Some days I feel more like a Google search engine than a human being. Friends, family, coworkers and classmates pester me with constant questions: “How do I wash this stain out of my shirt?” “Do you think my finger is broken?” “What is Shingles? How do I spell…” But the most common question I get asked across all groups is “Can I recycle this?”
I have to say, although I enjoy answering all of the questions, this one I never get tried of. Yes, it would be nice if people could remember that the cereal box they asked me about yesterday is the same concept for all cardboard boxes, but at the same time I happy that they are 1. thinking about recycling and 2. taking the time to figure out how to do it right.
It shocks me how little my roommates and coworkers in particular know about recycling. But it’s not just them, across campus recycling is a struggle. Students don’t understand what they can and cannot recycle, and more often than not students give up and simply put everything in the trash.
So here it is Santa Clara students (and most other people), your guide to recycling:
In Santa Clara and at SCU all recycling goes into one major bin to be sorted at a facility. This means you can lump all of your recyclables together and place them in the dumpster marked “recycling.”
All plastics with 1-7 on them in the arrows are recyclable. You can usually find this symbol on the bottom of the item.
All glass, unless from a broken window or mirror, is recyclable.
All paper, colored or plain white, written on or drawn on, whatever it may be, is recyclable. This even includes old books that are too trashed to be donated and the school refuses to buy back from you.
All cardboard free of grease or wax can be recycled.
Aluminium and Tin:
Best if rinsed, just place it in the bin. This includes canned goods, soda cans, ect.
Don’t’s of recycling:
1. Do not put your recycling in a trash bag or a plastic bag and then place it in the bin. These bags cannot be recycled (if they have a number on them that signifies they are recyclable they are not actually recyclable at a regular recycling facility and you need to return them to the grocery store for proper recycling).
2. Pizza boxes cannot be recycled. They can be composted, but any cardboard with grease or wax on it cannot be recycled.
3. Water bottle lids cannot be recycled.
4. Just because it’s made out of plastic doesn’t mean it’s recyclable. That plastic chair or plastic container cannot be recycled unless it has a number 1-7 inside the triangular arrows on it.
5. Toilet paper, tissues, dryer sheets, and paper towels are not recyclable. If you couldn’t turn it in with your term paper on it, it’s not the “paper” that can be recycled.
6. “Plastics” that are compostable or marked with “other” are not recyclable. They either need to be composted (if it is compostable and available near you) or put in the trash.
7. Your milk carton is compostable, not recyclable. Either compost or trash it, preferably compost of course.
Bonus for students:
In your trash areas outside your dorm (or any dorm if you live off campus and want to take advantage) there is a section for e-waste. You can leave any kind of electronic, printer toner/ink cartridge, batteries, ect. there to be responsibly recycled.
Now you too can answer “Can I recycle this?”