If you’re not recycling these 8 items, you’re contributing to pollution

Woman Drinking Coffee While Working With Laptop

There’s a major difference between knowing about pollution and actively doing something to prevent it.

That difference? Action. Simply knowing that pollution is a problem won’t change anything unless you take steps to do something about it.

Recycling is one of those steps, but not everything makes its way into that green bin. In fact, there are 8 items that often get overlooked.

If you’re not recycling these 8 items, you’re contributing to pollution. I’m going to show you what these are, and how simple it can be to make a difference.

1) Plastic bags

We’ve all used them, probably more times than we’d like to admit. They’re handy, lightweight and convenient. But plastic bags are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to pollution.

What’s worse, they’re often not recycled properly. Many people don’t realize that most curbside recycling programs don’t accept them. Instead, they end up clogging our landfills and oceans.

However, many grocery stores have special bins for recycling plastic bags. So next time you go shopping, bring those old plastic bags with you and drop them in the right bin.

By doing this small act, you’ll be making a big difference in reducing pollution. And the best part? It’s an easy change that anyone can make.

2) Coffee cups

Now, I’m a coffee lover. I can’t start my day without my morning cup, and I’m sure many of you can relate. But here’s the thing – those takeaway coffee cups aren’t as innocent as they seem.

I used to think that because they were made of paper, they were recyclable. I was wrong. Most of them are lined with a thin layer of plastic to make them waterproof, which makes them unsuitable for most recycling programs.

So, I made a change. I invested in a reusable coffee cup. Now, not only am I doing my bit for the environment, but I also get discounts at some coffee shops for bringing my own cup. It’s a win-win.

Remember, every little change counts when it comes to reducing pollution.

3) Pizza boxes

Pizza boxes are a common sight in recycling bins, but here’s the catch – not all parts of the pizza box can be recycled. The greasy part at the bottom that has come in contact with the pizza cannot be recycled, as grease and oil are not suitable for most paper recycling processes.

However, the clean parts of the box, like the lid or sections not stained with food residue, are perfectly recyclable. A good practice is to tear off the soiled parts of the box and recycle the rest.

This might seem like a tedious step, but it’s a crucial one in ensuring that your recycling efforts are effective. When non-recyclable items end up in recycling facilities, they can contaminate entire batches of recyclables, leading to more waste.

4) Plastic utensils

We’ve all been there: grabbing a quick take-out meal and using the plastic fork or spoon that comes with it. It’s easy, it’s convenient, but it’s also a significant contributor to pollution.

Most plastic utensils aren’t recyclable due to their size and the type of plastic used. As a result, they end up in landfills or worse, our oceans, where they can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Consider investing in a set of reusable cutlery that you can carry with you. Or if that’s not feasible, opt for utensils made from compostable materials whenever possible. Small changes like these can make a big impact on reducing pollution.

5) Toothbrushes

Something as small and everyday as a toothbrush can have a huge impact. Every year, billions of them end up in landfills. And because they’re made from hard plastic, nylon and rubber, they don’t break down easily.

I think about the toothbrushes I’ve used in my lifetime. Then I multiply that by the number of people on this planet. The result? A mountain of toothbrushes, sitting in landfills, not going anywhere for hundreds of years.

Switching to a bamboo toothbrush is a simple switch. They’re just as effective at cleaning your teeth, and the handle can be composted once you’re done with it. It’s a small change, but if we all make it, we can create a significant reduction in pollution.

6) Disposable razors

Shaving is a part of many of our routines, mine included. But those disposable razors that we throw away after a few uses? They’re a big problem.

In the United States alone, over 2 billion disposable razors are discarded each year. That’s a lot of plastic and metal ending up in our landfills.

I’ve made the switch to a safety razor. Yes, it was a little intimidating at first, but once I got the hang of it, I found that it gave me a better shave than I’d ever had before. Plus, with just a single blade to replace, I’m reducing the amount of waste I produce.

So next time you need to replace your razor, consider making the switch. It can be a small step towards a more sustainable future.

7) Styrofoam containers

Styrofoam containers are a common sight at take-out restaurants and parties, but they’re also one of the worst offenders when it comes to pollution. Styrofoam, or expanded polystyrene, is not biodegradable and is rarely recycled due to the cost and difficulty involved.

These containers can sit in landfills for hundreds of years without breaking down. Worse yet, when they do break up into smaller pieces, they often end up in our waterways, causing harm to wildlife.

Next time you’re getting take-out or throwing a party, consider alternatives to Styrofoam. There are plenty of options available now that are made from compostable or recyclable materials. Every little bit helps in the fight against pollution.

8) Bottle caps

Bottle caps are small, but they cause a big problem when it comes to pollution. Most people don’t realize that caps need to be recycled separately from the bottles. When left on, they can cause issues in the recycling process, and often end up being discarded.

But even when recycled separately, many caps still end up in landfills due to their size and weight. This is a huge issue, particularly for our oceans, where bottle caps are one of the most common items found during beach clean-ups.

To make a difference, consider switching to beverages in glass bottles with metal caps, or better yet, invest in a reusable water bottle. It’s one of the most effective ways you can help reduce pollution.

Final thoughts: It’s about mindfulness

The journey towards reducing pollution and living more sustainably is deeply intertwined with mindfulness.

Just as we become aware of our breath in meditation, becoming aware of our consumption habits and the waste we generate is the first step towards change.

The eight items we’ve discussed aren’t just material objects, but symbols of our daily choices. Every plastic bag we refuse, every coffee cup we replace, each toothbrush we compost – they all add up to a collective impact on our environment.

So the next time you throw something away, take a moment to consider its journey. Ask yourself: Can this be recycled? Could I have avoided this waste? Is there a better alternative?

Remember, sustainability isn’t just about big changes; it’s about many small decisions made with awareness and intent. In the end, it’s these mindful choices that create a cleaner, healthier planet for us all.

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Graeme

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