Precycle – Making the choice to reduce waste by choosing and buying items that are unpackaged, reusable or recyclable. For example, bringing your own container and purchasing grains from the bulk section of the grocery store, instead of in a pre-wrapped container that would be thrown in trash when it was consumed.
Reduce – Making the conscious effort to reduce the amount of garbage that you produce. That could mean using a reusable lunch box and food container every day instead of paper and plastic bags that you would normally throw away.
Reuse – Giving items a second life. Using items more than once instead of throwing them away. For example, reusing glass food jars to store small items, paint or other food.
Recycle – Taking appropriate items and giving them a second life by putting them in recycle bins.
Refuse – To refuse using or purchasing items that you know you can’t reuse or recycle. For example, Styrofoam
Compost – Is organic matter and vegetable waste that has decomposed to create a great plant fertilizer. Many people compost in their own backyard!
Single Use – Items that are used for one purpose that cannot be reused or recycled. Examples include; medical syringes, light bulbs, toilet paper, cotton swabs, contact lenses, razors, toothbrushes & dental floss.
Wish-cycling –This is when someone puts questionable items in a recycling bin hoping that they are recyclable. Knowing for sure is important, and putting items in the recycle bin that aren’t recyclable does more harm than good. If you really don’t know if an item is recyclable or not, it’s best to put it in the trash.
Contaminated – When someone says that recycled items are “contaminated” they aren’t talking about how well you rinsed your recyclables. They are talking about putting only recyclables in the recycling bins. While rinsing and wiping out containers is important, even more so is making sure you only put correct items in the recycling bin. Contaminated means that when there is a large batch of recycled items at a recycling center, there are items mixed in that are not recyclable and that “contaminates” the entire load. Companies that purchase recycled materials for their products will not purchase recyclable batches that are overly contaminated. These rejected batches could end up in the landfill. The less contaminated a batch is, the more valuable it is to producers, which means the likelihood of it being remade into another product and out of our landfills is much greater! This is why it is so important to only put items in the recycle bin that you know for certain can be recycled.