We’ve all seen the trend in being a more earth-conscious consumer; from bringing your own reusable shopping bags to skipping the plastic straw with your drink at restaurants. At the end of the day, most of these trends are all about keeping stuff out of the local landfills. To help you get the most out of your blue bin, contact your local recycling management. While most tend to follow the same rules, the more you know, the more you can safely throw in the bin!

Recycling can be a great alternative to the landfill, but if you are throwing the wrong items into your blue bin it could do more harm than good. Things like plastic straws, plastic shopping bags, oily pizza boxes, or soggy paper can gum up the machines at the recycling plant and shut the entire process down until the machine can be cleared up.

Not only does recycling save things from spending a lifetime (or a few) in a landfill, it also saves energy! For most products, it is considerably more energy efficient to make it out of recycled materials than from raw materials. For example, the amount of energy saved from making one aluminum can out of recycled instead of raw materials can power a television for two to three hours.

City of Phoenix residents can find helpful information at Phoenix.gov/PublicWorks/Residential-Recycling and City of Tucson residents can visit DoMoreBlue.com for helpful tips and a complete list of what you can recycle. Otherwise contact your local recycling management company for their best practices.

Bottles, plastics containers (plastic types 1-7), glass containers, metal cans, cardboard, paper, junk mail, notebooks, and magazines can all be recycled. Just be sure that they are clean and dry. Leftover food gunk adds up to a mess in the machinery. Be sure to skip dirty or damp items, shredded paper, bubble wrap, Styrofoam, and plastic bags.

You can also recycle lids to containers if you put the lids back on the container. According to the city of Tucson, anything smaller than a tennis ball can fall through the machinery and cause trouble. So put the lids on bottles or throw them out. Also due to their size, prescription bottles and plastic coffee pods can’t be recycled.

Some things should just skip the blue bin all together. While you can recycle glass containers, glass bowls like crystal or Pyrex are a different story. Those are best donated if unbroken. Batteries, electronics, and light bulbs can all be recycled, just not in the blue bin. Plastic bags can be recycled at local stores or donated to local pet shelter to help clean up after dogs on their walks.

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