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Kitchen recycling: Go beyond glass and cans

by Robin

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Most curbside recycling programs take paper, glass and certain plastics – usually the ones with the #1 or #2 on the bottom. Through these programs, you’re able to recycle a good amount of waste that is generated in the kitchen, but not all of it. For some of those items that your recycling program doesn’t take, here are some ideas for reusing and recycling them.

#5 plastics such as yogurt containers or deli containers

• Use them as planters for seedlings. Drill drainage holes in the bottom, fill them with organic potting soil, and start vegetables, herbs and flowers for the spring.
• Use the deli containers with lids to store dry items that you buy in bulk like rice, dry beans, and whole grains. You can write the names of the items on the clear plastic containers, too, because sometimes they are difficult to tell apart.
• If you’d like to recycle #5 plastics, check out Earth911’s recycling search feature. Input “#5 plastics” and your zip code, and the site will lead you to the closest recycling center.

Cereal/cracker box liners

• Use them like wax paper. Cut them along the seams and place them between layers of cookies in a tin or between burger patties that are to be frozen. Save all of your waxy box liners and you’ll never have to buy wax paper again.
• Wrap unused portions of fresh bread in them, then place that in a saved sandwich bread or other plastic bag, close and put in the freezer. You won’t need to use a store bought zipper freezer bag.

Coffee grounds

• Add coffee grounds to compost. There are many benefits to adding your nitrogen rich grounds.
• Add them straight to the soil around plants that like acid. You’ll see a perk up to the plants in a day or two.
• Remove garlic or onion odor from you hands by rubbing wet coffee grinds on them.

Egg cartons

• Any kind of egg carton – Styrofoam, plastic or cardboard – can be used as packing material. They are lightweight and create protection for items being packed.
• Many of the plastic ones are #1 plastic and can go in curbside recycling bins.
• Cardboard egg cartons can be put in the compost.

Most items can at least get a second use before heading to the trashcan. It saves a new item from being used and helps to reduce the amount of waste you produce.
 

Image: Living in Monrovia
 

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