The Ultimate Recycling Guide

Editor’s Note: Beverly Jenkins and Ian Hart from The Tidy Maids in Raleigh contributed to this article.

Cary, NC – There are still numerous people who struggle with the decision of what to recycle or how to go about it. Others cannot decide what to do with items that have no proper disposal guidelines. The upside is that such people still want to contribute to creating a safe environment in the little way they know. If you are among such people, here is a quick recycling guide to boost your efforts.

Why Recycle?

There are numerous benefits of recycling. In fact, its advantages are among the things you may not think about always. Did you know recycling can help in preserving natural resources?

If you collect used items and send them to artists and manufacturers, they use them as raw materials for making other items. This means that they don’t need to extract new materials to create their product. Have in mind that some processes for extracting virgin materials require a lot of energy and water.

If we recycle, we reduce the amount of energy and water used in the manufacturing process. Besides, the recycled items would have ended in the landfills. You can bet most of these landfills are getting filled pretty fast. It is possible to prevent this by giving new life to some of the waste in your home. This not only saves the environment from pollution but also creates job opportunities for many.

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What To Recycle?

Have you ever noticed some tiny labeling appearing on plastic bottles and cans? One might take the numbers for some code of labeling by the manufacturer. However, the numbers have something to do with how friendly the plastic is to you and the environment. These numbers can indicate the level of hardness of a plastic can.

The numbers on such cans are between 1 and 7. If your container is labeled number 6 or 7, it means that the material has toxic chemicals which you should consider keeping away from. Also, such containers are not easy to recycle. This makes it necessary to check your plastic can before purchasing. Where possible, avoid such products.

Identify Nearby Recycling Options

There are still some used products you’ll want to recycle but aren’t recyclable, or you just don’t know how to go about it. Others, you have no idea if they can be recycled. Not many people think about recycling VHS cassettes, batteries, inhalers, running shoes and so forth. But surprisingly, it is easy to find specific businesses or non-profit organizations that require specific used items back for use again.

For instance, Apple is now encouraging users of its products to return old items in considerable conditions to them for proper recycling. Some are resold, and the person returning is rewarded with a coupon. Some grocery stores take back used wrapping papers for repurposing too.

The most important thing is for people to think creatively. Recycling doesn’t always mean what you are already used to. Even if you don’t know if an item can be recycled, checking with the stores where you bought it could open your eyes to the possibilities. Even Styrofoam containers have a couple of facilities that can effectively recycle them.


How Recycling Systems Work

Each state or nation has its own rules and regulations about recycling. Every lover of Mother Nature should be interested in finding out the policies within their area of residency. With some systems, you will be required to separate your items before sending them for recycling. Others will collect everything together.

Also, you will find systems that cannot repurpose unique items such as mattresses, batteries and so forth. On the other hand, some systems will deal with specific items especially those which are hard to repurpose. In this case, you will need to consult with the waste management department or sanitation department within your area to find out what you can do with the different waste products you have.


Generally, a good way to curb waste is to cut down on a number of plastics we bring into the house. When shopping, avoid packing your goods in too many plastic bags. You can always keep a reusable bag and carry it when going shopping. Consider purchasing items in bulk to reduce the number of tiny packing bags you have to carry home that day. Also, buy plastic containers that are necessary. Do not pack what you don’t need in your house. Following the above steps will reduce your worries about waste management.


Beverly Jenkins has 24 years of experience in house cleaning, customer service, and business operations at The Tidy Maids house cleaning service in Raleigh, NC. Photos by Lindsey Chester, Tony Alter and Steve Snodgrass.