America Recycles Day: Guide to Recycling in Cedar Rapids and Linn County

“Recycling is good for our planet because it keeps things clean. And did you know that some old bottles and milk jugs we use can be turned into other things like plates and cups? Isn’t that so cool?!”

Kids really say the darnedest things, am I right? The fact that my six year old thinks recycling is so cool makes her one of the best little environmentalists that I know.

I have always tried to recycle as much as I can. Since I’ve had kids, it has changed my entire perspective of the world we live in. I want this world to be a better, cleaner, and more abundant place for my kids and their kids. Because of that, this year we will be participating in America Recycles Day.

America Recycles Day: Guide to Recycling in Cedar Rapids and Linn County

Tomorrow, November 15th, all across America there will be various recycling events as part of the “Keep America Beautiful” Program. Anyone who participates in America Recycles Day pledges to learn what materials can be collected for recycling in their community, reduce their waste, recycle more, and encourage at least one other person to take part in the pledge too.

But life gets busy. And recycling can be more complicated than you would think. It’s not always convenient to look up what is accepted and what’s not. We want to make it easy for you with this guide to reduce your waste and overall usage in the first place.

Lucky for all of us in the Cedar Rapids area and Linn county, we don’t have to focus on recycling for only one day of the year! Here we have several options for recycling, composting, and safely disposing of almost everything. When you put things in recycling that aren’t actually recyclable, that can cause equipment damage and inefficiency. I bet you’d also be surprised to know that many items you’ve likely been throwing away for years are actually recyclable!

For easy and efficient curbside recycling in Cedar Rapids, the Curby is the perfect tool to get the job done! The Curby is a large blue cart where recyclable items can be co-mingled. This means you can place several different materials in the Curby without having to sort it. The following materials can be put in the Curby:

Paper:

newspapers, magazines, phone books, food and cereal boxes, office paper (you don’t even have to remove staples or paper clips!), cardboard, and junk mail.

Metal:

tin cans, tin foil, pie plates, and aluminum cans.

Plastic containers:

water bottles, shampoo bottles, milk jugs, other plastic containers numbered 1-7.

Things that should not be placed in your Curby include:

items that are dirty or contain food remnants, rigid plastic, aluminum foil or pans, styrofoam, wrapping paper, tissue paper, coat hangers, large metal objects, plastic bags, and film plastic such as Saran Wrap or food wrappers. Clear and colored glass CAN also be recycled but it MUST be in a separate container.

Other recyclable items accepted at the Linn County Waste Agency drop off sites:

cardboard, paper, antifreeze, electronics, light bulbs, batteries, scrap metal, motor oil and filters, plastic containers, phone books, and more!

The more I started looking into recycling, the more I found myself surprised with the whole system. For instance, a recycle symbol does not guarantee an item is recyclable. The symbol simply indicates the type of plastic or material used to make the product. For example, most styrofoam cups have a number 6. However, there is no market for recycling this type of plastic in Linn county. Since there is no demand in the area for that product, it can’t be recycled here.

So what happens if you try to recycle something that is not recyclable?

You probably, like me, think it’s no big deal, right? Unfortunately, recycling processing centers can reject whole loads that contain non-accepted items. You know that pizza box you tossed in the recycle bin? It just contaminated the entire load, which means it will now go to the landfill for disposal. This is why it’s vital to educate yourself, and others, about what items can be recycled.

Make sure your recycling and waste reduction efforts can truly make a difference. What kind of action will you take? Commit to reduce waste, reuse, recycle, and buy recycled!

Even though my kids are young, they’re not too young to learn how to leave a positive impact on the world. My six year old frequently tells her younger siblings that their scraps of paper or the toilet paper rolls don’t go in the garbage! I know it’s because she’s seen and heard me follow through on my pledge every day for America Recycles Day. Small changes can lead to making a big impact.

What will you do today to make a difference for tomorrow?

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Katie is a born and raised Iowa Hawkeye who moved from a small town to Iowa City to attend college at the University of Iowa. There she met her husband, Jordan, while they were both active leadership members in Dance Marathon. Once they graduated, they got married and planted roots in Cedar Rapids. Together they are raising the trifecta of three little ones: Everly (5), Elsie (3), and Emmett (1). They keep her busy by constantly going from one activity and snack to the next! Katie is a firm believer that leggings are real pants and popcorn with M&Ms is its own food category. When she has a spare minute, she documents her mamahood journey, family activities, DIY crafts, and favorite products over on her personal blog Mama E Plus Three.