Last week, I spoke to some people who were still unsure about what to recycle, and they asked me to give them a list. Now I am over 8 months into my Zero Waste journey, and while I have a handle on the basics, recycling can be mighty confusing! I wanted to fill you in on 5 items that currently cannot be recycled.
- Single Use coffee cups
This is a big one. Most people do not realize that these are not just cardboard. These cups have a plastic lining on the inside, making them very difficult to recycle. Recently, 7/11 in Australia have paired with an inventor who has found a way to separate the cup from the lining, but this is still not widely available. A keep cup is a must to avoid waste – but if you do happen to find yourself with a disposable coffee cup (and you are in Australia) then try and make sure it does get to those who can recycle it!
- Produce stickers
Yes, I’m talking about those pesky stickers on your fruit and vegetables. While there is a small percentage of these that are compostable, I assure you that most of them are not. Where possible, I try to get my fruit and vegetables without them, from a farmers market, or at least from a small local company. Where you can’t avoid them, I would strongly encourage you to talk to the store owner and advise them that you would prefer that they didn’t use them. Providing feedback is a great way to incite change.
- Takeaway containers
These vary so much that it is impossible to say that none of them can be recycled, but the chances of you receiving one that is – well, it’s just not worth the risk. They come in many different forms of plastic (usually #7, which is the “everything else” category for plastic) or worse, styrofoam. I always use my own containers to get takeout, and I specify to them that I don’t want any napkins or cutlery.
I am sure that I have mentioned this one before, but it still baffles me. Tea bags contain plastic, often at least 25%. It is supposed to hold the structure of the bag up, but personally, I think it sucks. there are enough pollutants in our world, we don’t need to be drinking out of heated plastic. I am about to switch to loose leaf, and I won’t be going back!
- Cigarette butts
This is one we could have all probably guessed, but its one I don’t think that people think about. I’m not a smoker (never have been) but I’m not judging anyone who does – I would just like to encourage everyone to make sure these don’t end up on the ground. They will not decompose on their own.
And that makes 5 – but I’m sure there are many others, comment them in the comment section below. We all need to stick together when it comes to recycling. Companies are not going to make it easy for us, so we need to help each other out!