It's no secret in this office that I am a sustainable-living buff. I even host a podcast on the subject. Needless to say, I couldn't resist writing an article to celebrate National Recycling Day.

What's the deal with plastic bags and why do they suck?

The average life span of a plastic bag is only 12 minutes and only one in 200 bags are recycled. This is because you can't recycle plastic bags at home, as they melt in most sorting machines.

If you want to recycle your plastic bag, then take them to the entrance of most grocery stores or drop them off at a Target.

Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. 

As for Ziplocs, these fall into the "film" category and can be recycled alongside your plastic shopping bags.

Recycling electronics

It's a common misconception that electronics can be recycled at home. Actually, the lithium ion batteries in smartphones and other electronics can explode and catch fire during standard sorting.

Best Buy collects cords, batteries and just about any other household electronic at their in-store kiosk. If you go here, you can also do all of your drop-offs in one place because they accept plastic bags, too.

Cleaning out recyclables 

This isn't often talked about, but if you toss your tomato soup can or your used microwave-meal tray without rinsing them out, they wont get recycled. Despite your intentions, this stuff just gets sent to landfill because that yogurt cup is going to mold real quick.

Moral of the story, avoid buying plastic. Plastic was designed to last forever and the Earth doesn't like that too much. While plastic can only be recycled two or three times before sitting in landfill, things like glass and metal can be recycled over and over again.

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