As a proponent of sustainability and the environment in general, I do believe that it is in our best interest as a society to focus on working towards sustainable practices. One of the easiest ways for average citizens to achieve this goal is through recycling. I’m all for recycling. Unfortunately, to err is human, and humans make a great deal of mistakes when it comes to recycling. In order to avoid these common mistakes, I thought I’d create a list of tips and tricks on how you can avoid these recycling faux pas.

Empty Your Containers

We’ve all been there: you’ve had a jar of mayonnaise or bottle of ketchup sitting in your fridge for months and now it’s no longer good to eat. You just want to get rid of it, so you throw it in the recycling bin, but you didn’t empty it beforehand. Mistake! You should certainly empty all of your jars and containers of their contents. It may seem like a chore, but it can do more harm than good and undo all of your positive efforts. The leftover contents of the containers can ruin paper and cardboard, contaminating them.

Make Sure to Remove Plastic and Tape

When you’re recycling your cardboard, take a minute to make sure that there isn’t any leftover tape on it. Unfortunately, not many people know that plastic tape cannot be recycled, and so, millions of people in the world recycle unrecyclable materials, which is not food, seeing as how those materials are usually not recycled anyways.

Know What You Can and Can’t Recycle

Recycling can be a bit confusing sometimes. With so many different products, bottles, jars, cardboards and cans, it’s easy to get tripped up on what should be recycled in what bins. Well, I’m going to highlight just a few of the things that can be recycled and some stuff that shouldn’t be recycled. Straws are something that definitely shouldn’t be recycled, unless they are made of paper. In fact, this issue has become so prevalent that several major food franchises have committed to completely ban the use of straws, like Starbucks. Reversely, aerosol spray cans can be recycled. Several people are confused as to whether or not they can recycle them, but I can tell you that you absolutely can!

There are many more mistakes that everyday citizens make when recycling. Hopefully this information inspires you to do some more research and avoid those pitfalls! Good luck!