Hey, Shannon here! I support a guy that works at a recycling center in Chester and we spend a lot of time going through recyclables. I’ve been thinking a lot about recycling lately and wanted to pass on a few insider tips. 

Reduce, reuse, recycle. We hear this slogan everywhere, but how do you really go green? 

Surprisingly, recycling is just only one part of the equation when devoting yourself to being environmentally conscious. Filling up that green can is great, but knowing how to fill it makes all the difference. 


Ever feel like you’re drowning in junk mail? I know I do. Recycling paper is an awesome way to get rid of all those offers for cable upgrades and cheaper car insurance. If you are one of those people however who sees value in subscribing to an identity protection plan, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re putting into your bin and what condition it’s in. Be sure to rip up (or shred) any correspondence containing your personal information or bank account numbers. Better yet, go digital and eliminate the possibility of such information falling into the wrong hands. 


You would be surprised at how many shoes and articles of clothing we see going down the conveyor belt everyday. Even if your unwanted socks, flip flops, tshirts and undergarments are made of sustainable materials, once they get to the recycling plant, ultimately, they will end up in a landfill. Same goes for children’s toys and anything that plugs into the wall or can be described as an accessory to an electronic device. There are plenty of organizations that would be happy to take these items off your hands. 


Recycling plastics has gotten so much easier in recent years. Gone are the days of searching for the little number 1 on the bottom of your containers. But as you are getting ready to throw your frozen dinner trays, yogurt cups, and fruit containers in your bin, ask yourself the following: how would this smell after sitting for a week in the sun? A little rinsing of food particles goes a long way in making the person sorting your recycling at little happier (and less grossed out) during shifts that last over 10 hours every day. 

Despite the increase in the kinds of things that are recyclable, there are still many items that are just better off in the trash. Personal hygiene items, incontinence supplies, and different forms of birth control cannot be recycled. Period. 

Yard waste, building materials, knives, or basically anything sharp that you wouldn’t want your 5 year old to handle also do not belong in your recycling bin. Even with gloves on, we sort everything that comes into the plant by hand. Sharp things are no one’s friend. 

Finally, though there are lots of stores with specific receptacles for recycling plastic bags, your personal recycling bin is not one of them. Much of the trash that is thrown away at the recycling plant falls into this category. If you don’t have a store that recycles plastic shopping bags near by, reuse them! This strategy is even better from an environmental perspective. 

TFC, the company that handles all of the recycled material for the entire state of Virginia, hires many people in our community who experience disabilities. We love supporting our folks that work there. And we love you for recycling since it keeps them (and in a way, us) in business. Remember these tips and we will all be on our way to a happier, safer planet for years to come.  Thanks for reading!