How to Dispose of Household Cleaners

In the midst of spring cleaning, don’t forget to dispose of household cleaning products and their containers correctly. Here are some tips for making sure cleaning your house is easy on the environment:

  • Use up all cleaning products before disposing of their containers.
  • Liquid, powder or gel products can be flushed down the drain in small quantities, if needed.
  • Solid products (including wipes, sheets, pads, pastes, crystals and sticks) need to go in the trash.
  • Plastic containers can be recycled as plastic, but need to be completely empty and clean. Check to see what type of plastic the container is made from (e.g., #1 or #2), and then check to see if our program accepts that plastic. If the plastic is accepted, rinse the container thoroughly and then let it dry before placing it in the recycling.

If you’re looking for safer alternatives to chemical cleaning products, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for an overview of dangerous chemicals and product health ratings, or Real Simple’s 10 All-Natural, DIY Cleaners to Scrub Every Inch of Your Home for making your own.

When Green Isn’t Green: Reconsider Flowers This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and with over 80 million mothers in the U.S. alone, we have a lot of women to show gratitude to. In fact, this gratitude adds up to over $2 billion in flower sales nationwide each year.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans celebrating Mother’s Day do so by purchasing flowers. However, you might consider an alternative, more eco-friendly gift — most cut flowers arrive in our shops and markets after being shipped internationally in refrigerated containers, because they are so perishable. Between water, pesticides and greenhouse gas emissions, flower sales have an alarming environmental impact.

If you’re attached to the idea of giving flowers, try giving a living plant instead of cut flowers, or find locally grown blooms through Local Harvest. If you receive flowers on Mother’s Day, remember to recycle the plastic wrap with plastic bags and compost the flowers once they’ve wilted.

Declutter Like a Pro: 8 Reasons to Ditch Your Stuff

There’s something about spring that encourages folks to clean out their homes. Considering the name Marie Kondo gets tossed around as a verb these days, it’s easy to see that decluttering your life has become a popular undertaking.

Decluttering might not be everyone’s favorite task, but now is not a bad time to “spring” into action and tackle the clutter that builds up in our abodes. Not only can you improve the atmosphere and organization of your home, you can pass along unneeded items to those who can really use them — check out this list of local donation locations. When items are no longer usable, their materials can often be recycled for reuse.

Here are 8 reasons to part ways with your clutter. Donate or recycle the following:

  1. Items that aren’t something you would go out and buy now.
  2. Items that are a duplicate — you have something similar that serves the same purpose.
  3. Items that are broken and you have yet to try and fix them.
  4. Items that are kept for sentimental reasons, but when considered in light of all of your other sentimental objects, seem unnecessary or excessive.
  5. Items that you haven’t used within the last year.
  6. Items that you don’t have a plan to use — a real plan, not a hypothetical one — or that you don’t know how to use.
  7. Items that you wouldn’t notice if they were gone.
  8. Items that don’t fit your personality or living space.

For more inspiration, check out this list of 116 things you should get rid of by PopSugar or this article in The Atlantic on the economics and psychology of decluttering.

New Contact Lens Recycling Program!

Good news, contact lens wearers! Now you can recycle your contact lenses and blister packs. Thanks to the partnership of Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle, you can mail any brand of used contacts and their blister packs to the Bausch + Lomb ONE by ONE Recycling Program.

Contacts may seem too tiny to bother recycling, but over 30 million people in the U.S. currently wear contact lenses. With disposable and daily contacts, not to mention their packaging, the waste adds up quickly.

You can learn more here, or click here to request a free shipping label. Note: Don’t ship cardboard contact boxes — these can be recycled with paper.

Tips for a Green Easter

Spring is all about new life and new beginnings, which makes it the perfect time for egg hunts. One thing we don’t normally associate with spring? Trash — but sometimes it’s difficult to avoid at holidays, even Easter. So what can you do? Check out these tips for reducing waste from the biggest Easter culprits:

Plastic Eggs

Need new eggs this year? Consider avoiding plastic ones, which tend to be made from plastic #7 and may contain BPA. A safer plastic option is Eco Eggs, which are made from plant-based plastic but would need to be industrially composted. There are also non-plastic options — wooden eggs are easy to find online or in craft stores, and these can be hand-painted. These dyeable ceramic eggs are pretty neat, too. Or, there are hollow wooden eggs and cloth eggs that you can fill with candy or other treats, though you might not find these in a local store.

