How to be a good recycler

The Milford Library and the Environmental Concerns Coalition (ECC) co-sponsored a program March 3 on recycling. Steve Johnson, Milford’s natural resource agent and acting assistant public works director, presented videos and graphs on the overflowing amount of global trash polluting land and waterways.

Every Milford man, woman and child produces about 1,300 pounds of trash each year — about average for Connecticut.

Milford offers a number of options to responsibly recycle waste. The city’s curbside pickup serves about 16,000 households. And the transfer station accepts a number of expanded recycling options not acceptable in the single-stream recycling bin.

According to Johnson, there are a number of things people can do to reduce the amount of trash they produce.

  1. Refuse: Count to 10 before buying something and ask yourself if you really need it.

  2. Reduce: Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

  3. Reuse: Don’t throw away still-usable items. Give clothes to Goodwill.

  4. Recycle: The new What’s In, What’s Out program has a recycle wizard at to help people recycle materials correctly.

  5. Rot: Compost to help reduce the organic materials entering the waste stream.  

Many people agree the city’s single-stream recycling bins and rules make recycling easier.

However, it is estimated that about two-thirds of the recycling bins have materials that should not be recycled in the single-stream system. The worst culprit is the plastic bags uses to hold recyclables. Plastic bags get caught in the sorting devices and contaminate the sorted materials.

Instead, use paper bags to store dry recyclables and just rinse off the rest (especially aluminum foil) and throw it into the bin.

Single stream needs items loose so they can be sorted.

Connecticut’s goal is to increase recycling and diversion of waste from about a 35% rate to 60% by the year 2024.

The following are some resolutions made by people leaving Johnson’s lecture:

  • I’m going to use cotton napkins instead of paper ones.

  • I’m going to use empty glass jars to store my leftovers.

  • I’m not going to throw prescription bottles, plastic coffee cup lids, or sponges into recycling.

  • I’m going to take A, AA, AAA, C, or D batteries in a Ziploc bag to Radio Shack, which will dispose of them properly.

  • I’m going to take my Styrofoam pellets and other packing material to a shipping store such as FedEx.

  • I’m going to speak to store owners about not using plastic bags and bring my own totes to take home my purchases.

Johnson’s most urgent request was to stop placing any plastic bags into the recycling bin. Otherwise the recyclables in those bins become part of the waste.