Abundant Frugal Life

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Curbside Recycling

Posted by Lisa

For you light green folks like me, curbside recycling is one of the easiest ways to better your stewardship of the land and natural resources God has given us.

I’m surprised at how many people don’t understand what you can/can’t recycle curbside.

While all curbside programs differ, the most commonly included materials are the Big Five:

1. Aluminum – The aluminum can is the most valuable beverage container to recycle and it is the most recycled consumer product in the U.S. today.

2. Glass – is one of the most popular materials to be recycled today, both because of the purity of the ingredients and the quick turnaround of recycling.

3. Paper – is one of the most versatile and important materials used in homes, schools and businesses.

4. Plastic – recycling plastic affects a range of products, from drink containers to shopping bags to pipes. Plastic is almost always the product of petroleum, a non-renewable resource. This makes recycling plastic even more important.

The number inside the recycling symbol indicates the type of resin made to produce the plastic. Because each resin is different, these numbers affect how and where you can recycle plastics. You don’t have to remember the name. Plastics are identified by numbers 1-7.

Here are some common products you’ll find of each type:

#1 PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)*: soda bottles, oven-ready meal trays and water bottles

#2 HDPE (High-density polyethylene)*: milk bottles, detergent bottles and grocery/trash/retail bags

#3 PVC (Polyvinyl chloride): plastic food wrap, loose-leaf binders and plastic pipes

#4 LDPE (Low-density polyethylene): dry cleaning bags, produce bags and squeezable bottles

#5 PP (Polypropylene): medicine bottles, aerosol caps and drinking straws

#6 PS (Polystyrene): compact disc jackets, packaging Styrofoam peanuts and plastic tableware

#7 Other: reusable water bottles, certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware

*PET and HDPE are the most common forms of plastic, so they are the easiest to recycle. In fact, if you’re ever looking for new carpet, check out PET (“Pop Bottle”) Carpet. It’s made of recycled plastic pop bottles. It has great durability, retains color (even with use of bleach), and costs less. We love ours.

5. Steel - is an extremely valuable metal that is present in many of the containers and devices we use on a daily basis. While steel is the dominant material in the cars we drive and beams of the buildings we work in, for the average person recycling steel will involve the proper disposal of steel cans and scrap metal.

Care to Try?


  • You don’t need to remove labels from cans and bottles, but you do need to remove plastic caps (and throw them away).
  • Your recyclables don’t need to be spotless – just not moldy or full of food. Save water – don’t rinse ’til clean.


  • Unbroken bottles are easier for workers to sort than broken ones.


  • Most containers, such as tins and cans, and aluminum foil.


  • Newspapers, magazines, photocopies, shoe boxes, envelopes (including ones with glassine windows).


  • Plastics #1-#2 – recyclable in most areas. Usually found in 2-liter and detergent bottles, milk jugs and food containers.
  • Plastics #3-#7 – more difficult to recycle, they are found in Styrofoam, pipes, shrink wrap, padded envelopes, trash liners and more. Check with your local facility to see if it recycles these plastics.
  • Yogurt Cups – recyclable in most areas, especially the #2 plastic kind.
  • Grocery bags – reuse them first! You usually can’t recycle them curbside, but some supermarkets have recycling bins in-store. Try to avoid them altogether by bringing your own canvas bags to the store.

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