We all know we should be recycling, but most of us don’t totally know whether we are doing so correctly. Recycling is a fairly simple process, which we explained in a recent article, but one that requires a little bit of cooperation between consumers, companies, and recycling plants. In this article, we want to talk about some of the common items people recycle, and whether or not they are actually recyclable.
Non-recyclables included in recycling batches can contaminate materials that are otherwise usable, and mis-sorting your recycling can even lead to your items not being picked up at all. If you want to help to reduce global waste, reduce the number of raw materials being harvested/used, and reduce your impact on the environment, keep reading to find out what you should be recycling.
E-waste refers to electronic waste, like phones, laptops, cables, and other electronic components. When thrown away, electronics can last for centuries in landfills. Toxic chemicals can be leached from the electronics over time, negatively impacting the soil and wildlife that come in contact with them. To avoid tossing your old electronics in the garbage, try recycling them.
Many electronics are recyclable; their parts can be used to build new items or replace broken parts, and the metals they contain can be melted down and reused. In order to properly recycle your electronics, you may need to bring your electronics to a drop-off or designated collection site. Not all curbside pickup recycling companies will accept electronics, as their recycling requires more intensive and expensive processes.
The following electronics CAN be recycled:
- Computer monitors
- Fax machines
- DVD players
- Home phones
- Cell phones
Even though so many consumer electronics can be recycled, not all e-waste is created equal. The following electronics typically CANNOT be recycled:
- Smoke/fire alarms
- Medical equipment
- Any electronic containing sludge or liquid
Glass is a highly recyclable material, and can be used practically infinitely. Glass retains its color and cannot be bleached, and therefore must first be sorted into color batches before being ground and melted for reuse. Don’t worry about sorting your glass by color at home, the recycling plant will do the job for you.
The following glass items CAN be recycled:
- Beer bottles
- Wine bottles
- Glass tupperware
- Lightbulbs (these require special recycling and may not be accepted by all recycling plants)
Though nearly all glass products can be recycled, there are a few specific items that are not accepted by most recycling plants. The following glass items CANNOT be recycled:
- Contaminated glass (glass containing stones, dirt, food waste, etc.)
- Pyrex and heat resistant glass
- Window panes
Metals must be sorted by type before they can be melted down to be used again. Mixed metal products cannot be recycled for this reason, as mixed metals cannot be separated. Many metal products (like cans) are 100% recyclable. If everyone were to recycle, metal products could be reused over and over again, drastically reducing the amount of waste produced in the manufacturing of new, non-recycled metal products.
The following metal items CAN be recycled:
- Aluminum cans
- Aluminum foil
- Single-use aluminum bake/cookware (wipe clean before recycling; food residue will make recycling more difficult or impossible)
- Steel cans
- Tin cans
Paper products are washed, bleached, and shredded to form a slurry in order to create ‘new’ raw materials. Wowe loves to take full advantage of recycled materials, which is why we make all of our packaging from recycled paper.
The following paper items CAN be recycled:
- Office/printer paper
- Paper milk and juice cartons
- Phone books
Even though paper is a highly recyclable material, many paper products contain sneaky plastic coatings that make them non-recyclable and can ruin batches of recyclables. The following paper items CANNOT be recycled:
- Single-use coffee cups
- Single-use water cups
- Food tainted napkins, paper plates, paper towels, etc.
- Shredded paper
Some plastics are recyclable, others aren’t. While many other recyclable materials are fairly universally recyclable, the recyclability of plastic depends on where you live, what kinds of plastics your local recycling plant will accept, and what type of plastic the product is made from. Want to know whether a product is recyclable or not? Check the recycling code on the bottom of the product, and be sure it matches your region.
