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8 Work from Home Wish-Cycling Slips (and How to Stop Them)

May 20, 2020

Wish-cycling is a common side effect of suddenly working from home. Thanks to COVID-19, the infrastructure of your office recycling program is gone and with it, the structure that kept you recycling right. Now your green team lives inside your computer!

Along with the nation-wide lockdowns you’ve had to adjust to life inside. For some, the arrival of SARS-CoV-2 has meant lost work or the need to find second, and third jobs. Then there are those who are working more than ever before, as demand for some services reach record highs.

Coronavirus has had a catastrophic impact on the economy. Amidst limited movement, the threat of debilitating illness, and kids at home – the last thing on your mind has been keeping your recycling in order and inspiring others to do the same. But wish-cycling still carries a cost.

Now that the dust has settled a little, here are 8 materials you might be trying to recycle incorrectly, along with some tips on how to make your new home office recycling easier.

Browse these to find out: Are you recycling or wish cycling?

#1: Trying to Recycle Plastic Take-Away Containers

One of the first working from home tips you hear about is – don’t cook! So while everyone at home is working and doing their part to help small businesses, you’re ordering take-out. A lot.

And where do those flimsy plastic containers end up? Your recycling bin. It’s time to stop wish-cycling your take-away containers.

Paper bags with take away food and coffee cups containers. Lunch box

Throw it away if:

  • There’s food grease on it
  • The plastic is flimsy and easily crushed
  • It’s stiff black plastic

If your food comes in aluminum foil containers,clam-shell plastic or paper bags – clean it and recycle it for best results. Remember, if in doubt, throw it out!

#2: Recycling All Paper Sources, Including Shreds

You’re at home, working and printing documents like crazy. Your kids are drawing on everything they can get their hands on. You’re unpacking delivery paper every other day.

You may believe that all paper is recyclable, but you’re wrong! The most common recycling mistakes almost always involve paper products.

Throw it away if:

Pay attention to paper recycling and COVID-19 exposure. If you know a paper source has been exposed to the virus, classify it as medical waste and dispose of it.

#3: Being Too Exhausted to Clean Your Recycling

There are pros and cons of working at home, but whether your workload is high or not – you’re going to be exhausted. The stress of a pandemic, schools closing, and society changing is real.

So you might be skipping the rinsing process.

The thing is, there’s no secret team of people at the recycling plant who are washing out your mayonnaise jars for you. Contaminated recycling is wish-cycling.

  •  Shake, rinse and remove all residue (lids too!)

To make this easier, consider running a load of recyclables through your dishwasher, or leaving them to soak in batches. Designate an hour on a specific day during your week.

#4: Recycling Latex Gloves and Other Personal Protective Gear

Social distancing and COVID-19 means that when you do leave your home, you’ll be wearing personal protective gear made of all sorts of materials.

These often become wish-cycle targets. It seems like such a shame to continually throw away masks, gloves, sanitizers and other types of PPE. But these can’t be recycled.

  •  All PPE is classified as medical waste

No matter your work from home policy, find out how to correctly dispose of your PPE and do it in a way that protects yourself, your family and the municipal waste workers in your neighborhood. To reduce waste, invest in washable cloth masks and gloves.

#5: Recycling Plastic Bags Now That Reusable Bags are Banned

Reusable, sustainable bags have been banned in many States because of Coronavirus. Plastic bag bans have been eased and they’re suddenly everywhere again. Especially in recycling!

As you work from home, don’t try to perform wish recycling miracles on plastic bags. They still gum up machines and cause a lot of damage. They can’t be recycled.

Throw it away if:

These recycling tips during COVID-19 are still relevant once the restrictions ease. Always keep single-use plastic bags out of your recycling bin. Find other uses for them to lengthen their lifespan.

#6: Trying to Recycle Delivery Styrofoam and Bubble Wrap

In an attempt to social distance you’ve been ordering a lot of things online. This means deliveries and the excessive packaging that deliveries usually arrive in.

What do you do with the Styrofoam and bubble wrap? You forget your wish-cycling facts and try to recycle them. The whole delivery box ends up in your recycling bin.

Throw it away if:

One of the top recycling mistakes people make during COVID-19, is that they throw entire boxes (with inserts) in their recycling. Instead, leave all boxes outside and sort them on a designated day.

#7: Relying on The Recycling Symbol as a Guide

You’re at home, balancing an insane schedule while your family mills around the house constantly distracting you. So, you decide to recycle everything with the recycling symbol on it. Easy!
These numbers are misleading. Those coffee cups, bags and plastic forks you used at lunch may have a recycling symbol, but they aren’t accepted for recycling anywhere. It is false marketing.

Throw it away if:

Knowing how to avoid wishcycling sometimes means using tech to help you do it. You can’t rely on a system that is so poorly regulated, but you can rely on us.

#8: Recycling Paper Towels With Kid and Pet Spills

Trying to stay green while navigating a house full of frustrated, bored kids and pets, is a tall order. Then you still have to clean up after everyone! Paper towels are an unsung hero.

That’s why they end up in your recycling bin. As a paper product maybe they are recyclable, you wish! These products are not recyclable, especially when they’ve been used.

Throw it away if:

Prevent wishful recycling in your home by adopting a ‘no tissue-paper in the recycling policy.’ That way you make sure that your recycling is clean, and won’t contaminate other materials that can be reused and converted into new products.

We hope that these recycling-based working from home tips will come in handy. Print them out, or create a poster to stick on your fridge as a reminder.
COVID-19 has brought about some truly difficult times, but you’re handling them like a pro! As an advocate for your recycling program at work, it’s good to continue your important green mission at home during this time. After all, waste and recycling aren’t going anywhere.
Take note of these 8 common wish-cycling mistakes and send them to your green team for syndication. Come up with strategies to make recycling at home quick and easy, together.

How has COVID-19 changed your recycling habits? Tell us below.

Have ideas you want to pitch or want to write for Recycle Coach? Email us at partnerships@recyclecoach.com.

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