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Tips to Reduce Waste & Recycle Right

Make the Switch from Disposable to Reusable. Preventing and reducing waste has both economic and environmental benefits.

Everybody and everything is interconnected – we all share the same land, air, and water. There are no environmental boundaries within our finite planet. Additionally, everything we buy and use comes from a resource that our Earth provides. When we buy less, use less, and waste less, our collective efforts will conserve water, energy, and natural resources, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to warming the Earth’s atmosphere.

Since the early 1990’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost have been part of curriculum, as well as part of our everyday practice. But, let’s not forget that the most effective means of Sustainable Resource Management is to REDUCE and REUSE – to not make waste in the first place and to use an item again to extend the product’s lifespan. Then comes RECYCLE and COMPOST, which are only a piece of the overall solution to landfilling items that still have viability or a higher and better use.

Since China enacted its Green Sword Policy, exported bales of recyclables can no longer have more than 0.5% contamination. Two things dictate what can be recycled curbside or in the lunchroom, technology to sort and separate the materials and viable markets to sell the materials to make new products. Now more than ever, it’s important to Recycle Right! In the lunchroom, keep it simple – CANS – BOTTLES – CARTONS – see sign below that can be downloaded at! Consult your waste/recycling company for further details.

Tips to Recycle Right:

  • Provide a bucket to empty liquids from bottles and cartons
  • Replace caps on plastic bottles – helps with sorting at the MRF
  • Clean any food residue from containers
  • Always provide a recycling container next to a landfill container (like salt and pepper shakers)
  • Put signs on all recycling containers of “acceptable” materials
  • Put recyclables in the container loosenever put in plastic bags


  1. SWANCC’s Waste Reduction Solutions brochure below for additional ideas!
  2. SWANCC – posters, recycling guidelines and video
  3. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Interactive Recycling Guide
  4. S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School Program
  5. Green Schools Alliance

If you have any questions or would like additional information, contact Mary S. Allen, SWANCC’s Recycling and Education Director at or 847-724-9205, ext. 204


Village of Lincolnwood
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