recycling company’s name will be obvious on the side of the collection bin, and you can look them up from there.

How to collect plastic bags for recycle:

Always: clean and dry bags only. This is absolute rule #1. A container with a small opening instead of a large one is a best bet for storing your bags, while you get enough to take to the recycle. But not too small of a hole- you’ll want to get the bags back out!

Stuff lots and lots of bags in your container in until it’s about to burst, and then take it to the grocery store and recycle! Call your stores to find out who will accept your bags for recycling.

Tissue boxes work great for collecting bags. Keep stuffing!

Open the next question box below to see what else you can recycle with your plastic grocery bags!

You can recycle SO much more than shopping bags:

You also can and should include all plastic product wrap (like that around cases of bottled water for example– no bottled water tho, m’kay?)

All of these similar plastic “plastic films” can be recycled with your bag recycle:

Newspaper and dry cleaning bags, produce and bulk bags, bread bags, zipper close storage bags, and all plastic film or tape that is labeled #2 or #4.

Colored newspaper bags are okay, too!

More meanies to be sure to get in the “plastic films” recycling bin:

*The plastic wrap that diapers, paper towels, and toilet paper, etc come in, electronics and furniture bags/wrap (not stretchy), plus cereal bags from inside boxes!

*You know how packages these days are shipped with those funny little air pillows with a recycle symbol on them? Those absolutely go with your plastic bag recycle! That’s why they made them like that!

Pop the pillows, squeeze the air out, and crumple them up- now stuff them in with your bags for drop off! For a good time, I suggest popping the pillows with a pen, or squeezing and squeezing until it finally pops! Be careful- don’t hurt yourself or the furniture!

*Some plastic film recycling companies also accept plastic shipping envelopes such as bubble wrap and Tyvek envelopes. Ask the store you take yours to before you include these.

What not to put in with your bag recycle:

Do not put any type of bubble wrap in with your bags unless you are very specifically told that it is ok.

Some counties actually do offer plastic bag recycling at the curb! Check earth911 For that info.

Do not include:

freezer bags or stretchy plastic wrap like Saran wrap.

AND DO NOT PUT BAGS IN WITH YOUR REGULAR RECYCLE.

You can TOTALLY ditch disposable produce bags for good!

Buy some or upcycle:

You can buy reusable produce bags that are breathable, or you can reuse pillow cases for a similar effect! I have enjoyed using reusable shopping bags made 100% out of plastic water bottles for this purpose, although they might not be food rated. Do not use thick canvas. It will mold if you’re not careful.

Reusable mesh produce bag holding concord grapes

Make your own or re use trash:

Crafty types like to make their own reusable produce bags out of upcycled scraps of material. In a pinch, if you already have some, wash and reuse your plastic produce bags over many times and then recycle them.

If you buy pre-washed salad greens in large tubs, save those containers/lids, and store your veggies in them in the fridge if they fit! They keep really well. You can either take them to the store with you, or just skip the bags altogether at the store and put your produce in the bins when you get home.

Upgrade to a fridge system:

You can also purchase very large, lidded, glass storage/oven ware for this purpose. Yep- lid on, or mostly cover. Depending on what veggie you store, you might want a vent.

Plastic storage ware is also a fridge option, but I go for glass every time for 2 reasons:

1) Glass is guaranteed not to leach chemicals into my food. Of course the lids are often still plastic, but it’s much less exposure. You can definitely buy ones with glass lids as well.

2) I avoid purchasing new plastic in every case possible because it is an oil product. Using as few oil-dependent products as possible will help save the Earth and Humanity. Look for items made out of 100% recycled plastic.

With a fridge system you can actually skip bagging altogether. Just get the produce home to your bins. Many vegetables do just fine in the proper bin in the fridge without a bag at all, or covered but some material.

You can learn to remember your bags and bulk containers, too!

I like submersion therapy for this. If you forget your bags, You carry all of your stuff to the car in your cart. When you get home, you go get your bags and bag your stuff and bring it in. It works pretty well!

