Toss Those Halloween Candy Wrappers

halloween candy

Halloween is fast approaching, and as you work your way through the never-ending supply of candy, remember that candy wrappers are not recyclable. They need to be thrown in the trash.

Candy wrappers can’t be recycled because they are made of a mix of materials — often a combination of paper, plastic and aluminum — that are difficult and expensive to separate.

However, if you’re organizing a big halloween party, and there’s going to be a ton of candy, consider ordering a TerraCycle Candy and Snack Wrappers Zero Waste Box. This way the wrappers can be mailed in to be recycled through TerraCycle’s special program.

How to Fix a Zipper (Video)

From stuck zippers to zippers that just won’t stay zipped, we’ve all had our share of zipper troubles. Thankfully, most zipper problems are a quick fix! Avoid replacing a faulty zipper using these easy zipper hacks.

Food Scraps Don’t Belong in the Recycling

dirty food containers

Is your jar half-full of salsa? Does your can still have food in it? Don’t toss them in the recycling! Food scraps contaminate the recycling process.

When food scraps get into your recycling, they make recyclables less clean and less valuable. Food can get stuck in sorting equipment, forcing workers to stop the sorting line to clean it up. Food can also seep into paper products, making the fibers too weak to be recycled — liquids, sticky residue and leftover grease, especially.

Long story short: A batch of food-contaminated recycling can quickly end up in the landfill.

What can you do? Scrape out and rinse any containers that once held food. If it’s something really sticky or oily, such as nut butter, honey or mayonnaise, go ahead and give the container a quick scrub.

Afterwards, if a container is really wet, try to let it dry before tossing it in with other recyclables. That way, any paper that’s being recycled will stay dry, too.

Your Classic Tailgating Cup Is Not Recyclable

solo cups

No one can deny that the red Solo cup is a cultural icon: it makes us think of tailgating, BBQs, college parties and more recently, Toby Keith’s hugely popular song. However, before you fill one up this season, keep in mind that the rigid plastic #6 cup is not recyclable curbside. And when thrown away, it doesn’t take a quick 14 years to decompose, as Keith’s lyrics suggest. Estimates range closer to 450 years.

That’s a long time, especially if you consider that, according to EarthDay.org, 500 billion disposable cups are consumed every year. They’re one of the contributors to the 8 million metric tons of plastic that pours into our oceans every year. Plastic is a problem that isn’t going away on its own.

So what can you use instead of disposable cups? Switch to reusable! If you’re not in charge of party planning, just BYO reusable cup! Reusable plastic or aluminum work well — you can use a spare thermos, water bottle or even a glass mason jar.

If you’re party planning and want traditional red cups, you can check out these reusable ones from Red Cup Living. Another option: the University of Colorado Boulder just released reusable aluminum cups for their new football season. The aluminum cups are difficult to break, keep your drink cold longer, and are dishwasher-friendly. They’re also the right size for beer pong.

If you’re stuck on disposable, look for a cup made from plastic #1, which is recyclable in most places. Avoid plastic cups labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” — these plastics are not recyclable, and recyclable plastic is better for the environment.

That said, if your tailgating party just won’t be the same without the classic Solo cups, reuse them as much as you can, and then ship them — free of charge — to TerraCycle’s recycling program.

Liquids Are a Mess for Recycling

half-filled bottles

We’ve all seen people toss half-full bottles of soda into recycling bins, but is this really OK? No. Liquids are bad for the recycling process because most recyclables end up mixing together. When liquids come into contact with paper products, the paper fibers become damaged and impossible to recycle. Liquids also make recycling loads heavier and more expensive to haul, and they create big messes when they spill on the sorting line.

So what should you do? Dump out any liquids from your containers before you recycle them. If a container is really wet, try to let it dry before tossing it in with other recyclables. That way, any paper that’s being recycled will stay dry, too.

6 Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste for Climate Week

food in fridge

September 23-29 is Climate Week NYC, a series of events run in coordination with the UN and the City of New York that showcase actions people are taking around the world to reduce our impact on the climate and foster discussion on how we can do more.

