Yes, You Are Probably Recycling Wrong, And It's Only Hurting Other Clevelanders

Photo by Sam Allard
Fellow Clevelanders, you are probably recycling wrong.

Now, your heart is most likely in the right place. You no doubt care about the plight of the polar bears and that super scary Texas-size garbage pile in the middle of the Pacific, but when it comes to recycling you are either misinformed or, well, lazy. But today, we at Scene are here to help.

Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you put foil, used or not, in your recycle?
Do you put plastic bags in your recycle?
Do you put used plastic carry-out boxes in your recycle?
Do you put half-full cans of pop in your recycle?
Do you put paper or plastic microwave meal containers (complete with food residue) in your recycle?
Do you put old pizza boxes in your recycle?
Do you put your plastic berry containers in the recycle?
Do you put your red Solo cups in the recycle?

It turns out, none of these things are recyclable. By putting these items and other actual garbage in the recycle bin, people can unwittingly contaminate whole batches of recyclable materials. As Fox 8 terrifyingly reported last month, about 90 percent of the items Clevelanders try to recycle end up going to the garbage dump thanks to rising sorting costs, dwindling buyers and also, yes, incorrectly-placed garbage.

Despite the fact that recycling may all seem pointless right now, the Cuyahoga Country Solid Waste District is still calling on residents to recycle. However, they ask that everyone focus on recycling only the following five core items:

1. Empty and rinsed aluminum cans.
2. Juice/milk cartons that have been rinsed and emptied, with their caps on.
3. Empty and rinsed glass bottles and jars.
4. Flattened and unsoiled paper and boxes.
5. Empty and rinsed plastic bottles and jugs.

Finally, do not place your recycling in a plastic bag and put that in your large recycle bin outside. The garbage bag is not recyclable. Instead, use paper bags or keep everything loose.

It's hard work doing great things to keep the Earth healthy, but (hopefully) well worth the effort. Find out more about recycling in the Cleveland area right here. Or better yet, watch this ridiculous video below: Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
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