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Earth Day at home: recycling & reusing

Ditch the plastic sandwich bags for reusable silicone bags. Consumer Reports tests them out for you.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Most of us can agree that plastic products have changed our lives, but they’re also polluting the planet. The same goes for food scraps, which are not only wasteful but can also end up in landfills.

So in honor of Earth Day, on April 22, Consumer Reports has some simple ways to cut back on both.

"If you’d like to reduce your environmental impact, try reusable silicone bags. Consumer Reports tried out a bunch. The bags are meant to replace your plastic sandwich and snack bags. They’re made from silica, a natural and abundant element found in sand and rock," said Perry Santanachote, Consumer Reports Home Editor. 

 They cost more upfront, but you’ll be reusing them by tossing them in the dishwasher or washing them by hand. The top-pick W&P 34-ounce bag for $12 is easy to open and close, leak- and stain-resistant, and great for freezer storage. It can also be used for sous-vide.

Before you go out and buy more, CR says to see what you can reuse. The idea is to reduce your food waste. 

For the inedible parts, composting is an option. CR checked out several indoor composters, helpful if you’re short on outdoor space.

Many of these require worms and microbes that help break down the food scraps. But some smell and can attract pests.

The Vitamix Food Cycler for $400 skips the worms and just grinds and breaks down your food in about 3 to 8 hours. After that, the food will break down faster in landfills.

"If you're looking for the most high-quality compost, the kind of stuff that you want to use for your plants and your garden, you want to go with worms," said Santanachote.

CR says the Urban Worm Bag Version 2 from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm for $140 is convenient and easy to use and can handle 6 pounds of food scraps.

Before you spend any money on a composting system, CR says you should aim to reduce your overall food waste. That’s because composting doesn’t eliminate the much bigger upstream environmental impact associated with growing food.

RECYCLING WHEREVER YOU ARE

Earth911.com is one way to look up your zip code and the items you're looking to recycle.  

RECYCLING IN GREENSBORO

If you're unsure what can and can't be recycled, you can use the Waste Wizard in the GSO Collects tool to search virtually any item and find out what goes where.

Glass is not recyclable in Greensboro. You can check for the drop-off sites. 

New Greensboro glass recycling locations

  • Tiny House Community Development, 1310 W. Gate City Blvd.
  • Hemphill Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd.
  • Fire Station 17, 6405 Old Oak Ridge Rd.
  • Guilford Park Presbyterian, 2416 Lawndale Dr.
  • Union Coffee Company, 1119 E. Wendover Ave.
  • Fire Station 63, 4306 Burlington Rd.
  • Craft Recreation Center, 3911 Yanceyville St. 

If you need to contact the recycling center's field office, you can call them at
336-373-2489.

The city's recycling schedule is here.

ONLY recycle these items:

  1. Paper & cardboard
  2. Metal food and drink cans
  3. Plastic bottles, tubs, and jugs

   

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