How to Recycle the Packaging of Your Latest Purchase

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What did you do with the packaging of the last item you purchased? Did it end up in the trash?

Garbage, or at least the way we think of garbage, is a product of the modern age. Largely a result of mass production, industrialization and consumption, the sheer volume of garbage the U.S. population produces is endangering the world we live in. Even though the U.S. only contains 4% of the world’s population, we produce the most garbage.

To answer the question of why, we don’t need to look any further than mass production and consumerism. Think of how many products you’ve bought in the past year, or even week, that came wrapped in plastic or cardboard. Cold cuts, a new laptop, a book from Amazon: all of these things come in packaging that can either clog the world’s landfills or be reborn in another form.

So what can you do to make sure the latter happens?

Cardboard recycling is an easy place to start. Pretty much any paper or cardboard packaging material can be thrown in your cardboard recycling bin and accepted by recycling services or waste removal companies. Recycle old pizza boxes or the cardboard backing to the package your new headphones came in.

Cardboard recycling doesn’t even take up a lot of space since most of it is flat. We could save as many as 25 million trees if each American recycled only a tenth of their newspapers. Imagine what we could do if everyone was recycling cardboard packaging too!

You can also recycle most of the plastic packaging you come across. Many shipping companies have switched from Styrofoam peanuts to sheets of inflated plastic that can be emptied of air and recycled along with plastic shopping bags. Plastic containers from take-out food or deli meats can be reused for storage or recycled as well.

Recycling plastic can be a little more complex from region to region, so check with your local recycling center to see what other plastic packaging components you can recycle. Research more like this:

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