Think Before You Throw!

Covid-19 Recycling Response

Here is some specific recycling information for Covid-19 Response.

What Covid-19 related products can you recycle?

  • Paper Towels

  • Cardboard Packaging

What Covid-19 specific products can you not recycle?

  • Masks

  • Latex-Gloves

  • Sanitizing Wipes




Dividing Waste


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What To Recycle

Batteries & Electronics

In California, Batteries and Electronics are prohibited from landfills. Batteries can be brought to a hazardous waste disposal facility and electronics can be brought to special facilities as well. [1] This will allow for this hazardous waste to be reused.


Through the Mattress Recycling Council’s Bye Bye Mattress program in California, residents can bring mattresses to collection sites around the state. Find out sites near you at Bye Bye Mattress [1].


In most cases, only plastic containers and bottles that have 1 or 2 plastic resin codes (or SPI code which stands for Society of the Plastics Industry) can be recycled. Though in some cases resin codes 3-7 may also be accepted. [1] Plastic bags and packaging are recyclable, but NOT in the curbside bins, so "the vast, vast majority of people need to recycle these items through Store Drop Off." [3] Read more about different types of plastic and what to do with them in the section below, Types of Plastic: Which to Recycle? It is very important to recycle plastic waste as the creation and destruction of plastic is one of the leading causes of pollution. Recycling plastic can help stop it from disrupting fragile ecosystems along with polluting the air.


Regular Printer Paper along with black and white newspaper is compostable, but in the case that you do not have an available compost, this paper may also be recycled. [2]

"Wishcycling" Notice

If you don't know whether something should be recycled, it may be tempting "to just put it in the recycling bin anyways, in a hope (or even an assumption) that 'they’ll find a way to recycle it.'” [3] This uninformed recycling, "wishcycling," can actually be counterproductive! Though it may be easy to forget, recycling facilities are actually businesses, and they need to turn out a profit in order to stay open and continue recycling. The extra money spent processing and sorting non-recyclable items "really slow down the recycling facility operations so that fewer overall materials can be processed by the facility each day, which hurts the health of the recycling business." [3] So, if you aren't sure whether something can be recycled, it really is not beneficial to assume it is: the amount of pollution reduced from not recycling that single item you're not sure about (and may not be recyclable anyways) simply isn't worth the huge lost opportunity of what could have been recycled if the recycling company didn't have to sort out as much trash.

To remind yourself and others of this, remember: if in doubt, throw it out!

Should You Rinse Your Recyclables? --- Yes!

Many places, including most of America, have "single-stream recycling," which means that paper, plastic, aluminum, and all recyclables go into the same curbside bin. This means that if there is any grease or oil on ANY of your recyclables, it can get onto the paper in that load, and "ruin the entire load of paper recyclables." [4] So, the answer? Rinse your recyclables! Even a short rinse will make a huge difference to the amount of food on containers, and is greatly appreciated. If you are worried about the extra water used in the process, you can use dishwater runoff to clean them: all that matters is that you get the food off. The moment it takes to "give them a rinse, even if it’s just with dishwater runoff, will ensure that they end up getting processed. " [4]



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What To Compost


Paper is okay to compost! This includes printer paper and black and white newspapers. [1] Newspapers will add carbon to your compost and help it grow, but it is important to shred it first. A bundle of newspaper will not allow for enough oxygen to be added to the compost and you will not obtain the right results in your soil. [2]

Vegetarian Animal Manure

Manure, also known as poop, can be composted when taken from a vegetarian animal. [1] This means, the animal must consume only plants. This will make the manure very good in creating fertile soil.



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What To Throw In The Trash

Coated Paper Products

Coated Paper Products must be thrown in the trash! This includes things like styrofoam cups and sticker sheets. [1] It is pretty easy to recognize coated paper from regular paper just by its texture. They may be similar, but this kind of paper is not recyclable or compostable.

Used Paper Products

Used paper products include tissues, paper towels, and napkins. If these products have been used and are visibly dirty, then they are not fit for recycling. [2] Remember: if in doubt throw it out.

