In essence, all recycling requires of us is to separate our biodegradables from our non-biodegradables. But it gets a little more complicated when you consider that most items are already a mix of both. Whether we’re talking greasy pizza boxes or plastic bottles with the caps still on ‘em, not everything is recyclable just because it has the ♻ symbol on it.

There’s a lot more to it than that, and slip-ups will happen if you’re not constantly on the lookout! Here’s just 5 of the most common recycling mistakes people make. Double-check your practices!

MISTAKE #1: PUTTING COFFEE CUPS IN THE WRONG BIN

Most single-use coffee cups, even the ones that are “mostly” made of paper, can’t be recycled. That’s because they’re lined with plastic to prevent the liquid inside from seeping through.

THE FIX: Instead of opting for to-go cups at all, consider having your drink at the cafe you’re in—or simply bring your own reusable containers.

TRY: Frank Green Original Smart Cup, P1,450, Eco Vessel Triple Insulated The Boulder, P1,950, Fifty Fifty Double-Wall Vacuum Insulated Coffee Cup, P1,650

MISTAKE #2: NOT CLEANING OUT GLASS CONTAINERS

If you purchase food that comes in glass bottles, jars, and the like, those are relatively easy to bring to recycling centers or glass scrap buyers—but not if they still contain food waste.

THE FIX: Be sure to thoroughly sanitize each container before sending them out for recycling. Alternatively, you could also get creative with them. The DIY possibilities for your regular, old jam jar are endless!

TRY: Gourmet Cravings Sampler Gift Set, P275, The Green Tummy Wild Forest Honey, P370, Made by Maxi Cashew Butter (Crunchy), P355

MISTAKE #3: THROWING AWAY ALL FOOD WASTE

As much as we may try to eat all of our leftovers, food wastage does happen. But just because we can’t feed our bellies with them doesn’t mean they can’t be good for anything else.

THE FIX: Certain food scraps, like fruit and vegetable peels, used coffee grounds, and stale bread, can be turned into organic compost fertilizer for your garden. Just be sure to do your research first to avoid trouble with pests!

TRY: Qubo PH Arugula DIY Garden Kit, P200, Qubo PH Cilantro DIY Garden Kit, P200, Qubo PH Peppermint DIY Garden Kit, P200, Qubo PH Parsley DIY Garden Kit, P200

MISTAKE #4: IMPROPERLY DISPOSING OF USED PAPER

Used tissues and paper plates with food oils, for example, shouldn’t be disposed of along with scrap paper. They contaminate the whole batch and make it ineligible to be ground together and reused again.

THE FIX: Be sure to read up on what papers can and can’t be thrown together, and heed the signs accordingly! You could also cut out the middleman by gathering unused recyclables yourself and bringing them to junk shops to ensure they arrive completely unsoiled.

MISTAKE #5: USING PLASTIC BAGS TO GATHER RECYCLABLES

As useful as they are, plastic bags actually keep recyclable items from getting to the proper recycling plants. Plastic bags and anything found in them will most likely end up in a landfill.

THE FIX: If necessary, gather your items in an equally recyclable container, be it pure paper for paper, or glass for glass. As much as possible, avoid single-use plastics altogether, as these do more harm than they’re worth to our environment.

TRY: Sac MNL Liwa Mesh Long Handle Cotton Bag in Wheat, P299, Sac MNL Liwa Mesh Long Handle Cotton Bag in Old Rose, P299

So, how would you be changing your recycling habits?

To discover more about healthy living, visit our Wellness Tab.

Credits: Illustrations by Kathy Austria

For more cool stories and members-only perks, sign up for BeautyMNL!