New Year, New Goals: Three Tips to Become a Better Recycler in 2021

Jan 12, 2021 1:00 PM ET

After a challenging holiday season, a new year is ushering in a welcomed fresh slate. The new year is an opportunity to set clear intentions, fresh habitats, and meaningful goals. Everyone’s goals will look different. Some will focus on healthier living and exercise, and some will endeavor to read more books. And others might have more homebound goals – like being better recyclers in 2021. 

Typically, Americans recycle approximately 69 million tons each year. And nearly 30% of what is sent to recycling centers is contaminated or can’t be recycled – that means that this material will end up in the landfill.
Being a better recycler is a simple and achievable goal.  Here are three tips to help you be a better recycler in 2021.

  1. Set Your Goal. The best intentions have achievable goals and deadlines. So, set a goal to improve your recycling habits at home. Then, determine the metric you’d like to use to measure your goal. For example, do you want to reduce the recycling contamination in your house or increase the amount you’re recycling in general? Be sure to set a specific deadline to achieve your goal, too! 
  2. Understand the Basics. Before you set up your in-home recycling station, it’s best to relearn the basics and make sure you understand what to recycle. Items like papercardboardplastic bottles and jugs, and metal cans are typically recyclable in most areas. It’s equally important that you know what to throw – also known as the items that you can’t recycle. Never put bubble wrap, plastic bags, diapers, electrical cords and devices, foam products, or yard waste into your home recycling bins. Electronics are a great example of things that can be recycled but require special handling and can’t be placed in your recycling bin. 
  3. Get into the Habit. Create a simple kitchen routine for yourself where you check items to determine if an object is recyclable or not. If it’s recyclable, you need to make sure it is empty, clean, and dry before placing it in the bin. Emptying, cleaning, and drying your recyclables only takes a few minutes and a small amount of counter space. 

By resolving to be a better recycler in 2021, we can increase the amount of correctly recycled items and reduce recycling contamination.
Learn more about recycling and how it supports sustainability at