Super Bowl LIV just ended and all eyes were on the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. The game was estimated to generate 40 tons of trash and the stadium served beer in 50,000 recyclable aluminum cups, in an effort to reduce the amount of waste this year. But this estimate didn’t include the incredible amount of waste produced at events and homes across the country.

There is no doubt fans all over the country hosted viewing parties to cheer on their team. According to a new survey released by Republic Services, 88% of Americans agree recycling is important but 41% fail to do so properly and let’s be honest, we’ve all failed at getting it right at times. Recycling Simplified shared some easy tips with me for game-day items that should be recycled to avoid excess trash. Here they are combined with some the great resources from One Green Planet:

1. Aluminum Cans

Beer, soda, seltzers… all cans are recyclable! Aluminum is forever recyclable and provides unrivaled benefits for sustainability. One recycled can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours (that’s an entire game!). The good news is that aluminum can be recycled an infinite number of times and nearly 75% of all aluminum produced on Earth is still being used. Each year about 5 million tons of aluminum are recycled in the U.S. and Canada, and recycling aluminum takes 95% less energy than making new cans from raw materials.

2. Plastic Bottles

Americans buy 50 billion plastic bottles of water a year, yet only one of every four is recycled. This can be avoided by opting out of using any type of single-use plastic cups or bottles. When left with no option, repurpose your plastic in creative ways and if you happen to host a large event or party you can recycle hundreds of plastic bottles with one project!

3. Food Boxes and Waste

While pizza boxes are made of recyclable cardboard, but something to keep in mind is when once a box is soiled with grease, it’s not recyclable. Only clean cardboard can be made into new paper, and that dirty box creates a larger problem when placed in recycling bins because it can contaminate clean recyclables. Some packages are wrapped in a lot of bubble wrap, plastic air bags, cellophane, and foam. However, none of these materials can go in your recycle bin. The best thing to do? Reuse them for your own holiday shipping needs. You can also share them with others who are shipping packages, or maybe your company mailroom can reuse them. Don’t forget you can also reduce waste by using leftovers to create new dishes and using multi-functional ingredients.

4. Paper Plates and Napkins

Like boxes, these items are not recyclable when soiled with food and liquid. Instead, opt for reusable or biodegradable disposable serving ware. Here’s a great guide on how to host eco-friendly events!

5. Plastic Utensils

Unfortunately, not everything made of plastic is recyclable, and recycling plastic utensils is completely dependent on your local facility, so check with your service provider. Again, it’s best to completely avoid using such types of plastic and go for reusable. You can also consider serving meals and snacks that require few utensils.

Three Simple Recycling Rules to Remember:

Most importantly, all items headed to recycling bins must be empty, clean and dry, to avoid contaminating an entire truckload, which means none of it gets recycled. It’s easy to become a better recycler by following three simple rules:

  • Know What to Throw: Remember the three primary categories of recyclables: paper and cardboard, metal and aluminum cans, and plastic bottles and jugs.
  • Empty. Clean. Dry:  Don’t allow more than one teaspoon of liquid to remain in a recyclable container. When recyclables are compressed in the truck, leftover food or liquid can ruin perfectly good recyclables.
  • Don’t Bag It: Never bag or bundle your recyclables. Items should be placed in the container individually.

How to Avoid Unnecessary Waste in Your Daily Lives

Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, 78 percent of which is not reclaimed or recycled. Around  8.8 million tons of plastic get dumped into the oceans every year! 700 marine animals are faced with extinction due to the threat that plastic poses to them in the form of entanglement, pollution, and ingestion. 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. By 2050, 99 percent of all seabird species will have ingested plastic waste. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and if things go on business as usual, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. 

Many daily-use products contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of teabags, cotton swabs, laundry, contact lenses, glitter, sanitary pads, and sheet masks pollute our oceans, so you can make more informed buying decisions going forward. There are numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads

You can also repurpose or recycle old mattresses, leather, chairs, newspapers, clothes, shoes, wrapping paper, gadgets, garden tools, drawers and more to avoid sending them to the landfill. In fact, there are items you didn’t know you can reuse over and over again and those that you can recycle but probably didn’t think you could! Even if you are left with no option, you can repurpose plastic in creative ways.

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