Single Stream Recycling: Making It Easier to Be Green

If it hasn’t already arrived, single stream recycling will be coming to a curb-side near you. The rate of residential materials being recycled has stagnated since curbside recycling began in full force in the 1990’s. This is not to say that your town’s recycling program may not be doing well. It just means that we can all be doing better. But with recycling rates hardly growing in the last few years, how can we do this?

Well, introducing single stream recycling to save the day! OK, so that’s great; but what is it? Single stream recycling is an attempt to make recycling collection as simple as possible for residence, so as to encourage everyone to recycle as many materials as possible. This is done by replacing your current collection bin or bins with a single large cart that will hold an entire week’s worth of recyclables including corrugated cardboard and magazines. Gone are the days of sorting different recyclables into different buckets, or even mixing your recyclable containers into one bin while stacking corrugated cardboard and magazines on the side.

As the name implies, single stream recycling will let you add recyclables to your new cart as you produce them, or in a single stream, just like the regular trash. Read a newspaper, throw it in the cart; have a can of soup, throw it in the cart; sort out your junk mail and throw it in the cart. No need for extra bundling, or extra piles; which means less clutter in your home or garage. Making recycling easier means more participation and more participation means that more materials get recycled.

With the extra space in your new cart, make sure you are taking advantage of all the materials that can be recycled in your area. Call your town or trash hauler to get the latest list of acceptable recyclables. There is a good chance that new materials may have been added since you last checked. Now that recycling is so easy and you have plenty of room in your recycling cart, there is no excuse for not recycling all the materials that you can.

Here is a list of materials that most towns are now accepting in their recycling program. If your town does not accept some of these, call them and ask why. There are markets available for all of these materials, so there is no excuse for these to be left out of your local collection.

Glass containers Metal containers Aluminum foil and containers #1 – #7 plastic containers Milk cartons Juice boxes Junk mail Corrugated cardboard Paperboard Newspapers Magazines and catalogs

Remember that it is still important to keep trash and non-recyclables out of your recycling cart. While your trash is simply disposed of in a landfill or incinerator, your recyclables are marketable products that become the raw material to make new products. With your help, that plastic bottle may become a fleece sweater that keeps you warm; or that newspaper may become sheet rock for your next construction project, or that metal container may be used in your child’s next bicycle. What you throw in the trash today is gone, but what you recycle today may come back to you as new. Respect it for the resource that it is!