Wednesday, 6 February 2013

"What? You can recycle that?"

No word of a lie, this is what came out of my friend's mouth one day when I tossed a milk carton into the recycle bin. It made me stop and think. I know my green stuff, and I know it well. So, of course, as I'm going about my day-to-day business, it never usually occurs to me how that's actually pretty unusual. I mean, unless you're a total hippie, how likely is it that you're paying all that much attention to what percentage of your personal waste ends up in a landfill?

But I'm glad she said it. It made me realize that I actually have something to give in that area. I know my recyclables, I know how to compost, and I can take the 90% waste challenge and win it. So here I'm going to list some things that, in my experience, many people don't know can be recycled. If you're one of them, don't feel embarrassed. Instead, try to feel happy that now you can make an even bigger difference in terms of your ecological footprint!

Sugar, flour and baking mix bags
You know the bags you get your flour, muffin mixes and sugar in? Yeah, those are paper. Recycle them!

Juice boxes
Even though they're a mixture of paper, plastic and metal, those tetra-pack containers can go right into your blue (plastic/glass/metal recycling) bin, at least here in Ottawa.

Toilet paper rolls
You wouldn't believe the battle I have with the boys over this one. I mean, the bathroom garbage is so much more handy than the downstairs recycle bin, right? But in a household of 4, we go through quite a few rolls, and so the impact adds up pretty quickly.

Plastic bags
Did you know that you can bring back your plastic grocery bags to Loblaws? Even if there isn't a Loblaws handy, lots of places have a bag recycling program. Especially look for the bags that have the number 2 and 4 symbols; they're the most widely accepted. Most produce bags even fit into this category.

They're good, old-fashioned metal, folks! Toss them in your metal recycling bin!

Plastic cups
Most plastic cups, if you look on the bottom, have a recycling symbol on them, whether they're disposable cups or Ikea cups that have developed cracks. Definitely rinse them out first, and then toss them in your plastic recycling bin!

Mini plastic tubs
You know those ones that they give you with pizza dip, salad dressing or whatever else in them when you order take-out? Always turn them over and check for a recycling symbol on the bottom. They usually have one.

Foil candy wrappers
It's just aluminum, guys! (Very much like a pop can, actually.) When you finish your foil-wrapped chocolate Santa (Fair Trade, I hope!), make sure the foil goes in the metal recycling bin.

What did you think they printed receipts on, papyrus? (Even if they did, that's plant-based, too!) Make sure you hang onto your receipts and recycle them. Try sealing them in an envelope or tucking them under some newspapers in your bin if you're like my roommate, Lukas, who hates having to chase them down the street when they fly away on a windy day!

Single-serving anything
Whether it's jelly, pudding or yogurt, always check the bottom of the cup. All yogurt containers (to my knowledge) are recyclable, and now companies like Jell-O are switching over to recyclable cups also.


  1. Oh, the toilet paper roll battle! You know what I do sometimes? I keep a cardboard box (that was destined for the recycling bin anyway)in the bathroom, and pop in the rolls. Once it's full, you only make one trip to the bin.

    Good reminders in this post! Thanks, Lia.

    1. That is an excellent idea! (And glad you liked the post!)