The U.S. is the number-one trash-producing country in the world, at 1,643 pounds per person per year. In 2008, only a third was recycled, reports the EPA, though experts say more can be done. Here are some quick tips.
1. Do: Recycle paper with staples, clips, or spirals intact — the metal will be filtered out by machines later. Don’t: Include any paper with food stains (think pizza boxes), as they can contaminate a load.
2. Don’t: Forget to remove bottle caps. They’re made of a different type of plastic and can mess up a whole batch. Do: Return plastic bags to stores. Find a local spot at plasticbagrecycling.org.
FOR GLASS & METAL
3. Do: Rinse out bottles, jars, and cans; throw away (or recycle) caps. Don’t: Worry about labels — they’ll burn off at the plant. Do: Include washed pie tins and foil, metal bottle caps, wire coat hangers, scrap metal.
4. Don’t: Make the town dump your first stop. One person’s trash is another’s treasure — so when you want to ditch an old item, first try freecycle.org, Craigslist, or a thrift store that does pickups.