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Recycling is the process of separating, collecting, processing, marketing, and REUSING materials that would have otherwise been thrown away. When a product has been recycled and reused as a new product, the loop has been closed. For example, glass is 100% recyclable and can be used over and over again without any loss of quality.


Sort through your trash! It's the best way to discover where you can reduce waste. Is there anything reusable or repairable? Can you reduce the amount of disposable products you use?

Next time you purchase goods and products look for the 3R's.

What are the 3 R's?


Reduce -- your first line of defense for waste management

  • when choosing between similar products, select the one with the least amount of packaging and ask yourself if it can be recycled or reused
  • avoid the disposable versions of razors, pens, batteries, plates, cups, napkins, etc
  • reduce junk mail by asking that your name and address be removed from mailing lists by sending a written request to:
    Mail Preference Service
    Direct Marketing Association
    PO BOX 9008
    Farmingdale, NY 11735

Reuse -- give it a second chance!

  • reuse, refuse, or bring your own shopping bags
  • carry food in reusable containers rather than plastic food bags
  • leave grass clippings and leaves on your lawn or compost them
  • invest in cloth napkins for daily use and reusable wiping cloths, towels, and plates
  • DONATING unwanted furniture, appliances, clothing, and toys is the best way to give goods a second life

Recycling -- close the loop

This term is used to describe the last and most important step in the recycling process. It refers to the point when a consumer buys a recycled product after it has been put into a recycling program and processed into a new item.

  • choose recyclable containers when purchasing refreshments. Avoid foam cups with plastic lids and straws
  • support recycling markets by buying and using products made from recycled materials
  • when shopping, look for the recyclable sign at the bottom of products

For more information about recycling, including finding the collection center nearest you, visit Earth911.



What can we recycle in Alachua County?

Paper-newspaper, office paper, cardboard, magazines/catalogs, brown paper bags, telephone books
Why recycle paper? If everyone in the US recycled just 1/10th of their newsprint, it would save approximately 25 million trees a year!

Aluminum-beverage containers, canned foods containers, empty aerosol cans
Why recycle aluminum? Enough energy is saved by recycling one aluminum can to run a TV set for 3 hours.

Plastics-soda bottles, milk jugs, plastic bags (at grocery stores), detergent containers, all plastic containers with a 1, 2, or 3 recycling symbol on the bottom
Why recycle plastic? Five recycled plastic bottles makes enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket.

Glass-all colors
Why recycle glass? Glass never wears out. For every ton of glass that is recycled, a ton of resources (sand, soda ash, limestone, and feldspar) is saved.

Other metals-steel cans, automobile bodies, appliances
Why recycle steel? For every ton of steel that is recycled, 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1000 pounds of coal, and 40 pounds of limestone is preserved.

Yard trimmings-grass, leaves, clippings all by composting
Reuse these to mulch your yard!

Got packing peanuts?
Call the Plastic Loosefill Council at 1-800-828-2214 for a list of drop-off centers. Most UPS Store locations accept foam packaging peanuts for reuse. Check out www.theupsstore.com for a location near you.

What do you do with old sneakers?

Old sneakers are recycled and reused to make new sports surfaces like running tracks and playground surfacing. Check out Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program for more information and collection sites near you.

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Copyright © 2004 UF/IFAS Extension and Mark Hostetler
Content written by Elizabeth Swiman and Mark Hostetler
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611