Indoor Container Gardening: 3 Fruits to Grow This Spring

Friday, May 26, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Ever since I was little I've loved getting my hands dirty in soil (and sometimes even mud). There was a tree in a playground near my house that I particularly loved playing under. I would take some water, pour it into the soil, take a stick, mix it around, and make mud. My dad would watch me amusedly as I repeated over and over again, "muuuuud". Nowadays, my love for all things soil and plant-related still thrives, but has been transferred over to containers. That's because I live in an apartment and don't have much room to grow things (especially not outside). I only have two windowsills (one of them is in my parents room!) that provide adequate light. But that's okay, because I make it work, and you can too!
That's why I created this indoor container gardening series: For people who don't have access to balconies or yards! Even in books and articles on container gardening I'll see the reference to "putting your plants outdoors" or "transferring plants outside" at some point. Not here! This series is specifically designed to talk about plants that will flourish indoors in a container and stay there. Welcome to part three: Spring fruits.
My first post in this series was about spring herbs. If you'd like to see the first article in this series, I got you covered. My second post was all about spring vegetables. This time around, I'm going to be talking about spring fruits. Specifically strawberries, cherries, and lemons. These all grow great in containers (assuming you have the right sized container for the job), and I really want to encourage everyone to get their hands in the soil (even if you don't have a backyard).
Just so you know, I'll be publishing more posts in this series once a month now through August. Next month will feature summer herbs, just a heads up! More than likely, expect these posts towards the end of the month. I publish every Friday, so be sure to look for the next one around June 30th!


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Strawberries


Perhaps the easiest of the fruits listed on this post to grow in a container, strawberries are my favorite. They taste so delicious in the spring (especially when you buy organic ones), it's like heaven for your mouth. These delicious little fruits can be added to everything from salad to desserts. They can of course be eaten raw, but I love making them into a delicious jam or decadent strawberry syrup. I've never grown them before, but I'm going to be this spring/summer and I'm super excited to give it a shot!
You will need:
  • Strawberry seeds (preferably organic)
  • 10 - 12 inch clay pot (and 8 inches deep) with drainage hole
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:
  1. Fill your 10 - 12 inch clay pot with your organic potting soil.  If you cannot find a pot this big, it's okay to use a smaller one, but please note the smaller the pot, the more you will have to water your plant to prevent it from drying out.
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend no more than 2 seeds per pot. Give them their space too: Seeds should be at least 5 - 6 inches apart.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can. Personally, I don't even use a watering can: I use an upcycled glass bottle. It's easier to water plants this way because there aren't several watering holes (just one) so I have better control over my watering.
  4. Watering: Once you start to see sprouts, now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle - which I painted and made look all pretty by the way). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water ONLY when the soil at the top is dry to the touch. Strawberries in containers need more water than in a garden, so make sure to water frequently (even daily)!
  5. Sunlight: Strawberries need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. If you see them reaching for the sunlight, rotate the pot to make sure they're getting sunlight evenly on all sides.
  6. Harvesting: To harvest strawberries, look for ones that are fully red and ripe. Don't pull on the berry: Instead, snap or cut the stem directly above the berry. Keep harvested berries in a cool place (like a refrigerator). You can also freeze them if you'd like to use them in the future, rather than right away.

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Cherries

When I was little, I ate cherries by the ton load. I would always look forward to my parents bringing home a bunch full of cherries from the store. I thought it was fun to eat because you had to remove the pits. I kind of made it into a game. I also loved how the dark red ones would stain my fingers red. I would pretend it was blood and that I was a vampire and smear it all over my lips. That, or I'd pretend I'd be applying makeup. Either way, cherries are delicious raw and make a great spring and summer treat. They also taste amazing when baked into delightful goodies. How do you like to eat your cherries? 

You will need:

  • Cherry seeds (you could probably just clean off the pits from cherries you buy at the store and use those - I would use organic ones though)
  • For just sprouting the seeds, a 5 - 6 inch clay pot with a drainage hole will do (once it matures, you will need to transplant it to a pot that's at least 10 - 16 inches deep and 12 - 18 inches in diameter - remember, it's a tree!)
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)

