Reducing Our Footprint

Recycling helps when done properly
Recycling For A Healthier Planet
Latin family of three squeezing bottles to prevent environmental damage. Photo by Antonio_Diaz / iStock / Getty Images Plus

As global citizens, we should all be doing our part to minimize harmful impacts on the environment. That means being selective about the products we buy and taking care to properly dispose of them.

Not every item can be or should be recycled. Recycling the wrong way can be counterproductive. The best way to establish beneficial recycling habits is to begin by taking a look at the products already in your home with an eye toward reducing consumption.   

Some examples: Avoid plastic straws, reduce your use of paper towels by switching to cloth, bring your own coffee cup to your local coffee shop (when pandemics don’t prevent doing so) and purchase a reusable water bottle. 

Recycling can serve both to reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfills and provide materials for the manufacture of new products.

Before you recycle or throw items away, stop to consider if there are ways that you can reuse them. Repurpose clothing for use as cleaning cloths or turn that leaky cooler into a garage storage bin. Go online to find other ways to repurpose rather than toss items.

Be mindful there are numerous nonprofits gladly accepting unwanted furniture, electronics, clothing and more.

Toxic or hazardous items, including aerosol cans, paints, batteries, propane, electronics, lights and more should be kept out of the waste stream. Retailers often accept clean plastic bags, polystyrene containers and compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs).

“It is important for residents to be informed of the parameters of their municipality and do their best to adhere by them,” said Nathalie Bowers, public information officer with Emerald Coast Utilities Authority.

“The more vigilant we are in recycling clean and uncontaminated items, the more success our recycling programs will have.”

Bowers explained that for over a decade the Emerald Coast area lacked a proper processing system until ECUA secured a large facility that services Pensacola, Crestview, Destin and Fort Walton Beach.

Through its website and public education outreach, ECUA provides helpful information about recycling. The authority hopes to launch an app that identifies recyclable materials.

Recycling begins at home. Make proper recycling a family activity, and reinforce good recycling behavior with your children. Then, you can extend recycling efforts to your workplace and events you attend and host.

Children as well as adults can set good recycling examples. With a little practice, recycling becomes a good habit for young and old.   


What to Put in the Bin

Do recycle …

  • Glass bottles and jars (without lids)
  • Aluminum and steel cans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic bottles and jugs
  • Plastic tubs or containers
  • Cardboard (including pizza boxes with no food waste or grease on the box)
  • Newspaper and magazines
  • Office paper and junk mail
  • Paper towel and toilet paper rolls
  • Clean detergent, shampoo and cleaning bottles

Don’t recycle …

  • Plastic bags (including trash bags, shopping bags, sandwich bags, bubble wrap or any plastic film)
  • Styrofoam
  • Paper towels, tissues or napkins
  • Chip bags
  • Medical syringes
  • Aerosol cans
  • Plastic straws, knives, forks or spoons
  • Lightbulbs, batteries or electronics
  • Clothes hangers
  • Holiday lights
  • Metal
  • Clothing or linens
Categories: Ideas