Good Recycling Habits for Earth Day

Authored By: Community Financial Credit Union on 4/22/2022

We’ve all heard about the benefits of recycling. It’s good for the environment, it helps to reuse plastics that don’t naturally decompose on their own, and it makes us feel good. But how much do you really know about the practice itself? This Earth day, take the opportunity to brush up on good recycling habits to help the planet. We’ve compiled our favorite recycling tips and tricks below.

Best Plastic Practices

We’ve all heard that plastic products are some of the worst things to happen to our planet. But did you know why? While products made of wood, cardboard, or paper can decompose in landfills over time or be reused for other projects, that’s not really the case with plastic products. A plastic shopping bag, for example, can take up to 20 years to break down, while a plastic water bottle can take up to 450 years or more!

To avoid letting these one-use plastics pile up, follow these tips:

  • Avoiding plastics where possible is key. Instead of buying a case of water bottles next time that you grocery shop, opt for a reusable water bottle made of stainless steel or glass.
  • Bring your own reusable tote bags when shopping.
  • Invest in a set of reusable stainless-steel straws and utensils. Many stores carry travel-sets that come in their own cases for ease of use on the go.
  • If avoiding plastic products is unavoidable, make sure to clean out and recycle any plastic products so they can be reutilized in different products.

Know Your Numbers

You may have noticed stamped numbers on the bottom of common recyclable items, but what do those numbers mean? These numbers typically run from 1-7 and are accompanied by an outline of a triangle or arrows around the number in the shape of a triangle. This code was created by the Society of Plastics Industry and indicate to recycling plants the plastic resin content of the item. In simple terms, the higher the number, the harder the item will be to recycle. Plastic items with a number 7 on them, for example, are often excluded at recycling plants because the chemical make-up contains more than one resin type, and is therefore incredibly difficult to separate to create new items.

To get the most recycling bang for your buck, contact your local recycling facility to check which plastic types are utilized. This will cut down on the time, energy, and cost of recycling in general, allowing your local recycling plant to minimize their carbon footprint. To find your local recycling plant, or where to recycle specific items in your area, visit

Wishful Recycling

One of the most common recycling mistakes is what we call “wishful recycling.” This term is used to describe the act of throwing even questionable items in the recycling bin when you’re not positive they’re made of recyclable materials. Unfortunately, like including plastics not accepted at your local recycling facility, this slows down the recycling process and can often lead to contamination!

Some common “wishful recycling” items include small scraps (anything smaller than your phone) that can jam recycling machines, greasy pizza boxes that end up creating faulty recycled materials, Styrofoam containers, and paper coffee cups that have plastic or wax coating inside. While some of these items can still be recycled, they often need to be brought to separate facilities. Batteries, for example, cannot be tossed into your regular recycling bin; instead, bring used batteries to your local hazardous waste collection center (many cities have a drop-off center at city hall).

Clean It Up!

While some of you may already be aware, it’s important to reiterate that recycling facilities only accept clean, uncontaminated items. Simply put: make sure you clean your jars out before you pop them in your recycling bin! A jar of spaghetti sauce that hasn’t been cleaned properly, for example, can end up leaking onto paper products, causing all of the items to be thrown out and sent to a landfill. When in doubt, clean it out!

eReceipts and eStatements

To cut down even further on the number of items in your recycling bin each week, consider turning on eReceipts and eStatements at your local financial institution. At Community Financial, these can be easily switched on by selecting the “eStatements & eNotices” tab in your online or mobile banking app. Instead of receiving paper statements in the mail each month, you’ll receive an email stating that your statement is ready to view, making the process easier, faster, and a great way to go green! To turn on eReceipts, simply call (877) 937-2328 or let one of our Member Service Representatives know the next time you stop by your local branch. For more information about eServices that can help you go green and save the planet, visit

Your Turn:  Earth Day is the perfect time to reassess your relationship with recycling and recyclable items. What other recycling tips do you enjoy? Share your favorites with us in the comments!

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