Quiz: Are You Recycling the Right Way?

Earth Day is April 22, and the entire month is dedicated to spreading education about how to be friendlier to the environment. Michigan’s natural beauty is part of what makes it such a wonderful place to live, so this is the perfect time to check in and make sure you’re doing what you can to reduce, reuse, recycle and help keep our planet and our state as healthy as possible. 

One of the simplest ways to do that is recycling as much as you can—it preserves natural resources while keeping reusable items out of landfills. But as simple as recycling might sound, there’s a lot of confusion swirling around about the right and wrong way to do it. Not sure if you’re following the rules properly? No problem! Take this quick quiz to help you test your recycling know-how (and check your local county rules for specifics based on where you live):

Q: True or False: There’s no need to rinse food or residue out of containers before recycling them.
A: False.
Since residue can’t be separated out during the recycling process, recycling something with food bits, grease and other remnants on it is no good. You don’t need to get everything absolutely spotless, but be sure to give containers a good rinse under the faucet before putting them in your recycling bin.

Q: How many different numbered plastic types are there?
A: 7
Plastic comes in different forms so it can be used in shopping bags, egg cartons, shampoo bottles and more. And all of the different variations of plastic are labeled (check the bottom of the container for a number). Some kinds of plastic can be left in your curbside bin while others need to go to a designated recycling center. See a more detailed breakdown of the different types of recyclable plastics on page 11 of this recycling guide.

Q: Which of the following household items CAN be recycled through a curbside recycling service?
A: Microwaves
B: Batteries
C: Light bulbs
D: Printer cartridges
E: None of the above
A: E: None of the above.
For safety reasons, you can’t recycle any of those items through your local curbside service. But don’t put them in your garbage, either! Just locate a safe recycling center and you can drop these items off so they get recycled properly.           

Q: True or False: When you’re done with a pizza, put the entire box in the recycling.
A: False.
Even though most pizza boxes say you can recycle them, the food and grease that remains can complicate the recycling process. There is a simple fix, though: Just cut the bottom of the box off (or any other parts covered in grease or leftover food) and recycle the rest.    

Q: True or False: For the sake of space, it’s ok to package recyclables of different materials inside of each other. For example, nesting a plastic jar inside a tin can.
A: False.
Recycling centers aren’t able to separate these items by hand. That said, you can nest similar materials together, like cardboard in cardboard or metal in metal.   

Q: In addition to recycling glass, metal and plastic, you can recycle organic material through composting. Which of the following foods are NOT good for a compost pile?
Fruits and veggies such as apples, oranges, broccoli and lettuce
Dairy products like cheese, butter, yogurt and cream
Grains such as rice, barley and bread
Beverage-related waste like coffee grounds, tea bags and paper coffee filters
A: Dairy products.
Because dairy tends to attract odors and doesn’t break down as quickly as other organic waste, cheese, yogurt and cream aren’t a great fit for compost piles. You also might not want to compost meat, bones, skin and fish—proteins like those can attract maggots and smell rancid.

Recycling isn’t the only way to go green this month. Check out these blogs for even more ways to be eco-friendly during Earth Month:

Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

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  1. As to the question as to what cannot be placed in the curbside recycle bin….batteries. In Troy we can put them in a baggie and put them in our recycle bin.

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