The Green Guide to Recycling

Did you know that the average American produces 1,609 pounds of trash per year? Or that even though the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, we generate 40 percent of the world’s waste? So think twice before you toss that beer can into the trash (no matter how hammered you may be). The recycling industry creates four jobs for every one job in the waste management sector. A national recycling rate of 15 percent would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking over 12 million cars off the road. But what can we toss in those blue bins?


All newspapers, magazines, cardboard, cereal boxes, papers (no need to remove staples, most crayon drawings acceptable).Paper towels used to dry hands after washing, as long as they are not wet enough to soak other paper materials already in recycling bin.Pizza boxes that are not too greasy.Envelopes with plastic windows or bubble wrap lining.

Green Facts:

Every ton of paper products recycled saves 17 trees. Rain forests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute—or twice the size of Rhode Island each week.Packaging material fills up to 1/3 of an average landfill.


All plastic items, including Styrofoam, which have the triangular recycling mark, regardless of what the number in the middle is.Plastic bags and other plastic “film,” such as the shrinkwrap that comes on many products.All fluid-containing cartons (no need to rinse!).

Green Facts:

Each 1-liter plastic bottle takes 3.4 megajoules to make, meaning a barrel of oil can only power the production of roughly 1,765 plastic bottles.The water used in the production of a plastic bottle is twice the amount of what it can contain.Scientists found that plastic bottles break down much faster than originally expected when they are in sea water—drastically increasing the amount of toxic polymers that are cancerous and endangering many species.Plastic bags that end up in the ocean kill over one million sea creatures annually.Each ton of plastic shopping bags recycled saves energy equivalent to 11 barrels of oil.Recycling plastic bags saves twice the energy that would be used to incinerate it.


All aluminum cans (even if some liquid residue is left over).Aluminum foil.All glass.

Green Facts:

The amount of foil used to wrap the Hershey’s Kisses produced every day could cover almost 40 football fields.Recycling an aluminum can uses 5 percent of the energy used in making a new one.Recycling a can saves enough energy to run an average television for 3 hours.For each ton of glass produced, 385 pounds of waste is created in the mining and transporting process.Each glass bottle takes over 4,000 years to degrade.

Things that students CAN recycle, just not in the dormitory bins

(take them to the Smith Campus Center at Pomona):Printer cartridges, electronic waste (broken computer/electronics parts), old cell phones, BRITA filters, CDs, DVDs, packing materials, used/broken fluorescent light bulbs, and batteries.

Items you should NOT recycle:

Waxy paper (paper with oil crayon markings), paint containers, heavily food-contaminated or greasy containers

Items you should NOT discard!

(Bring them to special hazardous waste dump sites on the campuses.)All medicines, oils, paint, large electronics

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