What’s the Real Deal With Recycling?

It’s a mantra even schoolchildren know. But how effective are recycling programs really, and what can you do to ensure you’re helping to protect the environment and reduce landfills?

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 Curbside pickups and single-stream recycling have made the reduction of landfill materials pretty darn easy. But that doesn’t mean you no longer have to think about what and how you recycle.

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 Since we started mass-producing plastic in our society, billions of tons of it have been produced — and billions of tons are not recycled. National Geographic estimates that 91% of plastic is not recycled. Plastic takes about 400 years to break down, and it’s predicted that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.

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However, there are steps you can take to reduce your contribution to plastic pollution. Below we’ve listed just a few.

  • Always bring reusable bags when you shop.
  • Don’t buy plastic bottles of water! Reusable containers are the way to go.
  • Refuse a straw when you order a drink at a restaurant, or carry your own reusable straw (many can be ordered with a carrying bag and their own cleaning brushes).

To find your local recycling guidelines, use Google or call 311 to get an up-to-date list of recyclables accepted in your town and find the location of drop-off recycle centers. For unusual or more complicated questions, visit Earth 911 and enter what you’re trying to recycle and your zip code to find specialty recycling centers near you.

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