Back to recycling basics.

As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly. Need help figuring out what is or is not recyclable in your city? … email me I’ll help ya! But everyone can use Terracycle no matter where you live worldwide! Read on to learn more.

I would say 60 percent of the questions I receive center around recyclables. Mainly the questions are about items you can and can not recycle. Here is your quick reminder about where, how and why you should turn your trash can into your recycle can.

First, let’s refresh ourselves on why it’s important to recycle. The EPA estimates each person generates over 4 pounds of waste everyday. The University of Colorado put it in other terms: “In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage.” We create a lot of waste. Although we use the saying “throw it away”, away has a place. Mostly, away is a landfill but in some parts of the country and the world it’s the ocean as well. In 2008, landfills were the second-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.

The recycling basics are different all over the country. Every city handles recyclables their own way and what they collect is based on the companies in the area that take the raw material, render it down and make new materials. For example, the city of Dallas does not recycle styrofoam, not because it isn’t recyclable, but because there isn’t a local rendering plant for styrofoam.

Most cities, Dallas included, not only contract out the recycling sorters but also the recycling pick ups. Not all cities collect recyclables either so we should feel lucky we have curbside pickup as residents of Dallas. If you live in an apartment that doesn’t have on site recycling, there are a number of recycling drop off locations around town (

In the blue curbside bins provided by the city of Dallas, you can recycle mixed paper (magazines, newspapers), cardboard (cereal boxes and corrugated), metal cans, glass and plastics #1-5 and #7. Turn your plastic container over and look for a small recycle symbol. Inside the symbol, which is often hard to find, there is a number. Plastics are categorized based on that number, which essentially separates out different plastic structures. This means in the blue bins as long as the items are clean you can put your milk cartons and soda bottles. No dirty or soiled items. Anything else can not be recycled in the blue bins. That includes, no paper towels, no metal hangers, no shredded paper and no plastic bags.

Frustrated yet?

The bad news is that curbside collection here in Dallas doesn’t accept everything. The good news is there is a place that does! Recycle Revolution ( located at 7600 Sovereign Row in the Design District of Dallas is a collection center for otherwise non recyclable items. They accept items such as styrofoam, electronics, old shoes, wood and more. Due to mainly the transport, some items have a small fee associated with them. For about the cost of a coke you can rest easy knowing that big bag of styrofoam will be recycled and not contributing to the methane pollution caused by landfills.

“We are the one stop shop” said Maria Lott, Director of Growth and Development for Recycle Revolution. Patrons can stop by weekdays from 7-4pm with everything from their used oil to batteries. Do you have own a restaurant? Recycle Revolution also picks up food waste from local businesses destined to be composted back into usable material.

Want to take your recycling to the next level and aim for zero waste? Start collecting items such as highlighters, chip bags, juice packets, and more to be upcycled through Terracycle is an upcycling business centered in New Jersey that provides free waste collection programs for hard to recycle materials. It’s simple: collect items such as tape dispensers and candy wrappers, get free shipping and earn points that can be redeemed for a donation to a non-profit organization or school of your choice.

Think about your trash can at home, school and/or work. How many items could be recycled through the curbside collection, Recycle Revolution or through Terracycle? There is a better way than tossing that item “away”.

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One Response to Back to recycling basics.

  1. Ant Mary says:

    Hi Nin!
    Love your columns! I thought this one was especially good. Not only did it explain the problem(s) with recycling but gave details on how the reader could get involved!
    Way to go!
    Ant Mary

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