If your bags are in the car you can also make yourself go to the car before checking out and grab your bags. It’s just a learning curve. You’re not a bad person! Just go through the motions and make it happen.

No punishment. It’s just what happens! Remember the sea creatures and all the others that you are saving . Remember how ridiculous it would be for you to get a bag right now, to use just once. It doesn’t make sense. You will learn to remember your bags in no time. 😉

Where to store your bags to remember them:

To get the bags into the car, I suggest having place right near the door that is dedicated for bags. If you need them to be obvious, make them obvious. Hang them on a hook where you can see them as you walk out.

If you don’t need them obvious, it’s nice to keep them in a drawer or stuff them somewhere out of sight but still right by the door. Oftentimes I will remember as I’m leaving the house, but I wouldn’t not want to walk back into the kitchen or somewhere to grab the bags… this takes care of that problem!

You can take your bags to the car anytime, even if you are not about to go grocery shopping! If it crosses your mind and you’re leaving the house, grab the shopping bags and throw them in the car!

Even better, you could just put it on the list of things you do as you leave the house/car like locking the door- ask yourself if you need to grab some bags every time you’re leaving. You grab your purse and keys, why not add bags right then?

Used bags that get real small are best:

Have lots and lots of bags, so that it takes a long time to run out in the car. You can stuff lots of bags into one zipper duffle style bag to contain them in a small area without them taking over your car.

Do not buy them new if you can avoid it- There are so many kinds of bags that will work just fine that you can get at a thrift store.

If you are getting new bags I suggest the kind that stuff into tiny sacs, made out of recycled water bottles. You can clip these onto your purse and have them all the time! And they are made out of 100% trash to save the Earth with. I love canvas ones the most- specifically because they will compost, or can be used for rags and poultices, etc. when they are no longer useful as bags.

Most towns have scrap metal recyclers or a county facility

For unfixable things that are 50% metal or better, do an internet search for scrap metal recycling near you!

Bigger things like lawn chairs that are plastic are actually usually made of #5 plastic, if they are flexible (not rigid) and seem to be made out of a mould. You should be able to recycle them with other #5 plastics, or else drop them off at your local recycle center, depending on how that works in your area. Give your city recycler a call or check out earth911.com to find out. Most places that recycle plastic accept #5.

Also, contact terracycle.com for a full list of hard to recycle items. They will take almost anything!

Google it! Chrome it! Bing it! Yay!!

If you love it, don’t let it go- get it fixed.

Go to your favorite search engine and enter   “_____ repair in ________” (item you need fixed and your geographic location go in the blanks). Also look into fix it clinics in a town near you.

It can be a pain in the butt. I know. Or it can be as easy as taking your broken item into a shop, then coming back later and picking it up fixed. Just like magic!

Even if it costs the same or a bit more as getting a new one. It is worth it a to stick with what you have if it’s fixable, if your number one goal is sustainability.

It will always be worth it 100 times over to the Earth if you do not mine it for more ingredients and components for your daily life, but instead work with what you already have until it’s unusable. You will always be thanked somehow.

Yes! It is worth switching to reusable- many times over!

Breakin it down:

Most people’s napkin and paper towel use is not even high enough to require an extra load of laundry per week. They just get thrown in with your other wash- unless you have extra icky messes that you have cleaned up, which may require its own load of wash to disinfect.

Even if you do create a whole load extra of wash per week, you will still be saving trees, the water that it took to grow the trees, and then process them into paper.

Then you have to consider the pollution of the processes, starting from cutting down the trees, all the way through getting them to paper state. Next you need to ship the paper all over the world- using energy, jet fuel and in plastic packages most likely. Most people don’t recycle those plastic packages.

The paper industry at large is also ruining the environment with deforestation, and displacing people and animals, which contributes to the extinction of endangered species. Need I go on? 😉

Check out this blog post to learn why  recycling alone is not enough!

How to read- Greener.

Greenest? 

Go to the LIBRARY, silly! Then you don’t even have to store the books. Second best? Buy used books. Then arguably third best, use your existing tablet to download and read e-books.

