It’s that time again. Spring! And with spring brings spring cleaning. But WAIT! Before you place all those unwanted items at the curb, is that the best place for them?
Great news: we have answers and a great tool that can help. The Keep Tennessee Beautiful app helps you make the most of your clean-up and recycling efforts by hooking you up with everything from a list of places to take those mystery items (hi there, batteries) to quick links to the Litter Hotline, upcoming events, how to volunteer and more!
We encourage you to download the app before you start your spring cleaning so you can get your game plan together. After all, you need to know what you can do with all that stuff you don’t want or need! Let’s make sure it doesn’t unintentionally add to litter on our roads and waterways.
While you’re waiting for it to download, let’s go through some basics to get you started!
What to recycle in your bin:
There are some easy rules to follow for recycling in your home recycling bin: Keep it clean, keep it separated, keep it real. Here’s what that means.
Paper and cardboard can be recycled as long as they are clean. That means your Amazon box is probably good, but that pizza box with all the grease – that’s a hard no for recycling (don’t worry, we have a solution). Gift wrap that isn’t just paper isn’t recyclable. You can check this by trying to crumple it, real paper will crumble into a ball and stay that way. That can go in the recycling bin. If it won’t or it has glitter or foil, it needs to go in the trash can.
Glass, plastics, aluminum soda cans, soup cans and foil can be recycled in some areas, but you need to check with your recycling company and see what they accept and what they don’t, as not all recycling centers are the same. Whatever you are able to recycle, please make sure you clean them before putting them in your recycling bin. And please be sure not to put your recycling in a plastic bag.
The big, the bad and the hazardous:
E-waste, like batteries and electronics (like laptops and phones), larger items that can’t be donated (like mattresses or broken appliances), paint, used oil, and pesticides are all hazardous and must never be put out for regular trash service. They require special handling and need to be disposed of at a hazardous waste disposal center or at a free disposal drop-off day.
Used tires, once their potential for tire swings is gone, can be delivered to specific waste tire collection sites (you can find the list here). Every county is required to have a spot for you to take your used tires.
Check the app or here for a facility closest to you and remember to check with them to find out what they will accept.
Let’s keep the toxic parts of these things out of our landfills!
Can it be reused?
You can’t recycle clothes or furniture, but you can donate it to people in need. Reach out to your local thrift stores or charity shops to see what they accept (like those old pots and pans) and what they can’t (like car seats and playpens) so you are prepared before you head out. Reusing is a great way to keep these items out of landfills and in hands that may need them.
Is the trash can the only place for food?
The earth has been recycling forever – in its own way. Learn how you can turn old produce, coffee grounds, leaves, lawn clippings, and even some leftovers into compost to use in gardening. Remember that greasy pizza box cardboard? It can be used to compost too!
Okay, but what if my stuff doesn’t fit in any of those categories…
Many hard-to-recycle products can be recycled through TerraCycle. They have loads of contracts with food manufacturers and can take things that don’t fit in the recycling bin (apple sauce pouches, chip bags and lots of cosmetic containers just to name a few!) They can even recycle cigarette butts! Check out more information about that, here.
Next: Spring clean Tennessee!
All cleaned up and want to help? Check out our event calendar to participate in a litter cleanup near you!