 Directions:
  1. Pre-moisten your potting organic potting soil. Put some soil into a bucket and mix in some water until the soil is damp all the way through.
  2. Fill your 5 - 6 inch clay pot with your dampened organic potting soil. Leave about an inch of space below the rim of your container.
  3. I would suggest planting only one seed per container, so if you'd like, plant multiple seeds in different containers and see which flourish. I wouldn't recommend trying more than 4 seeds at a time.
  4. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can. Don't let the soil dry out completely - the seeds need to be warm and moist in order to germinate!
  5. Watering: You should start to see sprouts anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks or so: Now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water whenever the soil becomes dry on the top.
  6. Transplanting: When the time comes, you will have to transplant your sprouts into a pot that's 10 - 16 inches deep and 12 - 18 inches in diameter. This will ensure it has plenty of room to grow and (eventually) produce fruit. Place more organic pre-moistened soil into the bigger pot and gently remove your sprouts from their original pot. Place them in the center of their new home and make sure they're nice and snug by adding more soil (or compacting the soil already there with your fingers).
  7. Sunlight: Cherries need at least 6 - 8 hours of sunlight a day. Essentially, that means they need to be by the windowsill at all times.
  8. Harvesting: With proper care and time, your cherry tree will fruit. Depending on the type of cherry you decide to grow, you'll know it's ripe by it's color. For example, red cherries will be almost black when ready to be picked. Pull the fruit from the tree with an inch of stem remaining. This helps the cherries remain fresh for longer periods. Freshly harvested cherries will remain good for about a week after picking. Store in a cool place (like your refrigerator!)

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Lemons



It's always been a dream of mine to grow a lemon tree. I want at least two of them planted outside my future home. Believe it or not, I have a connection to lemons that extends into my blood line: My grandpa actually used to own a lemon farm back in Italy. I don't know if he still has it anymore (he lives in America now and has been here for several years), but I think that's really cool. I'd love to grow lemons in a garden one day, just like he did, but for now, maybe I'll give a miniature (dwarf) lemon tree a shot. After all, these are the ones that will do best in an indoor container garden.
You will need:
  • Miniature lemon seeds (here are some that got good reviews on Etsy)
  • For just sprouting the seeds, a 5 - 6 inch clay pot with drainage hole will do (once it matures, you will need to transplant it to a pot that's 10 - 16 inches deep and 12 - 18 inches in diameter).
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:
  1. Pre-moisten your potting organic potting soil. Put some soil into a bucket and mix in some water until the soil is damp all the way through.
  2. Fill your 5 - 6 inch clay pot with your  dampened organic potting soil. Leave about an inch of space below the rim of your container.
  3. I would suggest planting only one seed per container, so if you'd like, plant multiple seeds in different containers and see which flourish. I wouldn't recommend trying more than 4 seeds at a time.
  4. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can.   Don't let the soil dry out completely - the seeds need to be warm and moist in order to germinate!
  5. Watering: You should start to see sprouts in about 2 weeks or so: Now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Lemons need a lot of water, so make sure to water daily.
  6. Food: Once or twice a year it might be smart to give your tree some fertilizer to help it grow. You can do this without artificial chemicals. Simply dig a little trench around the base of your tree, fill it with compost and water it well. Or, serve it up as compost tea.
  7. Transplanting: When the time comes, you will have to transplant your sprouts into a pot that's 10-16 inches deep and 12-18 inches in diameter. This will ensure it has plenty of room to grow and (eventually) produce fruit (which can take up to a year mind you). Place more organic pre-moistened soil into the bigger pot and gently remove your sprouts from their original pot. Place them in the center of their new home and make sure they're nice and snug by adding more soil (or compacting the soil already there with your fingers).
  8. Sunlight: Lemons need a lot of sunlight: 8 - 12 hours of sunlight to be exact. Essentially, that means they need to be by the windowsill at all times. If you feel your window doesn't get this much light, try investing in some cheap grow lights. 
  9. Harvesting: You won't be harvesting lemons too soon with these plants. That said, with proper care and time, they'll fruit. When they do, simply pick the lemons off like you would an apple from a tree. Feel free to snip them off right where the stem meets the lemon too (as this is gentler).

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Want more indoor container gardening? Check out the rest of the series here (this list will be updated):
Part 6 - Coming soon! *Summer fruits*
I'll update this series once a month on a Friday. Next month's will probably be on June 30th. See you then! 

Review: Lifestyle Bamboo - The Best Bamboo Products for a Zero Waste Home

Friday, May 19, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Bamboo is amazing. It's got so many uses and is one of the most sustainable materials out there. That's because it grows super fast (did you know it's actually in the grass family?), so there's no need to worry about harvesting too much of it. In fact, in many places, bamboo is considered invasive and hard to remove. So it only makes sense to use it in everything from furniture to kitchenware to health products.
That's where cool companies like Lifestyle Bamboo come in: They sell sustainable products made from the bamboo plant. Bamboo is so versatile that is can be used in everything from toothbrushes to facial cloths. That versatility is captured in Lifestyle Bamboo products: I was fortunate enough to try out their bamboo toothbrush, air purifying bag, and facial cloths. Lifestyle Bamboo also sells baby swaddle blankets made out of bamboo muslin, but obviously that doesn't apply to my life at this stage of the game (still got a ways to go before I need something like that!). That said, I admire Lifestyle Bamboo's dedication to providing their customers with high quality, sustainable products that can be reused over and over again. Total zero waste win. Not to mention all products are designed and warehoused right here in the U.S.A. (Louisiana to be exact). It's a family owned business, so all their products are hand-wrapped before being shipped out to you. I think that's a wonderful touch, don't you? Their mission is to provide premium ecofriendly products that are both stylish and essential. But most importantly, they designed each of their products to last. And trust me when I say they've certainly been lasting. Ready to see what I thought of each product? Keep reading.
 