Plastic Utensils and Straws

Many people do not know that plastic utensils (forks, knifes, spoons, and sporks) and plastic straws are not recyclable. These plastic items are made of a different type of plastic that is not appropriate for recycling. This makes the usage of these items even more harmful. They pollute to make and pollute to break.


Types of Plastics: Which to Recycle?

There are many different types of plastics, but not all of them can be recycled. The numbered recycling symbol on most plastic products (see left image) shows what type of plastic it is, and thus how it should be recycled or trashed in different areas. Different types of plastic are varyingly difficult to recycle, which means that some plastic products with the recycling symbol may not be recyclable where you live! [1] Because of this, it is important to be careful what you recycle, and make sure to pay attention to the number in the recycling symbol. Below is an explanation of each number in the recycling symbol, and what it means:

Most of the information on this list comes from GreenLivingTips [1]. It is important to remember that recycling regulations are different depending on where you live, which is why some of the harder-to-recycle numbers are left vague. Look up your city's regulations before deciding whether to recycle a certain type of plastic. [1]

  1. Abbreviated as PET or PETE, Polyethylene Terephthalate, is the easiest type of plastic to recycle. It is often used in soda and water bottles, and occasionally food packages. After it is recycled, it becomes bottles and polyester fibers. [1] When you see the number "1" in the symbol, it can be recycled easily, and is usually recycled no matter where you live. Because this is often used for food packaging, remember to always rinse before you recycle! [2]

  2. The recycling symbol with a "2" represents HDPE, which stands for High density Polyethylene. This is also "readily recyclable – Mostly used for packaging detergents, bleach, milk containers, hair care products and motor oil. [It i]s recycled into more bottles or bags." [1] Keep in mind that "containers made from the same plastic type, but with different manufacturing processes may be incompatible for recycling. For instance, #2 milk jugs are blow-molded while #2 margarine tubs are injection molded. A lot of manufacturers recycle blow-molded plastics, but few manufacturers recycle injection molded plastics." [3]

  3. PVC, Polyvinyl Chloride, is used in pipes, toys, packaging, furniture, and many other items. It is incredibly versatile, but also EXTREMELY difficult to recycle. In fact, its production and disposal causes major threats to the environment [1], which you can learn more about here. Most places do not recycle PVC curbside, which has the symbol with the "3." Again, check with your local authorities to confirm which types of plastics are recycled in your area.

  4. Number "4" can be either PEBD or LDPE, which is Low-density Polyethylene. It is recycled in only some places, and is found in wrapping, grocery bags, and sandwich bags. [1]

  5. Recycling of number 5, PP or Polypropylene, relies on local regulations. This type of plastic is most commonly found in "clothing, bottles, tubs and ropes" [1] as well as in yogurt containers [3]. It is recycled into fibers.

  6. PS, or Polystyrene, commonly called styrofoam, is extremely difficult to recycle. Because of its extremely low density it is not cost-effective to recycle and therefore a danger to many ecosystems, but can be reused by the consumer. [1] Read more about its danger, and ways to keep PS out of the waste stream here.

  7. ID code number "7" represents all plastics which do not fit into categories 1-6 or are a mixture of multiple plastics. Because of this, they are generally not recycled. "Avoid it if you can – recyclers generally speaking don’t want it." [1]

Recycling everything correctly and only when you can, reducing your use of non-recyclable plastics, and repurposing all non-recyclable materials you can is a huge step forward to reducing damage to key ecosystems and environments.

Looking Out For San Diego

Help the City of San Diego Stay Clean

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Help the City of San Diego stay clean, and report illegal dumping along with other City problems that you may see using the "Get it Done" App (linked below) [1]:


The art of upcycling

Upcycling means to reuse what would be trash to create something new. One man's trash is another man's treasure!

It can reduce waste and create something new.

Ideas for upcycling:

  • Make an egg carton a place to store your supplies

  • Make a yogurt cup a pot for a flower

  • Make used scratch paper into origami

  • Make paper and a paper towel roll into a microphone

  • Make a cup into a drum

There are so many more things you can create. There are endless possibilities.

Check out this website for more info: