Green Living: Recycle!

Disposing of trash is not cheap or easy, despite how it seems from the average citizen's experience; casually tossing that bag of trash into the bin is just the beginning. A landfill will be its home for a long, long time - plastic bottles, for example, may not even begin to decompose for up to 1,000 years - and it may leach dangerous chemicals into the land and water nearby. Though recycling is only one part of waste reduction (following reducing and reusing), it is a vital one, and is very easy to do, with the wide variety of items accepted curbside in Lakewood as well as in the new public recycling bins across the city.

Recycling is beneficial not only in terms of stemming landfill growth, but also in many other ways: fewer resources are required to make a product out of recycled materials than out of new ones, using recycled materials allows us to conserve precious raw materials, recycling is itself an important and potentially job-creating industry, and it generates less air and water pollution.

In 2006, Americans recycled around 82 tons of trash, saving the equivalent of more than 10 billion gallons of gasoline in the process, but this accounted for only 30% of the trash created. If this amount increased by only 5%, we could reduce emissions by the equivalent of 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Hopefully, you are now convinced that you should be recycling as much as possible, in which case, you just need some tips for recycling in Lakewood:

Curbside pickup is available for metal cans, glass jars and bottles, plastic (#1-7), paper, and yard waste.

Rinsed-out plastic, glass, and metal can go together in clear or blue plastic bags (tied closed). The bags should be 30 gallons or less, and weigh less than 30 pounds. If putting out several lightweight bags, tie them together so they do not drift away or spill, and try to rinse away any food residues. Remember that things like meat trays, microwavable dinner trays, yogurt cups, snack packages, shampoo bottles, grocery bags, and even some fast food cups and/or their lids are recyclable. Be aware, however, that Styrofoam is NOT accepted, despite sometimes being labeled with a recycling symbol.

All kinds of paper can be set out together, tied with string in bundles or packed in paper bags or boxes (don’t mix with plastics, glass, or metal or place in plastic bags). If in boxes, label them as paper recycling and limit to less than 30 pounds. This can include junk mail, newspapers, magazines, books, boxes, and even toilet paper and paper towel rolls, but should not include anything with a wax coating, like many frozen food packages. Another forbidden item is the pizza box, which is too often contaminated by grease.

For yard waste, limit weight to 50 pounds per container and use yard waste bags, boxes, or labeled garbage cans. Cut branches to 4' or less and tie in bundles; cut logs to 18" in length and 6" in diameter. Be sure to separate yard waste and recycling from trash.

Place everything on the curb after 6pm the night before your collection day or before 6:30am on collection day. To find out your collection day, or if you have any other questions or concerns, call the Lakewood Division of Refuse & Recycling at 216-252-4322.

In addition to Lakewood's curbside pickup, some items may be dropped off at the Recycling Center (12920 Berea Road). The Recycling Center accepts paint (non-latex), motor oil, antifreeze, car batteries, tires, cell phones, fluorescent light tubes, rechargeable batteries (Home Depots and Radio Shacks also accept these), computers and computer equipment, appliances, mattresses, and the usual curbside pickup items. More details are available on the Dept. of Refuse & Recycling’s web page at

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Volume 6, Issue 2, Posted 8:52 PM, 01.26.2010