Want to Take Action?

If you want to join the effort to take action on climate, food waste is a great place to start. In the U.S., 40% of food goes to waste, which accounts for 16% of our total methane emissions. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that has more than 25 times the environmental impact that carbon dioxide has.

We can lower our methane emissions and reduce our climate impact by cutting back on food waste.

How to Reduce Your Food Waste

Try out these 6 tips to put a dent in how much food you waste:

1. Shop smart. Only buy what you know you’ll use. Create a meal plan for the week and build a shopping list around that meal plan. Try using this meal planner from Eureka Recycling, or the EPA’s smart shopping list (PDF).

2. Store food strategically. Fasten a produce storage guide to your fridge door, such as this one from the EPA (PDF), so you know which foods keep best inside or outside the fridge.

Also, learn about where food should be stored within your fridge. Your shelves, drawers and doors are designed to hold different types of foods. Check out the NRDC’s Refrigerator Demystified infographic (PDF).

3. Eat food strategically. All produce has a varying shelf life. Try labeling your food to remind yourself which items need to be eaten first (these PDF signs from the EPA are handy), and freeze food that’s about to go bad so you can use it in the future.

Still having trouble eating food in time? Try the USDA’s FoodKeeper application for Apple and Android devices. The app provides expert-backed advice for storing and eating more than 400 foods and drinks, and can give you reminders to use items before they go bad.

4. Prepare food in advance. When you get home from the store, rinse and chop your produce so that snacking and meal prep is easier during the week. That way you’ll be more likely to follow through on making the meals you shopped for.

5. In California, best-by dates indicate freshness, not safety. Use-by dates indicate food safety. That means you can still eat food after its best-by date, but not after its use-by date. To learn more about how long you can keep food, visit StillTasty.com or EatByDate.com.

6. Have a fridge full of random items? Use an online tool to help you find recipes for them, such as Supercook or MyFridgeFood.

Torn Jeans? Here’s an Easy Way to Fix Them (Video)

Wear your favorite jeans for long enough and eventually they’ll tear. Better than throwing them away and buying a new favorite, you can fix them!

With an inside patch for stability and some jean-colored thread, your favorite denim will be back in action. Watch this video to see how:

You can also start fixing your tear by applying an iron-on patch, as this second video demonstrates:

Jeans can last a long time, so fixing a tear can give them a much longer life. And not only will it keep them out of the landfill, it will also save you money.

How to Dispose of Lunchables

lunchables

Lunchables are easy to pack for kids when you’re short on time, but how do you dispose of the packaging when you’re done?

The cardboard sleeve goes in the recycling. The plastic wrap and plastic container go in the trash. They are not recyclable.

If you want to cut back on the waste, try making your own “Lunchables” at home. You’ll save money, too. Check out the Squawkfox homemade lunch experiment to learn more.

Back to School This Fall? Here’s How to Dispose of Drink Pouches

drink pouches

If you’re sending kids back to school this fall, chances are you’ll be packing some snacks and lunches. If you pack any drink pouches, such as Capri Sun, Tropicana or Honest Kids pouches, make sure they get tossed in the trash. Drink pouches are not recyclable.

Want to go the extra mile? Sign up for TerraCycle’s Drink Pouch Mail-In Recycling Program, or ask your kid’s school to start a collection for it. That way you can mail in empty pouches to be recycled through their special program.

Even better, invest in a reusable drink container for your kid to take to school, and fill it from a larger container of juice at home. You’ll quickly save money and reduce waste at the same time.

How to Host a Clothing Swap (Video)

clothing

What if you could get a wardrobe refresh without ever hitting the mall or shopping online? It turns out you can.

Clothing swaps are a fun way to trade clothes with friends and family. You can declutter while hanging out with people you care about, and breathe some new life into your closet without spending any money. Check out this video from New Dream to find out how clothing swaps work and get some tips for hosting your own.