How careful are you to recycle everything you should?

Minneapolis officials will study the garbage of randomly selected homes this week to see how much of it should have been recycled. Today’s Question: How careful are you to recycle everything you should?

  • Mary Alice Harvey

    I grew up during the Great Depression. From that and the natural thriftiness of my parents I learned many ways to re-use almost everything. I still use the “good” parts of worn out clothes for quilts and rag rugs, and the not so good parts for cleaning rags. I do work at finding a person who can use what I discard, or list it on freecycle, or send it to the Goodwill. Of course, I carefully recycle all paper, aluminum and recyclable plastic, and better yet avoid getting them! When I no longer had pigs or chickens to deal with food waste, it went in the compost, but now that I live in an apartment it has to go weekly to a friend who makes compost. The most difficult problems are styrofoam, which can not be entirley avoided, and energy efficient bulbs. I have to save them for someone to take respectively to the business that recycles sytrofoam into packing material and to the hazardous waste site.

  • Matt A

    I’m exceedingly careful when it comes to common recyclables – aluminum, steel, paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass, etc.

    My biggest challenge is purchasing products I want when I know they are packaged unsustainably.

  • midas

    I compost anything I can – vegetable scraps, yard waste, newspapers, dryer lint – and recycle probably about 70% of what I could.

    A significant impediment to widespread recycling is that it isn’t easy enough. Yes, I know that isn’t a very good reason to not do the right thing, but the reality is that people are profoundly less likely to do something if it is inconvenient, no matter how “right” that thing is.

    My current recycler takes only type 1 and 2 plastics. 3-7? Well, that’s up to me. I can collect all my yogurt cups & periodically take them to one of the handful of places that takes them, but it’s a lot easier to put them in the trash one at a time. What about aluminum foil? Some take it, some don’t. Old batteries? Well, it’s just the one double-A out of my toothbrush, and I don’t want to have it lying around waiting for me to remember to take it to its own special recycling facility, so it goes in the trash – it’s just one battery, right? What about mixed-type packaging? Boxes of pasta with their plastic windows, cardboard cans of frozen juice with their metal rims… where do those fit? Do I need to deconstruct them on my own?

    Single-sort recycling is a start, but if we want to ensure that 100% of recyclable material is actually recycled, we need a single-sort waste system: Everything – except maybe compostable organics – goes in one bucket, and the company that I pay to deal with it sorts it out, separating metal from paper from plastic from electronics from unrecyclable trash.

  • Steve

    I recycle everything I can – paper, cans, bottles, plastics. I do compost as well and use the ‘black gold’ on my lawn and in flower beds. There is simply no excuse to toss out goods that can be recycled.

  • Brandon Turner

    Recycling for my wife and I starts by buying less, purchasing fresh produce and raw baking goods, and looking for cardboard or glass packaging–we find ourselves throwing out trash only once each month this way, while our recycling bins overflow with only a twice-monthly pick-up.

    While living in St. Paul with single-sort recycling, we recycled everything and it was quite easy. Since moving to Minneapolis, our habits have not changed, but recycling now takes us four addition bins and 30 more minutes each week to meet the rules and restrictions. When looking to the trash policies of foreign countries with quantity restrictions, it is clear that governmental policy-making is necessary to reduce refuse and improve recycling. With robust trash policies in place, packaging and business innovation will follow.

  • Julie

    We reuse, recycle or compost everything that we reasonably can.

  • Joanna

    First we have tried to Reduce (we no longer buy canned and bottled drinks when possible, avoid purchasing items with excessive packaging, prepare as much food at home as possible, etc)

    We Reuse/Donate where possible: almost all clothes from consignment or second-hand stores. Nothing usable ever goes into the trash, always donated.

    Recycle: all types of paper, cardboard, glass, cans, plastic when possible.

    Compost: all except meat scraps and bones, few of those.

    Hazardous wastes (batteries, compact flourescent bulbs, electronics, etc) at free county drop-off center

    Use a kittylitter made of wheat.

    Still an issue: some plastic and styrofoam packaging is hard to avoid.

  • Philip

    Pretty darn careful. It always amazes me how much more full the recycling bin gets vs. the garbage can. Since I live in Brooklyn Park it’s easy to recycle, with the large roll bin that you can just throw items in (no sorting) and what I don’t understand is why it isn’t mandated. I look at some of my neighbor’s garbage cans, which overflow with garbage getting all over the street and wonder if they really are that lazy or just plain stupid.

  • Margaret

    I sort and recycle newspaper, paper, magazines, plastic, glass and cans. I bring plastic lids to church where they go to AVIDA for recycling. I s/b composing potato peelings, food waste. Last year I just buried it throughout my garden but have been told this is not the way to compost. Can I do it this way? What’s the harm?

    In the City of Minneapolis, I am confused about this:

    PAPER: Envelopes are ok now and yellow stickies. What about glossy paper?

    NEWSPAPER: Everything can go into recycling now. Even glossy advertising?

