Do you accept paper grocery bags at the Recycling Center in Ronceverte? ~Prefers Paper

Dear Prefers Paper,

Yes, the Recycling Center in Ronceverte accepts these bags. Brown paper bags are recycled with cardboard. White paper bags are recycled with white/office paper. Plastic bags can be put in the recycling bins at Kroger or Walmart. Have you considered taking your own bags when shopping, especially at the grocery store? Many sizes and shapes are available that are environmentally friendly. It takes a while to get into the habit of taking your own bags, but it is worth the effort.

Is the Greenbrier Valley Solid Waste Company part of the Greenbrier County Solid Waste Authority? Their names are so similar. I thought they were the same until a friend said they were not. ~Confused

Dear Confused,

Your friend is correct, although the two are often confused. The Greenbrier VALLEY Solid Waste Company, which is the trash hauler for Greenbrier County, is a privately-owned business. The Greenbrier COUNTY Solid Waste Authority is an agency of the state of WV, governed by a Board of Directors. The Board meets every third Tuesday at the Recycling Center in Ronceverte and welcomes guests.

I have been recycling my office paper, magazines and newspapers. Are there any types of paper that cannot be recycled? ~Paper Recycler

Dear Paper Recycler,

Thanks for asking. Yes, some paper cannot be recycled. Any kind of paper, whether white, colored, magazine or newspaper, cannot be recycled if it is not dry and clean. Grease and food will not mix with the water needed to break down the paper into fibers. If paper that is greasy, or has food on it, is put in with clean paper, the whole batch is contaminated and cannot be used for recycling. Also, tissue paper and paper towels are not currently recyclable.

Is tissue paper recyclable? ~Crafter

Dear Crafter,

No, tissue paper is not recyclable for two primary reasons. First, because it has a lower fiber content, tissue paper is harder to recycle. Second, most of today’s tissue paper has already been made from recycled paper, so it can’t be recycled again. Its short fibers make good compost as it decomposes quickly. As you probably know, there are many craft items that can be made with the many colors of tissue paper.

What are “single-use” products? Why are they considered bad for the environment? ~Questioning

Dear Questioning,

Single-use products are those products that are used one time, usually for only minutes. Yet, their impact on the environment can last thousands of years. Plastic bags, bottles for water, plastic straws, paper towels and napkins, and Styrofoam coffee cups are some of the worst of these items. Awareness of the potential harm these single-use products are to our environment has led businesses like Hyatt Hotels, McDonalds in the U.K. and Ireland, as well as Starbucks to go plastic-straw-free by 2020. These actions alone will keep one billion plastic straws per year out of the environment. We can all take a few simple steps to decrease the use of single-use products by carrying reusable water bottles, coffee cups and straws.

What about paper towels? Do they compost? Can they be recycled? If so, how clean must they be? ~Recycler

Dear Recycler,

Like tissue paper, most paper towels are made from recycled paper. Thus, they have fibers that are too short to be recycled again. However, these short fibers make paper towels a great candidate for the compost pile. Just be sure there is no grease or chemicals on them. As a single-use product, paper towels most often end up in the trash and eventually in the landfill. Microfiber cloths or cloth rags from your ragbag are excellent alternatives to paper towels. These cloths can be used for multiple household tasks and tossed into the washing machine. They can be reused many times. If you do purchase paper towels, be sure they are made out of recycled paper. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.” When purchasing any paper products, it is recommended that you purchase ones that are whitened without chlorine bleach or are unbleached. The chlorine used to bleach paper products is harmful to the environment and can be detrimental to human health. According to the San Mateo County RecycleWorks, “The bleaching of paper, whether virgin or recycled, is the leading cause of toxic water pollution in the U.S.”

I receive so many catalogs for products in which I have no interest. I was told that a web site existed that could stop these catalogs from coming. Do you know the name of the website? ~Too Many Catalogs

Dear Too Many Catalogs,

Yes, there is such a website. It is They will help you “reduce unwanted mail, opt-out of catalogs, and remove your name from mailing lists.” It’s simple and free and will help you stop waste, reduce clutter and save natural resources. I have eliminated many catalogs using this website and highly recommend it.

What is made from recycled paper? Is it worth taking the time to separate it into white paper, colored paper, newspapers and magazines? ~Short on Time

Dear Short on Time,

Absolutely, it is worth the time it takes to sort recyclable white and colored paper, magazines, and newspaper. According to Earth911, the number of products made from recycled paper have increased rapidly because of concerns over the environment. All these items can be used for different products, if they are sorted. Products made from recycled office paper vary from toilet paper and paper towels to greeting cards, printer/copy paper, egg cartons, and grocery bags. Recycled magazine paper may be used to construct decorative items, such as handbags, vases, and jewelry. Recycled newspapers are made into newspapers and tissue paper. According to the San Mateo County RecycleWorks, “Each 20 cases of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 390 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, and 4,100 kwh of energy. It also eliminates 60 pounds of air-polluting emissions and saves 8 cubic feet of landfill space.”