Xanax-free recycling

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Recycling makes us anxious.  We can’t remember all the rules and we’re afraid that a single mistake will taint an entire haul and send it to landfill hell.

It turns out that the Department of Sanitation understands.  In fact, they are more worried about the stuff that’s not being recycled (40 percent of paper and 60 percent of metal) than the wrong stuff going in.

Herewith, a few guiding principles to take the edge off everyday recycling:

  • Plastic = Plastic bottles only. If you wouldn’t call it a bottle, it doesn’t get recycled. (Yogurt containers, restaurant delivery containers and plastic cups are not bottles.)  Don’t stress about the caps—they don’t belong but they won’t ruin the load.

  • Plastic shopping bags don’t belong but they get sorted out along the way. (Or you can bring them back to the store.)

  • Metal = recycle anything more than 50% metal. It’s okay to leave the labels on—they burn away when the metal is smelted.

  • Glass = Glass bottles and jars only.
  • Milk and juice cartons go in the bin with the plastic, glass and metal.
  • Virtually any paper can be recycled.  Don’t worry about the staples or paper clips—they will be sorted out.

For more detailed guidelines, visit the Department of Sanitation’s ‘What and How to Recycle’ web page:   

Or if you are inspired to take the lead in your building’s recycling efforts, volunteer to be trained as your building’s ABRI (Apartment Building Recycling Initiative) representative.  Learn more here:

What’s your system for sorting recyclables in your kitchen?

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