Don’t Waste Away Summer – 15+ Tips to Enjoy a Greener Season


Beach vacations, lake days, and pool-side views. Ah, sweet summertime. But as you’re packing that beach bag, dusting off the old cooler in the garage, or searching the shelves for sunscreen, make sure you have a plan to dispose of your newfound summer thrills – one that protects our planet, your family, and others.

Before you head out on that family vacation or staycation, consider these dos and don’ts of summertime recycling. And remember, recycling is not the same everywhere – it varies from town to town and may differ where you work, live, and play. While some communities may accept more recyclables, others may accept different materials. Make sure you check the local program’s website to know where, what, when to recycle, and how to recycle the right way.


  • Do purchase products that are reusable, compostable, or recyclable. For instance, purchase a cooler that can be enjoyed season after season as opposed to one that will be wasted after the first use. Use reusable plates, napkins, cutlery, and cups or purchase ones that can be composted.
  • Do locate public space recycling bins at beaches, parks, lakes, and other spaces and make sure you follow the local recycling rules for using these.
  • Do have a plan for properly and safely disposing of your trash on hikes and walks. As you are planning your journey, plan for how you will dispose of your recycling and trash. Please do not litter.
  • Do recycle bottles and cans in all places where they are accepted. If you plan ahead, you may purchase sunscreen in a recyclable bottle (plastic or metal), but be sure to check locally and recycle empty and dry.
  • Do consider keeping a recycling container in your car for road trips. While not all roadside stops may have recycling containers, you can take these valuable materials to the next location.
  • Do ask your lodging location about recycling – many hotels offer in-room recycling bins.


  • Don’t place foam containers or coolers in recycling bins or containers – these can be returned to participating retail locations.
  • Don’t try to recycle plastic shopping bags in household bins or containers – these too can be returned to participating retail locations.
  • Don’t assume that just because it’s recyclable where you live that it’s also recyclable in other locations, even if it’s in the same community.
  • Don’t attempt to recycle materials with food or liquid residue – remember to recycle empty and dry.
  • Don’t place disposable cutlery, straws, plates, napkins, or paper towels in the recycling
  • Don’t put beach chairs, towels, floats, fireworks, batteries, or propane canisters in the recycling. These items can cause serious injury to recycling workers and should be donated, reused, or safely disposed of, following the guidelines of the local programs.

At-home Summer Recycling Tips

Whether you’re exploring the idea of a staycation, backyard barbecue, or planning to tackle the weekend warrior DIY list, remember:

  • When gardening, plastic plant pots may not be accepted in your recycling program but can be returned to participating retail locations. Mulch and potting soil bags don’t belong in your recycling bin, but these can be returned to retail locations that accept plastic shopping bags or you may elect to order mulch and soil that are not sold in bags. Garden hoses are not recyclable and can pose dangers to recycling equipment and facility workers – used garden hoses can be made into soaker hoses for gardening.
  • Your recycling collection day or drop-off location hours may vary due to summer holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day, so be sure to check schedule changes on your local program’s website.
  • Construction materials are not recyclable, but these may be valuable to resale stores or thrift shops.
  • For cookouts or barbecues, remember to set out your recycling bin, preferably beside your trash can. When shopping for supplies, be sure to purchase products that are reusable, compostable, or recyclable. Prevent attendees from placing disposable cutlery, straws, plates, napkins, or paper towels in the recycling.
  • Educate your guests on what is and isn’t recyclable in your community by creating a DIY Sign for your in-home recycling container.

Whether you’re staying home or hitting the road, your summer reading list won’t be complete without these Recycling 101 articles, carefully curated to help you and your neighbors recycle more, better. And, no summer would be complete without taking a moment to give back to people and the planet – explore what and how to recycle in your community by chatting your recycling questions in realtime.

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