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When Recycling, the Little Things Add Up

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When Recycling, the Little Things Add Up

Many of us think that small scraps or damaged items aren’t recyclable. Turns out we’re wrong. How’s your recycling IQ?

Hands up if you recycle!

We all do, don’t we? But a new study has us asking ourselves: are we doing it properly?

I’ve never met a more obsessed—er, I mean enthusiastic—recycler than my dad. He salvages every scrap, down to postage stamp-sized pieces of paper for the recycling bin, and then scours each garbage bin to make sure no one else in the house missed anything. I love my dad, but he’s crazy, and anyone would agree with me.

Well, except for the authors of this new study, probably. These researchers (from the University of Alberta) found that most of us have a subconscious belief that small scraps of otherwise recyclable material, along with dented or damaged recyclable goods, aren’t fit for recycling, so they end up in the trash.

But contrary to what most of us might think, these small pieces of paper, plastic tops of bags that were cut open, dented or crushed cans, and tops of bottles (including juice and milk jugs), are all recyclable. We need to remind ourselves: even if the item isn’t useful to us anymore, it can still be useful to the recycling depot. These small bits really add up: by leaving these items out of the trash, we’re doing a little bit of good for the planet. It looks like my dad was right all along!

What’s your recycling IQ?

Are you a lazy recycler, or do you—like my dad—recycle every small scrap down to the tiniest detail? Do you have any tips or tricks for those of us who could improve? Let us know via Twitter, Facebook, or blog post comments below.

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