 
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Why you want it: This comes completely packaged in eco-friendly material and the toothbrush has a 100 percent bio-degradable handle (so cool!).
 
Its value: $14.99 (this is for a set of 4 toothbrushes, mind you)
 
My review: As some of you might know, I'm no stranger to ecofriendly toothbrushes. That said, I really wanted to try a traditional, bamboo toothbrush. A lot of people in the zero waste community use them, instead of the conventional plastic toothbrushes. I was really excited to take part in that, because lets just say plastic toothbrushes are not something my mouth enjoys. In fact, I noticed I would always get cold sores whenever I used a plastic toothbrush, even if I changed it every 3 - 4 months (as the American Dental Association [ADA] recommends). Also, I always noticed disgusting mold growing on the handle of my plastic toothbrush. I would always wash it off, but it would always grow back. Both these observations, and my decision to go zero-waste, influenced me to try a bamboo toothbrush. Suffice it to say, I was not disappointed. This toothbrush does a great job of cleaning my teeth and gums. It works absolute wonders and doesn't irritate my mouth the same way the plastic toothbrush was. In fact, I haven't gotten a single cold sore since! Also, this toothbrush has not grown any mold what so ever on its handle. Super impressive. I've been pairing it with my own DIY all-natural, zero waste toothpaste recipe and its been working wonders. My teeth feel so clean and refreshed after brushing. In fact, I've actually come to look forward to brushing my teeth. The handle is made from mao bamboo, and the bristles are BPA-free. Since mao bamboo is naturally resistant to mildew, I guess that explains why I haven't noticed any mold growth. The other really great thing about this product is it's color labeled. The bottom of the brush has a little colored dot, which makes it easy to identify your brush opposed to someone else's. Lifestyle Bamboo gives you the option to choose between color coded handles and plain handles: You simply need to select multi-color or original when ordering. For example, if my whole family decided to use Lifestyle Bamboo's toothbrushes, we would definitely invest in the 'multi-color' ones so that we can distinguish which toothbrush belongs to who. Pictured above is the red color coded brush, but there are three other colors: blue, green, and yellow. Also, you can choose to buy an adult sized toothbrush (7 1/2 inches) or a child sized toothbrush (5 1/2 inches). Obviously the one I tried was adult-sized, but I like the fact they give you the option! Perhaps the best part about this toothbrush is the fact the handle is completely compostable. At the end of its life, you can return it to compost or soil and it will decompose without pollution. Sweet, right? And don't worry about the packaging either: It's all made from eco-friendly, recyclable material and no plastic! So all in all, I highly recommend this toothbrush.


 Materials
mao bamboo, BPA-free bristles
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Why you want it: These air purifying bags are filled with bamboo: All you need to do is charge them in the sun and they'll eliminate odors without needing chemicals to get the job done.
 
Its value: $19.99 (this is for a set of 2 air purifying bags, mind you)
 
