5 Plastics Recycling Resolutions for a Greener New Year

New Year’s resolutions tend to be focused on self-improvement—shedding pounds, abandoning a bad habit, watching less mindless TV. But if you’re looking to improve yourself and the environment this year, recycling more of your everyday plastics is a great place to start.

Like lots of resolutions, knowing exactly how to get started can be tricky. No worries—these five simple plastics recycling resolutions make it easy to keep more of your everyday plastics out of the trash …

1. Resolve to find out what’s collected for recycling in your community.

A young woman holding a recycling box, on her doorstep

This resolution is key to all others. Recycling programs vary widely in the U.S., so it’s important to know exactly what goes in the recycling bin in your community. That way, you can be sure you’re putting the right items in the bin, and you’ll also know whether you’re recycling everything you can. To find out, just search online “recycling” and the name of your community, or visit IWantToBeRecycled.org and enter your zip code.

2. Resolve to collect recyclable plastics throughout your home.

A young girl holding a recycling bin with empty plastic containers. Shallow DOF.

If you already recycle some plastics, you probably focus on the packaging in your kitchen, such as beverage bottles and milk jugs. Think also: yogurt and condiment containers, dish wash liquid bottles, produce packaging, and more (see resolution above). And those shampoo, mouthwash, and detergent bottles found in other parts of your home? They’re made with the same plastics as food packaging—and they’re just as easy to recycle in your curbside bin.

3. Resolve to remember the caps and lids.

A couple recycles plastic bottles in the kitchen.

Thanks to advances in recycling technology, recyclers now want your plastic caps and lids—so remember to put them back on your bottles and containers before you toss them in the bin. They’ll be separated and recycled at the recycling facility, saving lots of valuable plastics from going to waste.

4. Resolve to drop off recyclable plastic bags and wraps at stores.

Blonde mid aged woman putting her shopping bags into car at shopping mall parking lot. She has done some light shopping,mainly food.

Those plastic grocery bags, dry cleaner bags, and product wraps don’t go in the curbside bin—but they still can live on as new products when you recycle them. Just drop them off at one of more than 20,000 participating grocery and retail stores nationwide. Want to find your nearest drop-off location and more information about what bags and wraps are accepted there? Check out PlasticFilmRecycling.org and enter your zip code.

5. Resolve to seek out products made with recycled plastics.

Young woman cutting fruits at bar counter, with coworker using juicer in background. Two female working at juice bar.

Major brand companies have embraced recycled plastics as a go-to material for a wide range of products, from workout gear to cooking tools to home décor. When you seek out these products—which often is as simple as adding the word “recycled” to an online search—you help give valuable plastics another life. Which means that milk jug you recycled just might come back as your next cutting board or outdoor patio chair.

Easy, right? And since plastics recycling resolutions aren’t just about yourself—they’re about keeping the environment healthy for everyone, now and in the future—why not encourage family and friends to resolve to do the same?

Just be careful not to sound too smug …