When you buy a new book, make sure you get a soft cover not a hard back. Hard covered books are not recyclable. Always buy used books- hands down!

What to do with old books when they are useless:

Recycle paperbacks when they are in shreds or obsolete. You can rip or cut the pages out of hardbacks with an exacto knife or bigger craft knife, and recycle the pages also.

At your discretion, you can also donate them if you do a little research on who in your area will do the best for them. Sometimes you can get them soon too needy school districts to help the kids.

Used books already exist for your purchase, and are easily recyclable, assuming they are not hardbacks. Therefore, I considered them the greenest option by far.

But what about e readers?

I’m not saying to never get an e-reader, but there is a lot to consider. You will also want your e-reader or tablet to last more than 10 years, so it might cost you a couple bucks.

Put other “unavailable in the form of used book” material on an e-reader/tablet if needed, and treat with care. Think about using your tablet or reviving a retired tablet instead of getting a separate eReader.

Here’s a handy article on how to do that really easily:

Be really really kind to your e-reader or tablet, and get it repaired instead of replacing it when it starts acting up. Find a brand that has a cleaner track record as far as forced labor violations.

Electronics recycling and the Earth:

One reason electronis readers are not so green it that hey become obsolete so fast!

Electronics have many Earth destroying substances in them. Substances that likely have been mined from the earth in disrespectful, destructive ways, or else will harm the earth when put back as waste.

It’s really sad to know, but e-waste recycling is a very dangerous proposition; you need to research and make sure the company is not not just dumping in random parts of 3rd world countries and letting the locals go through it for cash.

Close! And probably!

You could join the zero waste movement and completely change your purchasing habits, but you still would have a dresser… and a lamp… and the chair… and a kitchen full of kitchenware. What else?

What about your shoes? Your clothes? What do you do with them when they aren’t good for anybody anymore? Landfill?

Well, it turns out you can actually recycle just about everything if you go to the right place.

Paid to Order:

Guess what? For an investment, you can recycle pretty much everything in your house, with a few exceptions.

Contact terracycle.com for all the info. They have tons of options, from single specific items you can recycle in small and medium boxes, to huge dump boxes that you can put almost anything in. Once you fill the box they send you, you just send it away to them for sorting and recycling.

Recycling varies so greatly, even from county to county!

General recycling:

There’s a website that specializes in telling you that! Earth911.org is your best friend here.  If you go there, you will see an area where you can search for that exact question.

Harder to recycle items:

When you have questions about recycling anything very specific in your area like scrap metal, plastic bags, and styrofoam, earth911.org or an internet search for how to recycle that item in your area will help you out. Sometimes it takes a little investigative digging.

FREE hard to recycle service:

When you want to recycle items that are not recyclable in your area, contact terracycle.com. You will be astonished at the amount of items you can recycle for free,through terracycle, if you cannot recycle them in your area.

Examples of things you can recycle through terracycle for free are chip bags, applesauce and drink pouches, Larabar, Clif bar and other energy bar/gel packaging, and tons more. They have many, many more paid programs as well, for even harder to recycle items. Check them out for sure!

Amazing news!

If you eat a lot of chips or bars, you can recycle the packaging after all.  You need to gather two pounds of the wrappers.

2 POUNDS of chip bags is a lot or chip bags!

Rinse and dry your wrappers or chip bags. Fold bags in half, not more, and place them in an organized fashion in the biggest chip bag you have until it is unstuffable. A closeable container will be good for the unruly wrappers.

That potato chip bag full of bags might be close to a pound. Send them to terracycle.org for free recycling when you have enough! They recycle almost everything. Lots of free and paid recycle programs!

When you go to the site, you will see the  programs they offer. Hundreds of programs. Do a search for the program you’re looking for.

The free recycling programs that you want might be full, but it does not matter! 😀😀 You do not have to participate in the “points programs” (those are what are often full and unavailable) to participate in the recycling part of those same free services. Call them for details.

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