Week 1 – Reduce Waste May 2021 Challenge: What Is Actually Recyclable?

Since my May challenge is my “reduce our waste,” I thought it would be important to address our recycling. I mentioned in my first article for this challenge that we recycle as much as possible because it’s FREE. We pay for garbage pickup by the bag. I need to confuse something to you, my dear reader. I think we put things in the recycling bin that aren’t recyclable. I am currently sitting at my desk feeling bad about that fact. According to my town’s website, we can only recycle the following items.

  • Plastic with number 1 or 2 recyclable symbols
  • CLEAN green, brown or clear glass jars
  • CLEAN bottles, tin, and aluminum cans
  • Newspapers tied or in a container
  • Cardboard must be flattened & tied or in a container

As I have learned in reading Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton, “It is so easy to spend time caught up in the past, lost in nostalgia, heavy with regret, chastising yourself for not having made different choices or blaming someone else.  Back then, you didn’t know all you know now.  You didn’t have the same resources, environment, or responsibilities.  … But here’s the thing: the past is no longer here.  Whatever happened, the good and the bad, it is gone.”  I know there is eco shaming out there along with every other form of shaming. 

I know without a doubt that we have tosses not so perfectly cleaned plastic yogurt containers into the recycling bin for pick up.  Well, we can make a change today.  I can’t go back and find all of those past yogurt containers, bring them home, clean them, and return them to the recycling center.  There is no sense in dwelling in the past. 

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What’s my plan going forward?  Mr. BMM, I love him, but this change will likely take time for him to accept our new normal for recycling.  Since this is my challenge and really my passion that he lovingly supports, I’m going to clean the plastic yogurt containers and check the little plastic recyclable numbers on the bottom of the orange juice containers.  I’m the Chief Supply Chain officer and I’m making the executive decision on what food and supplies come into our home.  Mr. BMM has outsourced the responsibility of picking up orange juice to me.  He does not care which brand or packaging it comes with.  He simply wants orange juice.  Just like I don’t care how the grass gets cut or if Mr. BMM makes patterns in the grass or not, this is my thing.  I leave the grass cutting to Mr. BMM.  It’s cool. 

For this upcoming week, I’m going to do a food/grocery shopping inventory on what is actually recyclable vs. what really is not recyclable.  For the items that I thought were recyclable, I will focus on sourcing alternative next week.  Baby steps for this challenge.  Baby steps.  This is one challenge that could very easily overwhelm me.  Giving up sugar was a cake walk compared to reducing our waste (pun was totally intended).

Check back next week to hear how my food/grocery shopping inventory went.  Below is an inventory of items that we typically recycle. 

ItemDid I Previously Recycle It?Is it Actually Recyclable?
Plastic Yogurt ContainerYes 
Orange Juice ContainerYes 
Baby Spinach ContainerYes 
Butter BoxYes 
Rice BoxYes 
Plastic Bag Packaging (Various Items)No 
Toilet Paper RollYes 
Plastic Dish BrushYes 
Glass Cranberry Juice ContainerYes 
Plastic Clasp to Potato BagYes 

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5 thoughts on “Week 1 – Reduce Waste May 2021 Challenge: What Is Actually Recyclable?

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