    PLASTIC: Remove lids, pumps, paper, no hazardous waste containers (such as oil, paint stripper). Plastic containers must be in the shape of a bottle (have somewhat of a neck). Is this still correct? Shampoo containers are ok. I’m tossing yogurt, butter containers and thin plastic bakery containers.

    I tend to go by 10-year old rules. What should we be doing better?

  • Chris

    I think there are 4 major blocks to recycling.

    1. Myself included, we are lazy. It is easier to just throw it in the trash then separate it out or take it someplace that will accept it. Our other alternative is to put it in the closet or the warehouse until there is no more room.

    2. Cost. Business receive a tax break for recycling their electronics and other items but the general public has no easy or cheap way to get rid of that TV or computer. Maybe the public should get a tax break or incentive like we do when we donate cloths.

    3. Access. I compost at home, but my compost area gets full or I just don’t want to hike out to the pile because it is cold and rainy. I also am concerned about attracting animals. Apartment dwellers or those with small yards may not be able to compost. I am lucky Brooklyn Center will give me as many recycling bins I want for no charge, not all cities do. Recycling my bulbs is the biggest pain, first they can break and I really don’t want that in my car, and it is hard to find a place to take them. Recycling our home bulbs is a big issue!

    4. Lack of education. Do most people know what they are really throwing in the trash and the consequences of? It is hard to keep track of 1, 2, 3 ect. plastics which one can you recycle again? Packaging is hard to deal with, yes I would love to recycle that pizza box but it has food on it. Did you know companies in the US who recycle and then reuse plastic bottles have to import used plastic bottles from outside the US because we as Americans only recycle 1/3 of the bottles we use, the rest end up in landfills.

    I try to do my part. I compost. I reuse as much as I can. I take my cans in for aluminum. I think about packaging when I buy products. I bring my batteries to the library when I go. When I am out and about if there is not an option to recycle I bring it home with me. I try to educate those around me about recycling. I also bring a bag with me when I walk so I can pick up bottles and what not. I work for an electronic recycling company.

  • Jessica

    I recycle everything I can. I save plastic bags and drop them off at the grocery store. I use the smallest garbage can, and have extra recycling bins. I compost some…problem is I don’t have enough brown matter (ie leaves and stuff) to do more properly. I’d love if there was curbside pick up, especially for those who do not have lawns or association rules that prohibit composting. I wish there were more places for yogurt cups and stuff for drop off, or that the regular recyclers would just accept that stuff!

  • Kevin VC

    I am extremely.

    Personally the recycling bins we have for trash is not looked to enough. Paper/plastic/can are all thrown into ONE can…. it should be more then that.

    Also I was at the UofMn when the maintenance team was caught just DUMPING the recycling into the trash after everyone had made sure the recycling program was kicked off. Apparently it was EASIER for them was the only reason.

    Everyone was pissed, they take the time to do it and then some MORON just merged it back into the trash.

    And considering the damage BP has done to the world, we are even FURTHER behind! That oil did not just magically vanish like BP is trying to say. Real scientist are getting into that area and they see the Sludge has just dropped to the lower areas of the ocean like a looming monster. We have little documentation of the life that exists there. But we have started to learn it is alive…

    And even if that were not a factor, it will eventually MOVE. The toxic byproducts will just start spreading out….

  • Sarah

    I recycle everything that the City of Minneapolis picks up, I take plastic bags to the grocery store to recycle, and I cannot wait for Minneapolis to roll out city-wide composting! I do not trust public recycling so I carry my bottles/cans/etc home with me. I am consistently shocked at how few people recycle and think of them as selfish. However, our nation needs to implement some packaging standards so I don’t have to throw away 3 layers of plastic to eat a piece of cheese!

  • Krista

    My family usually produces as much compost and recycling each week as we do garbage. I find both to be extremely easy to do. I have to give my husband the credit for composting, though, since he is the one who takes the compost bucket out the pile each day.

  • Betsy

    We are fanatic about recycling in our family, and we are lucky to live in an area where our garbage hauler does organics recycling. We have hardly any “trash” at all. It’s so easy!

    We bring our un-recyclables to the Eastside Co-op in northeast Minneapolis. This includes all 1s and 2s that can’t be put in your regular recycling, plus 3-7. I wish that this program would expand to all communities.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Don’t people realize that recycling is bad for the economy??? Waste creates jobs! Think of all the aluminum and silica miners who will be out of work if we recycle all our cans and bottles! Think of the lumberjacks whose livelihoods depend on all that paper you throw away! We should all do our part for America and waste as much as we can!

  • Linda

    After recycling for 20 years we pretty much have it down to a science. We usually discard 1 small bag a week. Everything else is composted or recycled which we often have to use energy to haul. I think recycling should be picked up weekly and you should pay a premium for bags designated for garbage. I bet that would encourage more recycling.


  • moe flaherty

    We eliminated our waste baskets in our home offices and just have an “in box” for recycling. We compost and usually have a one to four ratio, trash to recycling.

  • Momkat

    We recycle everything we can and have cut our garbage to very little. Our biggest piece of waste is used cat litter. Wish someone had an answer for that.

  • DNA

    Completely, including composting.