If you already have plastic eggs, reuse them from year to year. You can also consider repurposing plastic eggs if you no longer need them. You can find seemingly endless ideas online for upcycling plastic eggs, but here is one for a sophisticated spring nest and another for a row of tea lights.

Real Eggs

When it comes to using real eggs at Easter time, there are a few ways to green your activities. Choosing locally sourced, pasture-raised eggs will mean your eggs have a smaller carbon footprint and likely a higher nutritional value, too. If you like to blow out eggs, remember to use the raw yolks and whites for cooking. If you hard-boil your eggs, check out these recipe ideas — that way you won’t be faced with the quandary of how to make yourself eat dozens of plain old hard-boiled eggs. If you don’t eat your dyed eggs, be sure to compost the leftovers.

Although the probability of health hazards from egg dye seems low, consider looking into non-toxic egg dye, or making your own with this how-to from ABC News.

Basket Fill

Plastic grass cannot be recycled curbside, and it doesn’t decompose easily. If you already have some, reuse it, but if you don’t, there are alternatives. Raffia is a great option, because it looks like dry, tan-colored grass (think hula skirts), it’s made from strands of tree leaves, and it can be found at craft stores. Shredded paper and tissue paper would be eco-friendly choices, too.


Easter candy is a lot of fun, especially when you have little ones, but it can generate a lot of waste, too. The biggest thing you can do to reduce its impact is to choose minimal packaging. Paperboard or foil packaging are greener choices than plastic, but unpackaged candy from the bulk section of a grocery store would be even better.

Why You Should Never Recycle Your Garden Hose

In the springtime, a lot of us dig out our lawn and garden supplies and strategize what we’re going to do with our yards this year. This is usually when we realize that we need to replace our garden hoses. Whether they froze when they still contained water, got run over by a car or lawn mower, or broke down over time, hoses just don’t last forever. Although you might think garden hoses are recyclable, you need to throw them away.

Why? Garden hoses are one of the most dangerous items to accidentally toss in your recycling. They are long and unruly, and can wrap around sorting machinery. This not only can damage the machinery, but it also endangers the workers who have to try to untangle them. Toss them in the trash, or, if you’re feeling resourceful, check out these ideas in the recycling guide for repurposing them.

Start Composting Now for Your Summer Garden

It might still be cold outside, but summer is just around the corner. And the beginning of summer means the beginning of gardening season.

If you start a compost now, it could be ready in three months — the perfect time to add it to a flower or vegetable bed. You can use compost as mulch around existing plants, or mix it into the top layer of a new planting bed. In addition to containing a lot of micronutrients, compost also improves the ability of soil to retain water and transfer nutrients to plants.

Want to try, but not sure where to start? Check out our composting page for tips and how-tos. Don’t have a lot of space? You could try a tabletop composter or worm farm. If you don’t have a garden, you can always give your compost to a friend who does, use it on houseplants or donate it to a community garden.

What Do Those Recycling Symbols Mean, Anyway?

Everyone knows the recycling symbol. First created in 1970, it seems to turn up everywhere these days. But did you know the recycling symbol doesn’t always mean an item is recyclable? In fact, there are multiple recycling symbols, and each has a different meaning. Let’s decipher them:


recycling symbol

1. Recyclable (Sometimes, Some Places)

This symbol doesn’t necessarily mean that an item is always recyclable. It has multiple meanings, and typically means that an item is recyclable somewhere. In other words, it’s possible that it’s recyclable in Truckee, but it’s not definite. Sometimes a recycling symbol will be accompanied by the phrases “please recycle” or “widely recyclable,” which means it is likely that you can recycle it curbside, but you still need to check the recycling guide to ensure it is accepted by our program.