Though what you CAN recycle will depend on where you live, there are some plastic products that are universally non-recyclable. The following plastic items CANNOT be recycled:
- Plastic bags
- Soft plastic pouches (i.e. for baby food)
- Chip and snack bags
- Un-rinsed shampoo/haircare bottles
- Plastic toys
Buy Recyclable from the Start
Rather than worrying about whether or not the products you are buying are recyclable, try buying items that are recyclable right from the start. There are tons of brands that offer items made from recyclable materials, or made from recycled materials, or both, and shopping with them can help you feel a little better about how you spend your money. By buying items that are already recyclable, you can ensure you aren’t putting more toxins into the Earth, and you can feel good about supporting sustainable brands.
As more people begin to become concerned about the environment and begin learning about green practices, more and more companies are beginning to catch on and create sustainable products using sustainable materials. By supporting green brands, you can direct how other consumers spend their money, influence other companies to begin to implement green practices, and do your part to save the planet.
Wowe Lifestyle is a brand founded on the idea that everyday items should be recyclable and eco-friendly as well as useful. Items you use each and every day can have a serious impact on the overall health of Earth and its many inhabitants, and with billions of people using these products daily, more waste is going into landfills than can be sustained. Rather than spending your money on more non-recyclable and eco-aggressive items that will sit in landfills for centuries, try some of these eco-friendly products from Wowe:
Plastic toothbrushes are thrown away at an alarming rate of 1 billion per year, and do not biodegrade and cannot be recycled. Plastic toothbrushes can stay intact in landfills for over 1000 years, slowly disintegrating and becoming toxic microplastics often digested by wildlife.
As an alternative to these highly wasteful but necessary tools, Wowe has created the Eco-Friendly and Natural Bamboo Toothbrush.
Made from recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable bamboo, the Wowe Eco-Friendly and Natural Bamboo Toothbrush is the perfect alternative to traditional plastic toothbrushes. Our toothbrush will give you the same clean you are used to, but without any of the guilt of polluting the Earth. The Wowe bamboo toothbrushes also come in a charcoal-infused version, perfect for keeping your smile looking white naturally without any harmful chemicals.
Most razors are made from mixed hard plastics, a non-recyclable variety of plastic that usually winds up sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years or polluting the ocean. Non-recyclable, expensive, and often not worth the price, traditional plastic razors should be a thing of the past for your bathroom.
For a better shave and a more eco-friendly option, try Wowe’s Classic Eco-Friendly Double Edge Safety Razor with Natural Bamboo Handle. Long-lasting, professional, and super effective, the shave you will get with this razor is worth the purchase on its own. To add to the positives, this razor is made from recycled materials and is fully recyclable should you ever need to dispose of it. Each razor comes with replaceable blades made from recyclable metal, so whenever your blade is getting a little dull all you have to do is change it out for a new one and recycle the old one. The Classic Eco-Friendly Double Edge Safety Razor can last you a lifetime, save you money, and help you reduce your household waste.
Plastic straws may not be something you have put a lot of thought into, but they have made a serious impact on the environment. Plastic straws are too small and light to be recycled, and often fall through sorting and processing machines, contaminating other batches. Their lightness doesn’t just make them a pain to recycle; their minute weight also make them prone to being caught by the wind, often ending up in oceans and bodies of water.
Marine animals eat, become stuck in, or get plastic straws lodged in their bodies, causing serious and often life-threatening injuries. Sea turtles, in particular, have been seriously affected by the rising number of straws and plastic in their home-waters, as they are unable to regurgitate solids, meaning any plastic they eat (including straws) will remain inside them indefinitely.
Rather than reaching for that single-use plastic straw the next time you visit Starbucks, pick up a pack of Wowe Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Metal Straws instead. Metal straws can be reused over and over again without sustaining any wear and tear, and can easily be brought with you on the go so you are never without a straw for your favorite drink. The best part, metal straws can be recycled, so even though you may never need to buy a new straw again for the rest of your life, a damaged metal straw won’t end up polluting the environment.
Are you interested in learning more about how you can do your part to live in a more eco-conscious world? Visit Wowe Lifestyle to check out our blogs, tips for green living, and more eco-friendly products.