I brought my cardboard to recycling last week and was shocked to see what someone had put in the bin – used pizza boxes. Greasy cardboard cannot be recycled. It is wonderful that people want to recycle, but they need to know what can be recycled. Greasy cardboard should be put in the trash. ~Not So Happy Recycler

Dear Not So Happy Recycler,

You are absolutely correct. Greasy cardboard, of any kind, must not be recycled. It only takes one greasy item to contaminate an entire batch. Cleanliness is not only important when recycling cardboard, but it is critical for everything that goes to recycling so that contamination doesn’t happen. When recycling cardboard boxes don’t forget to remove any packing materials, such as plastic, foam or Styrofoam peanuts. You do not need to flatten the boxes before recycling. Recycling cardboard important because it saves energy and it takes up so much space in the landfill. (Cardboard is the single largest component of municipal solid waste around the world.) To make new boxes out of recycled cardboard requires only 75% of the energy used to make new cardboard. Definitely better for our environment.

When I get a package that has Styrofoam peanuts in it, I put this packing material in a bag to save it. I reuse the Styrofoam peanuts when I send a package out. What’s even better is I read about a company that makes popcorn to use as packing material. Individuals can also use popcorn as packing material. Using a hot air popper is recommended because it doesn’t use oil and the popcorn will be clean. ~Happy Recycler

Dear Happy Recycler,

I’m happy to hear that you are reusing the Styrofoam peanuts. Your suggestion to use air-popped popcorn as packing material is a great idea. If you find that you have more Styrofoam peanuts than you can use, they can be taken to PostNet on US 219 North. They reuse them for the packages they ship. They also accept plastic pillows and bubble wrap. The environment benefits from using as few of these particular contaminants as possible. Styrofoam is one of the worst offenders. Because of its light weight, it is often blown by the wind into bodies of water and into the soil causing problems for both the marine and wildlife. It doesn’t ever decompose. It stays in the environment for hundreds of thousands of years and it crumbles easily into small pieces, making it more likely that birds and fish will eat it. Three cheers for Maine and Maryland that have banned the use of Styrofoam. I hope West Virginia will consider banning it soon.