Reduce, Reuse, Recycle –seems simple enough but when it comes to figuring out what goes in the trash and what goes in the recycling bin, it can get a little confusing. Many times you could find yourself about to throw something in a bin, whether at home or out in public, scratching your head wondering “is this recyclable?” Here’s a quick list of recycling do’s and don’ts to help take away the confusion.


  • Be sure to flatten cardboard as much as possible. Flattened cardboard = less air = fewer pickups and lower costs!
  • Rinse all containers until they’re spotless— like plastic juice/milk jugs, yogurt containers, sour cream containers, etc.
  • Throw out the small lids on plastic bottles – some municipalities accept these lids so be sure to check beforehand.
  • Recycle plastics numbered one, two, four, or five – these are the most commonly accepted plastics (bottles, tubs and jugs are usually made with these types of plastic)
  • Keep the lid of metal cans attached, folding them inside the can to cover the sharp edge left from the can opener.
  • Check if there are local options for recycling other types of glass, plastic or other materials that aren’t commonly recycled, but could be in your area. Every place is different.
  • Recycle aluminum foil, trays and pie plates – foil is easy to wipe clean, you can reuse it as much as possible, when it’s time to go in the bin be sure to clean it!
  • Each place is different so be sure to check if there are local options for recycling other types of glass, plastic or other materials that aren’t commonly recycled but could be in your area.


  • Throw plastic shopping bags in with the recycling – plastic bags can always be reused and there are other options like reusable cloth bags.
  • Toss every plastic container in the recycling bin. A lot of places DO NOT accept plastics numbered three, six, and seven, but be sure to double check as some municipalities accept all types of plastic.
  • Fling milk cartons (including soy, almond and rice milk cartons) in your bin. There are separate programs for collecting cartons in some places – always check to see (notice a theme here?). Be sure they’re thoroughly cleaned as well!
  • Put used pizza boxes in the recycling bin. Yes they are recyclable, but once a pizza is put in the box it contaminates the cardboard with grease, cheese, and other toppings (it’s ok pizza we forgive you). Now this becomes an issue because unlike glass and plastic, which use heat in their recycling process, cardboard is mixed with water creating a thick slur. Now we all know that grease and water do not mix, so you can imagine how this would hinder the recycling process.
  • Throw out your glass. If you’re creative or know someone who is there are cool reuse projects where you can repurpose the glass into something awesome!

In an ideal world, only trash would end up in the garbage bag and recyclable material in the recycling bin. One places trash can be another’s recycling –unfortunately you could end up throwing garbage in with the recycling. Even if just one article isn’t accepted, it means the garbage dump for the rest of the recycling.

Talk about one rotten apple spoiling the whole bunch!

Usually your city or municipality recycling program is a quick online search away, saving you from wasting your recycling efforts.