This symbol is also used to indicate that an item is made from recycled materials. In this case, it might have a number in the middle indicating the percentage of recycled materials used to make it. Or it might say “Made from recycled materials.” Items made from recycled materials are sometimes recyclable but sometimes not.

recyclable symbol

2. Made From Recycled Paper

This symbol, the recycling sign over a dark circle, is more specific. Used by paper products such as cardboard and napkins, this symbol means that the item was made from materials that have already been recycled. However, even though it looks like the recyclable symbol, not all products with this symbol can be recycled. Napkins, for example, are end-of-use products, meaning it’s the end of the road for those super-short paper fibers, and you’re going to have to throw them away. Cardboard, however, could still be recycled.


3. The Plastic Resin Code, or Type of Plastic

Items with this symbol are not necessarily recyclable. The symbol doesn’t stand for recycling at all — it stands for the type of plastic the item is made from. Among all plastics #1-#7, #3 and #7 are rarely recyclable. The other types of plastic are more commonly recycled, but in Truckee only #1 and #2 are recycled.

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4. Compostable (But Probably Not in Your Backyard)

An item carrying this symbol is compostable in an industrial compost facility. However, not all industrial compost programs accept all materials, so you will still have to check with the facility you are bringing materials to. Please note that compostable items are not recyclable. Also, do not try to compost items with this symbol at home unless the label says you can. Industrial facilities can handle items that might never break down in a backyard compost.


5. The How2Recycle Label

The How2Recycle label is becoming more common, and it’s carefully regulated to provide you with accurate information. It indicates if an item is recyclable widely, in limited areas, not at all, or if it needs to be dropped off at a store. Since up to 40 percent of U.S. households might not be able to recycle items designated as “widely recyclable,” it’s wise to check our local guide no matter what.

The How2Recycle label also tells you what materials the item is made from, which parts can be recycled and if you need to prepare the item for recycling, such as by rinsing it out. For example, check out the instructions on the frozen food package below.


It’s helpful to have these symbols memorized, but even if you do, they’ll never be as accurate as our local program information. Remember that you can look an item up in our recycling guide at any time, even from your phone. Try to recycle everything you can — but don’t assume that you should toss something into your recycling just because it has a symbol on it.

¿Qué Significan Esos Símbolos de Reciclaje?

Todo el mundo conoce el símbolo de reciclaje. Fue creado por primera vez en 1970, y parece estar en todas partes estos días. Pero ¿sabía usted que el símbolo de reciclaje no siempre significa que un artículo es reciclable? De hecho, hay varios símbolos de reciclaje, y cada uno tiene un significado diferente. Vamos a descifrarlos:

recycling symbol

1. Reciclable (A Veces, Algunos Lugares)

Este símbolo no significa necesariamente que un artículo es siempre reciclable. Tiene múltiples significados, y típicamente significa que un artículo es reciclable en alguna parte. En otras palabras, es posible que sea reciclable en Truckee, pero no es definitivo. A veces un símbolo de reciclaje va acompañado de frases como “por favor reciclar” lo que significa que es probable que usted puede reciclar en la acera, pero todavía tiene que revisar la guía de reciclaje para asegurarse de que sea aceptada por nuestro programa.

Este símbolo también se usa para indicar que un artículo está hecho de materiales reciclados. En este caso, podría tener un número en el medio que indica el porcentaje de materiales reciclados utilizados para hacerlo. O podría decir “Hecho de materiales reciclados.” Artículos hechos de materiales reciclados son a veces reciclables, pero a veces no.

recyclable symbol

2. Hecho de Papel Reciclado

Este símbolo, el signo de reciclaje adentro de un círculo oscuro, es más específico. Utilizado por productos de papel tales como cartón y servilletas, este símbolo significa que el artículo esta hecho de materiales que ya han sido reciclados. Sin embargo, aunque parezca el símbolo reciclable, no todos los productos con este símbolo se pueden reciclar. Las servilletas, por ejemplo, son productos finales de uso, lo que significa que es el final de la carretera para esas fibras de papel súper cortas, y usted va a tener que tirarlas. El cartón, sin embargo, todavía podría ser reciclado.


