Recycling 101: Your Guide to Going Green

Don’t let the fear of a confusing system keep you from doing your part.

Do you really know what that “chasing arrows” symbol on the bottom of your milk jug really means? There are, after all, seven distinct types of recyclable plastic out there, all with different guidelines for disposal. Items marked 1 and 2, for instance, are widely recyclable. You might want to think again if it’s a 3, 4, 6, or 7.

Photographs by

But even if you sort your garbage and follow every instruction, there’s still a chance your recyclables won’t be accepted. Every jurisdiction has different policies and procedures, not to mention different facilities for sorting and fluctuating demand.

Confused yet? You can thank cheap, readily available plastics for that. Or you can research your town’s recycling protocol to see how you can best dispose of everyday items.

What can I recycle?

It varies slightly by county. But almost all roads in the Cincinnati recycling world lead to Rumpke, so we’re going by their guidelines. Generally, you can recycle:

  • Cardboard (flatten it!), paperboard (like cereal boxes), envelopes, clean pizza boxes, paper cartons without straws, soup boxes without caps.
  • Yogurt containers.
  • Newspapers, magazines (like this one), phone books, brown paper grocery bags, junk mail, office paper.
  • Glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans, steel cans, empty aerosol cans.
  • Plastic tubs (butter, sour cream, cottage cheese). No clam shells (berry containers) allowed.
  • Plastic bottles and jugs.

Should I put it all in a garbage bag?

Absolutely not! Plastic bags have the tendency to gum up the works. Just put your loose recycling materials in a marked bin, set it near the curb on recycling day, and let the experts handle the rest.

What should I never, ever put in the recycle bin?

Plastic bags are a no-no. So are cassette tapes, bed sheets, hangers, needles, batteries, electronics, metal chains, pots and pans, and light bulbs.

So where can I get rid of those pesky plastic bags?

Grocers like Kroger, Meijer, Target, and Walmart and retailers like Lowe’s and Kohl’s typically have collection bins for used plastic bags. Check out to find a drop-off point near you.

Wait. What about yard waste?

Don’t put it in the recycling bin, but don’t put it in the trash either. Grass clippings, cuttings from bushes and trees, etc., go in clearly marked yard waste containers, in special paper bags, or bundled with heavy twine or cotton rope.

Facebook Comments