You want to do your part to protect the environment, so you try to recycle what you can.
Your heart is in the right place, but if you’re not careful, you may be “wish-cycling,” which does more damage than good.
In this post, we explain how to make sure you’re recycling the right way while sharing what we’re doing at CV Skinlabs to create less waste!
What is Wish-Cycling?
Wish-cycling is a term used to describe this scenario: You’re standing in front of the trash and recycling bins. You have a latte in your hand complete with lid and stirrer. You want to recycle everything you can, so you toss everything into the recycling bin. Can’t hurt, right?
Actually, it can. In this scenario, none of the three items—the Styrofoam cup, plastic lid, or plastic stirrer—can be recycled. That means you just disposed of those items improperly, which can cause a lot of problems down the road leading to less material being recycled rather than more.
When non-recyclable items are introduced into a batch of recyclable items, it can contaminate the entire batch, forcing recycling operators to send it all to the landfill. The National Waste Recycling Association estimates that about 25 percent of recyclables end up contaminated and thrown away.
In other words, by trying to recycle more items, you actually recycle less.
Introducing items that can’t be recycled into a recyclable bin can also create delays for operators as they try to sort out the non-recyclable items. These delays cost money and can jam or break the machinery.
How to Avoid Wish-Cycling and Recycle Properly
To avoid wish-cycling and ensure that you place only the proper items in recycle bins, follow these tips:
Try the Waste Wizard tool: The Waste Wizard tool is an online resource created in California. You type in the name of the item you want to dispose of, and it tells you whether you can recycle it or not. It also gives you helpful information about where you can recycle it.
Learn your local recycling rules: Check with your local municipal website and waste authority to find out what your community has for recycling rules and resources. You can try the “Find My Municipality” tool to check what recycling services are available in your area.
Learn general recycling rules: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the following “top 10” list of items that can typically be recycled:
- Food boxes
- Beverage cans
- Food cans
- Glass bottles
- Jars (glass & plastic)
- Plastic bottles and caps
The following items are big recycled no-nos
- Garden hoses
- Sewing needles
- Bowling balls
- Food or food-soiled paper
- Propane tanks and cylinders
- Aerosol cans that aren’t empty
- Broken glass
- Broken light bulbs
Know more about plastic recycling: Plastic recycling causes the most confusion. We think we should be able to recycle most plastics, but that’s not true. Only some can be recycled.
How can you tell? Check the bottom of the container for the “recycling codes.” These are numbers that indicate the grade of plastic.
- #1–Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE): This is the easiest plastic to recycle. It’s found most commonly in plastic water/soda bottles and some food packaging (like ketchup and mouthwash bottles). Recycle through your curbside program, but be sure to empty and rinse out first, and throw the cap out—most are made of a different type of plastic.
- #2–High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE): This is also readily recyclable, and is found in milk jugs, juice bottles, bleach and detergent bottles, and other household cleaner bottles, as well as shampoo bottles, some trash and shopping bags, butter and yogurt tubs, and more. Recycle through your curbside recycling program.
- #3–Polyvinyl Chloride and Vinyl (PVC and V): This type can rarely be recycled, so in most cases, it’s best to throw it away. It’s found in piping, siding, blister packaging, and some shampoo and cooking oil bottles. Check with your local waste management to be sure.
- #4–Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE): This is also less likely to be recycled, but some communities are starting to accept it. Check with your local authorities. It’s found in squeezable bottles, frozen food, tote bags, and furniture.
- #5–Polypropylene (PP): Whether this can be recycled depends on your community. Some programs are beginning to accept it. It’s found in some yogurt containers, syrup and medicine bottles, caps, and straws. Always be sure to rinse out first.
- #6–Polystyrene (PS): This is the same as Styrofoam, and most recycling places will not accept it. It’s found in disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, and CD cases.
- #7–Miscellaneous: This category includes a wide variety of plastics that don’t fit into the other categories. They aren’t traditionally recycled. It includes plastic found in three- and five-gallon water bottles, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, certain food containers, and more.
Remove caps, pumps, and spouts: The bottle may be recyclable, but often the other things that come with it are not. Make sure to remove these other items and throw them out before you put the bottle into the recycling bin.
How to Recycle Your Beauty Products
By going over the tips above, you will get a good idea of how to recycle your beauty products, including shampoo and conditioner bottles, skincare bottles, and the like. If you’re using CV Skinlabs products, you may be glad to know that we are constantly working to reduce our environmental footprint.
We started by using safe ingredients that would not harm humans or the planet, then we put them into safe containers that can be recycled (just remember to remove the lids and pumps first).
We decided against using glass bottles that can crack, break, and shatter, creating a safety hazard. We chose packaging that is recyclable, safe, and BPA-free, and that presented no risk of harmful chemicals potentially leaching into our formulas.
Our one-way evacuation packaging (no jars) also minimizes contamination and oxidation of our active ingredients. Products that come in jars require the user to dip his/her fingers into the formula, increasing the risk of contamination and infection, as well as exposing tender ingredients to the oxidative effects of the air. CV Skinlabs uses no jars, but only one-way evacuation pumps and tubes.
Our customized bottles are also easy to hold and share. People with arthritis, neuropathy, or other movement challenges caused by medications, diseases, or other health conditions won’t have to struggle to open or use our products.
We’ve recently made some changes, including eliminating our product insert in some of our packages (to save paper) and continuing to print information on the inside of the package to reduce overall waste.
We will continue our endeavors to reduce our environmental impact, and in the meantime, encourage you to do the same. If we all work together, we can reduce our overall waste and help make a difference in the world around us.
Is recycling important to you?