Want Not? Waste Not! The Complete Guide to Waste Less and Recycle More

Want Not? Waste Not! The Complete Guide to Waste Less and Recycle More

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American produces about four pounds of solid waste a day. That’s nearly 1.5 tons a year! And of that amount, about 75% of that trash is recyclable. So, why does the average American recycle only about 30% of it? And why does LRS feel it is important to divert over 40% of items out of the solid waste stream, which is separate from the properly recycled items?

In your own everyday actions, you can reuse and upcycle more items than you think. For example, you can create a windowsill herb garden, using old soup cans as planters. For festive candy poppers, fill toilet paper rolls with sweets and then seal both ends. Or maybe try and turn an empty wine bottle into a rustic flower vase by wrapping it with colored yarn. With literally thousands of recycling project ideas online, you can easily reduce the amount of trash you throw away.

Whether you feel the need to rid your home of unwanted waste or want to start a recycling program in your office, know exactly what materials to recycle, including those listed below.



Glass is a valuable product because of its sustainability. It is the one commodity that you can re-manufacture over and over again. Recycle all colors of glass bottles and jars: clear, brown, green and blue. However, consider taking broken or unwanted dishware to your local thrift store instead for someone else to claim it as their treasure. Though LRS will accept these items and properly recycle in our state-of-the-art facilities, many curbside and drop-off recycling services around the US do not accept those items.


The Aluminum Association reports that each year, Americans dump more than $900 million worth of scrap metal into landfills when we don’t recycle aluminum cans. We are unerringly throwing away money by wasting these resources.

Like glass, metal is resolute. You can salvage it indefinitely without jeopardizing its strength. Recycle items like soup cans, pie tins, empty aerosol cans and aluminum foil.


The US is responsible for 25% of the world’s paper consumption. Consequently, the US is also responsible for exporting more paper waste than any other country, throwing out more than 700 pounds per person each year. Most of that waste comes from packaging and junk mail. But what if all Americans recycled those mailers and catalogs instead of sending them to the landfill?

The EPA reports that recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees. Think of how many trees you can save by recycling the following items:

  • Cereal and food boxes
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Gable top cartons
  • Kraft brown paper bags
  • Magazines
  • Telephone books


Plastic is one of the most versatile and reusable materials, but each year, Americans throw out 35 billion plastic bottles. That’s enough plastic to circle the Earth four times. Instead of tossing your empty water bottle or peanut butter jar into the trash, give it a new life.

It only takes five recycled 2-liter soda bottles to make enough fiberfill for a ski jacket. Sturdier plastics, like a laundry detergent container, can transform into patio furniture or even a recycling bin.

Additional recyclable plastics include:

  • All-purpose cleaner bottles
  • Margarine, cottage cheese and other food tubs
  • Milk and juice jugs
  • Salad dressing and condiment bottles
  • Shampoo, lotion and toiletry bottles
  • Water and beverage bottles
  • Yogurt, pudding and fruit cups


Be sure to rinse all your plastics of any food or liquid residue before recycling to avoid contamination; also make sure that you do not place your recyclables in black plastic bags to avoid confusing it with trash.

As consumption and waste continue to pile, so does the responsibility to reclaim valuable resources. You can take action by using a service that utilizes single-stream recycling, such as LRS’ innovative facility located in Chicagoland suburb, Forest View. This state-of-the-art facility spans over 40,000 square feet and takes in over 110,000 tons of high-grade residential and commercial single-stream recyclables. With this in mind, this process sorts, separates and allocates over 20 tons of waste per hour.

With this system, you simply toss anything that’s not trash into a single curbside bin or dumpster with absolutely no sorting required. A separate recycling truck will collect your items and deliver them to the appropriate single-stream facility for recycling. It’s that easy!

To learn more about the convenience of single-stream recycling, contact LRS today and learn about how to make going green easier than ever! You can also click here to download our helpful guide of what is considered a recyclable material.

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