Inside a Recycling Center. Courtesy of Robert Winn via Las Vegas Review-Journal

For many of us, the past few weeks have been filled with moving boxes, the hauling of desks up countless flights of stairs, and the consumption of pizzas while sitting cross-legged on the living room floor. With many leases expiring in August, this is the season of moving. It is also the season during which an absurd amount of recyclable material ends up in the trash. As you move in to your new place or out of your old, remember a few simple guidelines to help you be a responsible Boulderite.

How to Recycle:

Gone are the days of complicated sorting. Boulder County has switched to a single stream system which means that you can recycle your glass, cans, paper, and plastic all together. If you live in Boulder County, curbside pickup is probably available to you. If not, there are several drop off centers around the state.

For hard to recycle items, Boulder County’s CHaRM facility offers a fast, quick, and (most importantly) responsible way to get rid of your unwanted household items.

What is Recyclable:

You might notice that almost every plastic item in your fridge has a little recycling logo that surrounds a number. Contrary to popular belief, this does not indicate that the item is recyclable. I know, confusing! The small number represents the type of plastic that the item is made out of. In Boulder County, we can recycle plastics number 1-7. Glass, cans, paper, and cardboard are all also perfect items to recycle!

Items like computers, appliances, and other hard to recycle items should always be recycled. While they cannot be picked up by your curbside provider, they are incredibly important to keep out of the landfills.


We all want to recycle. It’s understandable that we want to do our environment proud, but it’s important to remember that putting non-recyclables in with recyclable materials is worse than just putting them in the trash. Trash can contaminate the process and result in a much higher amount of waste. Those within the recycling community will often refer to the “dirty dozen“. These materials which include plastic bags, shredded paper, styrofoam, and many other everyday items cause the most damage to recycling lines around the country. When in doubt, throw it out.

Pro-tip: Contrary to popular belief, Starbucks cups are not recyclable. Unless you got your drink from the UMC’s branch, who’s cups are compostable, throw it out.