By: Nickie Harris, Concierge at Downtown
We all know the basics of recycling – glass, aluminum, paper, and plastic can be tossed in the recycling bin and taken away to Balcones Resources to start their new life. But what happens when you end up with an item you don’t know what to do with? We see a lot of items placed in the wrong bins at Castle Hill (no shame – even our staff gets confused and it’s a common problem according to this New York Times article), especially at our Downtown location where we compost as well as recycle, and we want to do something about it. After all, we strive to live up to our Green Initiatives and our Platinum-level Green Business Leader status. Composting and recycling are one of the easiest, everyday ways to reduce your carbon footprint because the process turns waste into valuable new products and keeps resources out of the landfill.
Read on to see the most commonly misplaced items here at Castle Hill and where they should actually go, to make sure our friends at Balcones and Organics by Gosh Compost get some quality single stream recycling and compost from us.
What Goes Where: A Quick Guide
Compost: If an item is compostable, it means it is a biodegradable product that can organically decompose and then be used a nutrient-rich soil to fertilize plants and crops. Thinks veggies, fruits, paper products, teas, y’know, nature-y type things. Don’t compost meat, dairy, fats and cooking oils, items treated with chemicals, herbicides, or pesticides. While most of these items are organic in practice, most compost systems won’t reach a high enough internal temperature to facilitate the decomposition system and kill all the bacteria present.
Recycle: Recyclable items are manufactured materials that can be reused – through a processing treatment, wasted items are re-converted into more useful material. For the most part, metals, plastics, cardboard, glass, and paper should be recycled. Always make sure any items you recycle are empty, clean, and dry. For example, that cardboard but grease-soaked pizza box? That’s a no-go for recycling. Food items should never go in trash.
Trash: The rest goes in trash! Non-biodegradable and can-never-be-used-again-EVER items are diverted to landfills.
This Goes in Compost:
Soup Peddler smoothie cups, lids, and utensils: These items are compostable with industrial composting, which Organics by Gosh does for us. These are not approved for in-home composting, however.
Paper Towels: Paper products like paper towels can be placed in the compost! The fibers of paper are easily bio-degradable.
Coffee Cups: Paper coffee cups normally have an interior lining, to keep the cup from falling apart when filled with liquid. These interiors are usually made out of a thin lining of plastic or wax – if your coffee cup has a wax lining, you can throw it in our compost bins, as an industrial composting plant has the resources to process
This Goes in Recycling:
Soup Peddler Smoothie Straws: Not all plastic straws are recyclable, but our neighbors at the Soup Peddler keep it green with specially made recyclable straws.
Coffee cup sleeves and lids: Once you’re done NOT burning your hand and spilling your coffee, you can place these in recycling. Better yet, save a step and reuse your paper sleeve!
Bottled and Canned Drinks: As you may already know, bottles and cans made of aluminum, plastic, and glass can definitely be recycled. Make sure to remove the lid though – you’ll find out why as you read on.
Plastic Water Cups: These little cups that we utilize at our water stations are fully recyclable, but it’s even better to bring your own water bottle for your workout (especially when we phase out these plastic cups at the end of 2018). We sell our own branded water bottles, and our very own Kevin Brodwick, a substitute instructor for our cycling classes, makes awesome BPA-free water bottles with his company thinksport!
This Goes in the Trash:
Perfect bar, RXBar, and Thunderbird Bar Wrappers – These wrappers are made of mixed materials to keep the freshness of the product intact, and therefore are not recyclable. They go into the bins marked ‘landfill’.
Disposable Razors and Toothbrushes: These complimentary amenities that we offer in our locker rooms are made of mixed materials, so into the trash they go!
The LIDS of Bottled Drinks: Did you know that your empty drink bottle goes into recycling, but you’re actually supposed to remove the lid and trash it? Often the lid is made from a different type of plastic than its container, and therefore shouldn’t be mixed together so as not to reduce the quality of the material. Additionally, the lids are usually too small to be captured by the filters at the Balcones plant and will simply fall through.
By keeping these general guidelines in mind, we can reduce our waste even further! We thank you for embracing our Green Initiatives and your willingness to spend those few extra seconds pondering which bin to toss your waste in! If you ever get confused, always feel free to ask any of our staff members on where your to put your item.
Want to explain recycling to the kiddos? Check out Nico’s Quest to Recycle: A Kid’s Guide to Recycling from SaveOnEnergy.
Interested in taking a larger role in our sustainability efforts here at Castle Hill? Join our Green Team and help us continue to find different ways to minimize our environmental impact! If you are interested in joining our team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.