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The Dirt on Recycling - Where USA's recycled trash actually ends up

Curbside recycling has been a widely accepted idea in mainstream society for a few decades. We separate our trash into bins designated for the landfill, and also to be sorted, processed and reclaimed back into paper, plastics, metals and more for reuse in our communities.

But did you know that most of the recyclables in the US - 66% in fact - was shipped to China from California prior to summer of 2017 because of an import ban issued by China on many recyclables in an effort to protect the health of its citizens and transition away from being the world's discards "dumping ground"?

Because China now accepts only a limited amount of clean and uncontaminated material, US recyclers have been hoarding materials, waiting for commodity markets to improve, or sending these materials to the landfill to be buried with the rest of our trash. I'm sure we can all agree landfilling is not a sustainable solution in the case of plastics, which do not decompose for hundreds or thousands of years.

If more than 3% of a load shipped overseas for recycling is found to be trash, the load is turned around and sent back to the US, and China is not paying for the shipment. The cost is put back on the haulers... and basically, you.

Ready to recycle the right way?

I found this nifty poster, presented online by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for a simplified resource to help you decide what is trash and what can be tossed into the recycling bin. You may be surprised to see plastic bags, boxes with tape, and wrappers are actually NOT recyclable items. Aluminum cans and other receptacles are NOT to have any residue on them, or else they are classified as trash.

I think, if we're going to wash our trash so it can be recycled anyway, why not make this a great excuse to create something beautiful, playful, quirky or useful for the home? Here are some fun ideas I've sourced from various blogs.

What are your thoughts about recycling at home? Share your comment below.


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