3. El Código de Resina Plástica o Tipo de Plástico

Los artículos con este símbolo no son necesariamente reciclables. El símbolo no representa el reciclaje en absoluto — representa el tipo de plástico del artículo. Entre todos los plásticos #1- #7, #3 y #7 rara vez son reciclables. Los otros tipos de plástico son más comúnmente reciclados, pero en Truckee sólo #1 y #2 se reciclan.

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4. Compostable (Pero Probablemente No En Su Patio Trasero)

Tenga en cuenta que los artículos compostables no son reciclables. Además, no trate de compostar los artículos con este símbolo en casa a menos que la etiqueta dice que usted puede. Las instalaciones industriales pueden manejar los artículos que pueden ir en un compost.


5. The How2Recycle Label

La etiqueta How2Recycle se está volviendo más común y está cuidadosamente regulada para proporcionarle información precisa. Indica si un artículo es reciclable extensamente, en áreas limitadas, no en absoluto, o si necesita ser traido a una tienda. Dado que hasta el 40 por ciento de los hogares de los Estados Unidos podrían no ser capaces de reciclar los artículos designados como “ampliamente reciclables,” es recomendable consultar nuestra guía local sin importar qué.

La etiqueta How2Recycle también le indica de qué materiales está hecho el artículo, qué partes se pueden reciclar y si necesita preparar el elemento para reciclarlo, por ejemplo, enjuagándolo. Por ejemplo, echa un vistazo a las instrucciones del paquete de comida congelada a continuación.


Es útil tener estos símbolos memorizados, pero incluso si lo hace, nunca serán tan exactos como la información de nuestro programa local. Recuerde que puede buscar un elemento en nuestra guía de reciclaje en cualquier momento, incluso desde su teléfono. Trate de reciclar todo lo que pueda — pero no asuma que debe tirar algo en su reciclaje sólo porque tiene un símbolo en él.

Daylight Saving Time: When You Change Your Clocks, Change the Batteries in Your Smoke Detector

March 12 is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, which means we have to move the clocks forward an hour. But Daylight Saving Time is also the perfect time to check your smoke detectors and change the batteries! When it comes to fire safety, it’s always better safe than sorry.

When you change your batteries, remember to recycle your old ones. Never throw batteries in the trash — they contain dangerous metals and corrosive chemicals that can leach into the environment. Find out how to recycle batteries here.

Does Running Water Make You Think of Energy? It Should

When we think about saving energy, we tend to think about electronics, heat, and gasoline. But running water uses energy, too. According to Energy Upgrade California, running hot water for just 5 minutes uses as much electricity as leaving a 60-watt lightbulb on for more than 14 hours. This adds up quickly. Home Water Works reports that 15 percent of all household energy is spent heating water.

So the next time you’re brushing your teeth, washing dishes or taking a hot shower, be conscious of what water you really need, and what water you don’t. When we run tap water, it’s not only the water we’re consuming. It’s also all the resources that are needed to pump the water to our homes, heat it, and sanitize it afterwards. Simply being aware of this can help you strategize how to use less.

For more tips on saving water, visit the EPA’s WaterSense or Read more about your home’s biggest energy hogs here.

¿La Agua Corriente Te Hace Pensar En Ahorrar Energía? Debería

Cuando pensamos en ahorrar energía, casi siempre pensamos en las cosas electrónicas o la gasolina. Pero cuando corremos la agua eso también utiliza mucha energía. De acuerdo con Energy Upgrade California, cuando corres la agua caliente por sólo 5 minutos es lo mismo que dejar una bombilla encendida durante más de 14 horas. Este gasto de energía se suma rápidamente. Home Water Works informa que el 15 por ciento de toda la energía del hogar se gasta calentando la agua.

Así que la próxima vez que te cepilles los dientes, laves los platos o tomes una ducha caliente, es importante ser consciente de la agua que realmente se necesita. Simplemente ser consciente de esto puede ayudarle a estrategias a cómo utilizar menos.

Para más consejos sobre el ahorro de agua, visite WaterSense de la EPA o