Friday, September 25, 2015

Teaching Kids (and parents!) How to Recycle

Part of living a non-toxic life and of raising healthy eco conscious munchkins is teaching them how to recycle.    From a very early age, munchkins can learn what kind of garbage goes into what trash bin.  When they reach age 3 or 4 they start to really be interested in the concept of recycling and reusing - a perfect time to introduce fun art activities that include repurposing or recycling things around the house, or even buying toys made out of recycled plastic  (like Green Toys Dump Truck and ImagiBricks 24 Giant Rainbow Blocks

Goop recently published a super useful list of what can and cannot be recycled which I thought I would share here .... I was actually surprised to read that used disposable cups and plates cannot be recycled and not all places consider egg cartons to be recyclable!  

Also, it is important to rinse any food container you plan to recycle since many time they will be sorted out if they contain a lot of food waste. 

Finally, make sure you are not recycling thermal store receipts. These  shiny,smooth,  thermal receipts contain BPA which can contaminate the recycling system and the recycled paper that is made from the process. Throw away and wash your hands after handeling these common receipts.  Even better?  Tell the sales clerk you do not need a receipt (or have one emailed to you)  

Did you learn anything from this list?



With the notable exception of Pyrex (heat resistant glass) all glass containers can be recycled.


  • Water Bottles
  • Laundry Detergent Bottles
  • Household Cleaner Bottles
  • Bleach Bottles
  • Dish Soap Bottles
  • Soda & Juice Bottles
  • Mouthwash Bottles
  • Peanut Butter Containers
  • Salad Dressing Bottles
  • Vegetable Oil Bottles
  • Milk Jugs
  • Butter & Yogurt Tubs
  • Cereal Box Bags
  • Deodorant Containers
  • VHS & Cassette Tapes (take the film out)
  • Dry Cleaning Bags (many facilities are now accepting hangers as well)


  • Mail
  • Computer Paper
  • Lined Paper
  • Construction Paper
  • Greeting Cards
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Catalogs
  • Phone Books
  • Sticky Notes
  • Paper Cups & Unused Paper Plates
  • Receipts  (this does not include shiny,smooth,  thermal receipts since these contain BPA which can contaminate the recycling system! Throw away and wash your hands after handeling)  


  • Boxes
  • Cereal Boxes
  • Shoe & Gift Boxes
  • Toothpaste Boxes
  • Cardboard Tubes
  • File Folders
  • Pizza Boxes (cannot be greasy)


(Check your local facility’s rules about crushing cans–some prefer that you do, others prefer you don’t.)
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Tin Cans
  • Bottle Caps
  • Tin Foil (clean)

Not Recyclable

  • Styrofoam To-Go Containers (there are some advanced recycling centers that can take styrofoam, but few and far between)
  • Used Disposable Plates & Cups
  • Meat Trays
  • Take-Out Containers
  • CD Cases
  • Sunglasses
  • Nylon
  • Blueprint Paper
  • Cigarette Boxes
  • Waxed Paper
  • Laminated Paper
  • Pet Food Bags
  • Ceramics
  • Heat-Resistant Glass (like Pyrex)
  • Metal Caps & Lids
  • Spray Tops From Cleaning Bottles
  • Padded Mailing Envelopes


  • Egg Cartons*
  • Brown Paper Bags*
  • Shredded Paper*
  • Newspaper*
  • Paper Towels (as long as not coated in cleaning chemicals)
  • Wooden Chop Sticks
  • Grass Clippings
  • Dry Leaves
  • Green Leaves
  • Tea Leaves & Bags
  • Cofee Grounds & Filters
  • Fruit & Vegetable Scraps
  • Plant Prunings
  • Crushed Eggshells

*Also recyclable in some places

Special Items
The New Jersey based Terracycle organizes programs for hard-to-recycle items, like baby food squeeze packs, Tetra Paks, toothbrushes, wisp flossers, Tupperware, Nespresso Capsules, Scotch Tape, shoes, wine boxes, pet food bags, pens, and more. While a few of these items can be recycled curbside, their mail-in system is a great option if your municipality doesn’t allow it.


Compact fluorescent bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, so it’s important to recycle them–if they break in the garbage can, that mercury gets released into the landfill. Many hardware stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s, offer recycling for these and other hard-to-recycle items.


It’s actually  illegal in many areas to throw batteries in a landfill because of the chemicals that leach into the soil. Car batteries can be returned to any store that sells them. For small, household batteries, check your kids’ school or your local library, where municipalities set up recycling boxes. And if all else fails, you can always mail them in.


Best Buy has drop-off centers for electronics (you can even bring them household appliances, like blenders or microwaves) in all of their stores. While they don’t have recycling facilities in every store, Apple offers gift cards for some old equipment–check their website to see if your local store qualifies.

For 6 basic tips for reducing and recycling including asking for no plastic cutlery when ordering food for deliver, taking your own bag to the supermarket instead of relying on their plastic or paper bags visit Goop

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