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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Recycling Made Easy -- Important Tips To Keep Your Recycle Bin Free of Unwanted Material...

...and How To Become A "Zero Hero"!

Photo by VanveenJF on Unsplash

By Moira Grainger
Content courtesy of Indian Hill’s Public Works Department and The Kroger Co.

How committed are you to household recycling?  Most eco-conscious homeowners make an honest attempt at using those blue bins provided by the Village, but it’s often hard to determine what is acceptable.  Even with using those triangular symbols that indicate a material can be repurposed, waste and recycling standards can vary greatly from one community to another.

Here are some great tips to follow this year in getting yourself on the path to becoming a “Zero Hero!”

The Village of Indian Hill’s Public Works Department shares some obvious and not-so-obvious guidelines:

Yes, you can recycle the caps on your plastic bottles. Crush the bottle, screw the cap back on and drop it in your bin or cart.
Glass jars should be recycled this way: remove the metal lid and place it separately in the bin or cart with the jar.
Food waste is NOT recyclable and should be placed in a separate trash container. (Sometimes, the obvious has to be stated.)  Blue totes are for recycling, green ones are for trash.
Clear paper recycling choices are newspapers, magazines and junk mail.  Don’t forget that paper towel and toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes and other dry food boxes can be recycled as well. I add outer envelopes from first-class mail as well – it does add up!
Plastic containers are a bit trickier: NO to yogurt cups, plastic tubs, clam shell (salad/fruit) containers and plastic trays.  These items are not accepted in local curbside recycling programs.  This also includes Styrofoam, even if it bears the recycle symbol.  YES to bottles, jugs, plastic water and soda bottles, ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, etc. If it isn’t a bottle or jug, it can’t be recycled by the IH Public Works team.
Bathroom items that can be recycled but are often overlooked are soap and tooth paste boxes, tissue boxes, empty shampoo bottles or hairspray bottles.
DO NOT place recyclables in plastic bags.  Plastic bags cannot be recycled by the curbside pick-up and are a major disruption to the machinery that sorts the material at the recycle center.  Materials should be left loose in recycling bins or totes.
Recyclable papers can be placed in paper bags from the grocery store. These are handy if you choose to recycle small pieces of paper such as those outer envelopes and smaller pieces of mail.

If you are truly conscientious about your recycling, the above guidelines might seem a bit limiting and discouraging.  I personally stress a good deal over buying my fresh fruits and vegetables in pre-packaged containers that cannot be re-used.  If this sounds like you, look for opportunities to buy those items in cardboard containers that CAN go in the recycle bin.

But wait, there’s MORE you can do!

Calling it the “Zero Hero” program, The Kroger Co. will cheerfully accept any of the following items for recycling.  They can be left in the front of any area Kroger in the front lobby by the shopping carts.  Items you can recycle are: bubble wrap, plastic overwrap around paper towels and toilet paper, cereal box liners and bread bags, as well as dry cleaning bags, produce bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic shipping envelopes, clean sandwich bags – these are many things that just a few years ago, would have gone straight to the landfill.  This list also includes disposable Kroger shopping bags.

How does the Kroger Co. handle these materials?  Once these items are dropped off (hopefully, by YOU), it is collected and combined with other plastic packaging that is used in-store.  Everything is sent off to be made into composite decking.  Over the past three years, this Kroger program has recycled more than 180 million pounds of plastic.  That’s a lot of decking!

How to get started?  Try adding an additional, separate recycling bin for plastic packaging in your trash storage area (I found an old kitchen trash can that works perfectly.) You will be surprised at how quickly it can fill up (Think of all those Amazon Prime plastic shipping envelopes you got in December that missed out on having a new life as a deck!)  When the bin is full, take it to your local grocery store on your next shopping trip and place it in the drop-off bins. It’s that easy.

The Kroger Co. salutes those of us who go want to go that extra mile as “Zero Heroes,” ordinary folks who step up for change when it comes to reducing waste.  Even small changes that require small additional effort can reap BIG results.

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