Inspiration Guide

Recycling 101

Difficulty: Beginner Print

According to the EPA, just over 32% of Americans recycle. One of the reasons that number isn’t higher is the ongoing confusion about how to recycle properly. Recycling isn’t hard, but it is slightly more complicated than just creating a second rubbish bin for recycled materials.

If you want to start a curbside recycling practice and make your efforts count, follow these simple steps.

Step 1: Know Your Materials

Most curbside recycling centers accept the following items:

Cardboard, paper, food boxes, mail, beverage cans, food cans, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and jars, jugs and plastic caps.

Learn more about local recycling resources at

Step 2: Don't Mix and Mingle

Limit your recycling bins to approved items only.

Mixing unapproved items in your curbside bin can create big problems at recycling centers. If you want to ensure that your recycling isn’t rejected, be sure to keep it clean and pristine. When in doubt, leave it out.

Step 3: Keep it Clean

Remove all food and liquids from materials before recycling.

Try to avoid seeing recycling as just another form of garbage. If there’s visible residue on an item, give it a quick wipe or rinse before tossing it in the bin. The point is to make sure that other items in the bin aren’t contaminated.

Tip: If you want to find out how to recycle items beyond the curb, check out the EPA’s guide to common recyclables.