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Recycling is annoying.

I realize this isn't the most popular opinion among low-waste/zero-waste/refill shop owners. But the reality is, recycling IS annoying. Compared to chucking stuff into a trash can without having to think about it, recycling is effort. Beyond that, you can't turn on the news without being told that recycling might not even be worth it. So what gives? We WANT to recycle what we can and we WANT to do the right thing... so what do they mean it's not being recycled or not.... worth it?

Now you all know that we aren't the preachy types. We aren't here to guilt you into or out of anything. But we do believe in providing information so you can make your own decisions! I tend to find NPR a bit preachy from time to time however this little video is pretty enlightening about the current state of recycling:

Okay so now that you're a little dejected and wondering "what's the point?" lets talk about what you CAN do.

  • Don't give up on curbside recycling

Even though there currently isn't a great system for dealing with recycling, I'd like to believe that baling up potentially recyclable material in the hopes that it will eventually get reprocessed and resold on the commodities market is better than it going directly into a landfill without any potential. As long as recycling is still offered/available, we'll keep trying.

Here in Parker, all curbside recycling goes in one bin.

- Glass

- Aluminum & Steel

- #1-7 Plastics

- Paper

- Cardboard

- No food waste or organic material

- No plastic bags or cling wrap

- No Styrofoam

- Do NOT put any items in bags

- Aluminum & Steel

- #1-7 Plastics

- Paper

- Cardboard

- No glass

- No food waste or organic material

- No plastic bags or cling wrap

- No Styrofoam

- Do NOT put any items in bags

Confused about the chasing arrows and numbers? Here's another little video that talks about what they mean simply:

  • Consume Thoughtfully

I'm sure I buy as much stuff as the next person. It's hard to make conscientious purchases when manufacturers simply don't package things in a conscientious way! Sure some things can be purchased with minimal packaging but some things are packaged in the most ridiculous ways. Think of the last bag of chips you purchased! 1/3 chips... 2/3 air.... all wrapped in plastic.

If we look at this problem as a "front end" problem rather than a "recycling" problem the solutions to the "recycling" problem become less about fixing recycling and more about fixing packaging. So what can we do to help the 'front end' in our daily lives?

Ideas that don't take MUCH effort but still take SOME effort:

- Shameless plug: Refill your household cleaning and personal care needs at Refillary

- Buy products that last rather than disposable ones i.e. safety razors, non-paper towels, dryer balls, beeswax wraps, ect.

- Purchase meat from the butcher rather than in plastic packaging. Hopefully the butcher uses waxed paper rather than laminated but regardless it's still better than a cling wrapped meat on a Styrofoam tray

- Look for products packaged in materials that are compostable or actually recyclable

- Use reusable bags for groceries and produce (Colorado has recently made NOT doing this cost you $0.10/bag)

- Buy in bulk using reusable containers (Most bulk items from Azure Standard delivered at Refillary monthly come in heavy paper bags and cardboard)

- Reuse containers and packaging for other household needs

- Fix things that are broken instead of throwing them away and buying something new

- Buy secondhand (almost all the furniture in the shop, and our house for that matter, is secondhand)

- Support local businesses. Less shipping = less waste

- Support local farms

- Buy American (we have much stricter labor laws and EPA guidelines than other countries)

- Get over the desire for "pretty" packaging. Whatever you are buying isn't going to stay in the packaging long. Choose your wine based on the label... not everything else. (Okay I admit, that was a bit preachy -- for some reason this advertising gimmick really gets to me!)

Want to take it one step further? Call or email your favorite brands and demand that they make their packaging more sustainable! Encourage your congresspeople to put pressure on manufacturers to use #1 or #2 plastics, glass or paper rather than other packaging. Brilliantly come up with better/cleaner recycling solutions? (Okay the last one is a bit of a joke but... maybe you are that brilliant?)

  • Utilize Specialty Hard-to-Recycle Item Resources

Refillary tries to help support recycling efforts beyond the curbside. We have partnered with Terracycle to try and further prevent waste from going into landfills or from gumming up the normal recycling works. TerraCycle is different from your local curbside recycler in that they develop recycling solutions for waste streams that are not typically curbside recyclable. You can find out more about them here. We have an "All-in-One Box" here at Refillary that will take almost ANYTHING curbside recycling won't take (other than hazardous waste and biologics) however this is a program paid for by us. We ask for round up donations as part of your purchase to help support this effort!

However, something really cool about Terracycle is that different manufacturers can also partner with them and sponsor (i.e. pay for) a recycling program for their products. Some aren't even product specific -- for instance, Refillary is part of Colgate's program which pays for the recycling of dental products regardless of brand. Gillette pays for shaving product recycling regardless of brand.

New this month, Saks is sponsoring beauty products recycling regardless of brand and GoGoSqueeze is sponsoring snack squeeze pouch recycling! This means that less 'stuff' that goes into the "All-in-One Box" that "we" have to pay for!

Here's a cool video of how Terracycle recycles and what they do with the items after:

  • Other Resources

So we aren't here to preach at you or make you feel guilty. But we do want to help provide resources and, well... encouragement. You don't have to worry about recycling the container if you come and refill your bottle here though.... just a nudge. ;)

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