New Year’s Resolutions for 2017: less sugar and a recycling reset

It’s that time of the year when thoughts turn to renewal and fresh starts. For a greener 2017, we suggest adding an easy-to- keep New Year’s recycling resolution: A commitment to better recycling at home.

The key to keeping any New Year’s resolution is starting with a plan and putting a system in place. And the key to a successful recycling plan begins with a visit to With a quick glance you’ll see what’s most important for recycling today: recycle all bottles, cans and paper; keep items clean and dry; and keep plastic bags out of the recycling.

To put your New Year’s “recyclelutions” into action, start by setting up a recycling system that includes multiple containers and easy-to- read signage.

First, look for boxes or containers you have around the house, since you will need several bins. Recycling works wonderfully in the kitchen, but other rooms often get jealous. So spread the recycling love by finding a recycling and a garbage container for each of the rooms where it makes sense.

For example, add a recycling bin to the bathroom for those empty shampoo bottles and toothpaste boxes; add one in the home office for scrap paper; and add a big bin to the garage to collect cardboard, plastic bottles and soda cans. For maximum convenience, put your recycling and garbage containers side by side in each room.

Label your containers so even the recycling beginners in your house know what goes where. You can create your own labels using the local recycling guidelines and pictures on the Waste Management website Attach labels to containers and also post the guidelines on or your fridge for easy reference. Your whole family will become recycling pros in no time.

And finally, three extra tips to help you succeed at your recycling resolution:

1) When it’s time to empty containers throughout the house, be sure to put the right materials in the right carts before you pull carts to the curb. A quick peek inside the carts before you place them at the curb each week is a terrific way to “audit” your recycling.

2) Do not place plastic bags in your curbside recycling. Instead, reuse or take them to your local grocery store. (Plastic bags that end up in curbside recycling carts get caught in machinery at recycling plants. They can shut down an entire plant!)

3) It’s fine to line a trash bin with plastic bags, but your recycling bin needs to go al fresco to avoid those nasty problems at recycling plants.

With these tips, your newly organized recycling system at home, and a visit to the RecycleOftenRecycleRight website, your recycling resolutions are off to a green start and they’re easier than giving up sugar. Keep it up and 2017 could be a banner year for recycling at your house.

Michelle Metzler is the head of Waste Management public education and outreach. For more information email or visit

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