Recycling 101

So the other day I was hanging with a friend of mine whom I would score a 10 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being best) in terms of effort spent on living a sustainble life.  Therefore you can imagine my surprise when this friend didn’t know that polystyrene (aka “Styrofoam”) is recyclable in Los Angeles (WHAT???!!! Be still my heart.)

I figured that if this friend wasn’t aware of this, than many others must not be either, so clearly this post is still relevant.

A primer on recycling: in theory, anything can be recyled.  The REAL question is “does your municipality recyle XYZ material.” In the City of Los Angeles, where I reside, our Bureau of Sanitation makes it easy to recycle polystyrene: we simply throw it into our recycle (blue) bin. Full details on what is recycleable in Los Angeles can be found here.

Two other points: on the website above it says that “clean styrofoam” can be put in the blue bin.  At one of the workshops I attended an LA BoS representative said that clean is defined as “if you turn it upside down and no food falls off.” So if your foam tray has some residual ketchup on it, that’s okay.  Just don’t throw the foam into a blue bin with a full sandwich still on it!   Secondly, styrofoam packing peanuts must be tied off in a plastic bag (so they don’t scatter on the street when the garbage trucks dump your trash can.  This is the same rule that applies to plastic film and bags.  AGAIN, these are City of Los Angeles rules.  Please check your municipality for its rules. (BTW, some packing peanuts are now made of biodegradable and compostable plant starch and can go into your garden or green bin. You can easily distinguish these from styrofoam because they literally melt when they get wet. They also make fun construction items for kids.)

BTW, if you want to recycle something random, simply type “how do I recycle XYZ into GOOGLE and you’ll probably find a solution.” My Howcast YouTube video on recycling can be found here.