When it comes to throwing out garbage, there are more categories than a game of Trivial Pursuit: food waste, cardboard, plastics, batteries, chemicals, and metals, just to name a few. While you may think you know all the tips and tricks, it’s possible you are disposing of your garbage incorrectly without even realizing it. Here are six common mistakes people make when throwing out garbage.
Overfilling Garbage Bags
While you may be tempted to fill each bag to the top, you’re potentially causing headaches for the waste collectors who handle the bag after you. Overstuffed garbage bags may burst when being thrown down the trash chute or while being moved from the bin to the truck. Be aware of each garbage bag’s capacity, and don’t overstuff it.
Recycling Greasy Cardboard
Greasy pizza boxes and other soiled cardboard products can ruin an entire recycling load. During the recycling process, greasy oil mixes in with clean paper, which may cause the whole batch of pulp to rot the longer it sits. Tear up any dirty cardboard and throw it in the trash.
Tossing Hazardous Materials
Hazardous materials cannot be thrown away like normal garbage. These include batteries, paints, medicines, electronics, and lightbulbs. Most local communities host special disposal events for hazardous waste, so check with yours to find out when the next event is scheduled.
Recycling Unrecyclable Plastics
Not all plastic products are recyclable. In fact, only 5% to 6% of plastics can be recycled, including rigid plastic food containers and toys. You also can’t recycle plastic bags or plastic food wrap, so avoid including these items in your recycling bins. Some places also have rules against mixing different types of plastics in the same bag, so check with your local recycling center for any restrictions.
Failing to Compost
Composting is a great way to enrich soil and raise healthier plants. To start, buy a compost bin for any organic waste you produce, such as fruit rinds, coffee grounds, and newspapers. Once it’s full, mix the combination with wood chips to create a nutrient-rich compost pile for gardening.
Putting the Trash Out on the Wrong Day
The longer you leave trash on the curb, the more likely it is to attract animals. When scavengers get into the garbage bin, you will be responsible for cleaning up the mess. Always double-check with your town to ensure you put the trash — and recycling — out on the correct day.
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