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May 08

Dear Recyclinda: Is it wrong to "wish" recycle?

Posted on May 8, 2018 at 10:16 AM by Becky Robinson

Recyclinda

Dear Recyclinda,

I'm an avid recycler and have been for decades. Even so, I'm sometimes just not sure what to do with a certain item. Blue bin? Yellow bin? Trash?

Because I love recycling so much, I want everything to be recyclable, so I'll usually put whatever item into the blue or yellow bin. There's no harm in that, is there?

Wishful in Westlake


The short answer? Yes. Yes, there is lots of harm.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Wishful, but "wish recycling" - tossing uncertain items into your recycling bins because you just hope they can be recycled - causes huge problems.

First, let me be the first to empathize. Recyclinda knows all too well the urge to purge without hurting the planet. Using paper plates feels wasteful, so it's tempting to convince yourself they can be recycled. (They cannot.) Pitching 100 feet of water hose is unpleasant, so you want to believe the heavy coils can go in the blue bin so maybe the metal ends will be cut off. (Nope.) 

Not only are these items not recyclable, putting the wrong refuse in the recycling bins can cause havoc at the SWA's recycling center. Equipment is damaged by plastic bags, cords, Christmas lights and hoses. https://swa.org/124/Website-and-Privacy-Policy. Greasy cardboard and food-stained paper plates contaminate clean paper, making is harder to recycle. Chemical containers can start fires in the facility. 

Your best bet? When in doubt, throw it out.

These are the only items the SWA wants in the blue and yellow recycling bins:
2018 Recycle Right Image for web

If you have a question about a specific recyclable, Wishful, please peruse our new "Is This Recyclable?" page to search the disposal database or call the SWA’s Customer Information Services at 561-697-2700 or toll-free at 866-SWA-INFO (866-792-4636).

I know it doesn't necessarily feel fabulous to fill up your trash can, but please believe that wish recycling can't hold a candle to recycling right.

Final RR Horizontal_web

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