Monday, March 21, 2011

A Recycling Update

Last Monday I said that I was going to show you how much recycling our family of four accumulates in just 7 days. This was a pretty interesting exercise for me as well, because I was not sure how much recyclable material we actually went through in a week. It turns out that it is quite a bit!

First off, I should mention that we did not go through 4 gallons of milk in a week...we emptied the last bit of milk out of 2 gallons Monday morning, and then finished off another one last night and the fourth this morning. So we did drink 2 gallons this week, which is a good bit I suppose!

My husband and I were talking about the volume of recycling last night, and we agreed that this was not an abnormally large week for recycling for our family. In fact, on weeks when we sort and get rid of old papers, we produce significantly more recycling!

Here is a closer look at the pile:

There is also a small cardboard box under everything that is filled with papers...mostly things that came in the mail and the small, local paper that comes every week. There are a few cans and other food items in the plastic bag in the front, some paper packaging and a few children's hangers in the back box.

The really interesting thing I discovered this week is that we produced about twice as much recycling as trash in our trash can. That is huge! Our trash was picked up Tuesday, and the can is not even 2/3 full next to all that recycling. This explains why we put out so much less trash than those nearby us who do not recycle.

Keeping track of the recycling this week also motivated me to be diligent to check if things could be recycled before just tossing them in the trash. Several times I caught myself about to pitch it in the can (like the plastic children's hangers...I've been throwing them away for years!) but stopped myself and checked for the recycling triangle first.

I have a question too. Some containers take a really long time to get cleaned out so they can be this peanut butter jar...

It seems wasteful to me to run tons of water to get the peanut butter out just so I can recycle it. What do you think? Is it worth it, or should I just throw things like this away?

I hope this look at our week's recycling challenges you to consider recycling if you do not already, and encourages you if you are currently recycling!


  1. Use a rubber spatula to scrape every last bit out of the p butter jar. After washing dishes, take some of the used "grey" water and fill the p butter jar with it. Swish with a bottle brush, it should clean right away.


  2. One person I know will make oatmeal when the peanut butter jar is empty and mix the oatmeal in the jar. The peanut butter gets mixed into the oatmeal and so the last of it gets used. Rinsing out the jar then wouldn't use any more water than a regular bowl, plus you use the last of the peanut butter and give the jar one last purpose in life.

  3. I find myself constantly looking at the bottom of containers and boxes now to see if they can be placed in the recycling. Even plastic bags can be recycled too. Fortunately we don't have to sort out our own bins into glass, plastic and paper.

  4. I reuse my 18 ounce peanut butter jars every summer when I make freezer jam. I wash mine in the dishwasher and save them. When it's time to make jam I fill the jars up with jam and stack them in the freezer.

  5. Beth Anne, I have thought the same thing whenever I have something like a peanut butter jar, or especially a bottle that had salad dressing in it. Besides washing it out when you do dishes in the sink, the other thing I have done to clean it and save water is simply to put it in the dishwasher. With pb, it it easy to pull the label off, and it usually comes clean in one cycle in the d/w.

  6. I saw on one of the morning shows once when they had a special on recycling, that it is OK to put things such as the peanut butter jar in the recycling, even if it is not entirely cleaned out. The lady doing the special said that the recycling factory will know the difference between peanut butter and recyclable plastic.

  7. Thanks for the info! I always assumed that you had to make sure everything was cleaned out.

  8. I fill them with some water and soap, let them soak overnigjt,and then clean tjem out so I can make candy holders with them. Someday I plan to start a business and sell them.


What do you think? I love hearing from readers!

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