My review: I hate air fresheners. I always have, even before I knew they were loaded with chemicals. That's because I have a hyper-sensitive nose. I have a great sense of smell and anything that isn't natural tends to make me sneeze like the dickens. Unfortunately, this happens to me every time I pass someone by who's wearing artificial perfume (which happens a lot). And it's also happened to me when I spray air fresheners. Now, the sneezing part aside, I always felt afraid to breath in these 'air fresheners' whenever they were sprayed. I would actually hold my breath sometimes and rush out of the bathroom (or room) they were sprayed in. That has less to do with sneezing and more to do with the fact I feel like I'm directly injecting poison into my body. And that's because I am. Air fresheners are filled with toxins and chemicals like fragrance, propane,
isobutane, sorbitan oleate, sodium phosphate, and propylene glycol to name a few. Don't believe me? Just look at the ingredients list to one of Glade's room sprays "Clean Linen": You'll see these ingredients listed for yourself. Yuck. In order to avoid that, I wanted an all-natural air purifier that could be reused again and again. Enter, Lifestyle Bamboo's air purifying bag. It's filled with 200 grams of moso bamboo. Each bag is 6 inches by 6 inches in size and has an attractive grey linen fabric with a convenient rope handle attached to it. You can pretty much hang it any room you want to get rid of undesired smells. It's all-natural, non-toxic, chemical-free, and of course, unscented. Which pretty much means my nose is mega happy around this thing! I like to leave it in my room the most, but sometimes I put it in the bathroom when it needs to be aired out. It also really helped when my apartment was being repainted: I cannot stand the smell of paint and an area right outside my room was being repainted. Thankfully though, with this purifier in my room, I didn't smell it at all! It did a great job of absorbing the odors and keeping them outside my room. This little bag covers up to 90 square feet of area (pretty impressive, right?) and will naturally absorb odors and even moisture that causes mold, mildew, and bacteria. You don't have to just leave it in your bedroom or bathroom though: It can work anywhere, like in pet rooms, vehicles, closets, kitchens, basements, diaper pails, and even the refrigerator. Talk about versatile! And it's super easy to use: All you need to do is leave it in direct sunlight for at least one hour before using it. This will charge the bamboo, activating its odor absorbing properties. This step is crucial, and must be done once a month. If you feel it needs to be charged more than that, you may do so. However, with the proper care, this baby can last up to two years! So ordering a set of two of them will cover you for 4 years (assuming you don't use them at the same time). That'll certainly save money in the long run. The best part is, when all is said and done, you can also compost the bamboo inside the bags. Just add it to your compost bin or directly to soil. You might even be able to reuse the fabric too, assuming there's not too much wear and tear on it. I think I'll use mine as an herb sachet at the end of it's life (you know, fill it up with some lavender and chamomile flowers? I love doing stuff like that and putting it under my pillow - it helps me sleep better at night and relaxes me). So all in all, I totally recommend investing in these little powerhouses!
 
Materials
200 grams of Moso bamboo charcoal, grey linen fabric, rope handle
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Why you want it: This super soft washcloth is great for using on babies - or yourself (I use it to wipe my face after cleansing it!).
 
Its value: $14.99 (this is for a set of 6 washcloths, mind you)
 
My review: I have a confession to make: I don't like using the reusable towel in my bathroom on my face. Everyone's hands are constantly touching it, and with me being a germaphobe, it's not a good combination. Unfortunately, that left me with only one other option: Toilet paper. After cleansing my face, I needed to dry it somehow, so I would automatically go for the toilet paper. It was convenient, but so wasteful. That's why when I received this from Lifestyle Bamboo, I was forever grateful. I could finally wash my face and not waste paper in the process! Not to mention this is made from 100 percent bamboo rayon from bamboo fibers, which is certainly a more ecofriendly alternative. While any facial towel would've been better than using toilet paper, one made from bamboo fibers is pretty darn sustainable. That's because most towels (facial or not) are made from cotton or cotton-polyester (and unfortunately, cotton is one of the most toxic crops grown because it uses 20 percent of the world's pesticides and herbicides). So, like I said, it's a good thing this was made out of bamboo fibers. As far as it's endurance goes, I've been using it for a few weeks now and it's still in great shape. I use it to wipe my face off after cleansing my face, morning and night. It's great for makeup removal and just wiping down my face (like directly out of the shower). It's also super soft, so if you have ultra-sensitive skin, you pretty much need this in your life. You'll thank me later. There are times I literally pick it up just to feel it (yeah, I know I'm weird). I do recommend washing it at least once a week though, depending on how much makeup you use. I don't use much, so there wasn't too much dirt on it by the end of the week. That said, it's easy to hand-wash. I just use The Simply Co.'s all-natural (and zero waste) laundry detergent on it. I fill up my sink with a little bit of warm water, put a little of the detergent in, and fill the rest of the sink up with cold water. Then I add the washcloth in and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then I hang it on a hanger to dry - super simple! Also, it comes in recyclable packaging (plastic free). Score! I totally recommend this to anyone who has a baby or needs a good face towel. Remember: Don't settle for toilet paper as a facial wipe!
 
Materials 
100% Bamboo Rayon from Bamboo Fibers
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 The (quick) rundown
 
 
The pros: The pros heavily outweigh the cons.
  1. I really loved communicating with Lifestyle Bamboo, they were so open and cooperative.
  2. I love how the products are zero waste friendly: From their packaging to their products, everything can be recycled or composted!
  3. I can reuse each and every single one of these products (some of them for years!).
  4. I adore how each of the products utilizes bamboo in some form or other.
  5. The prices on these products are very reasonable and I feel comfortable recommending them you all because of that.
  6. These products are super simple to use and very versatile - specifically the air purifiers and the washcloths!
  7. Using these products seriously minimizes the amount of waste and chemicals I put into the environment.
  8. All products actually do what they promise to do - no fibs here!
  9. There are so many health benefits to switching over to bamboo-based products (after all, my cold-sores went away thanks to the bamboo toothbrush, remember?).
  10. I love how everything is designed and shipped in the U.S.A.: Definitely helps keep transportation pollution down!

The cons: There was only one con I could think of...
  1. I wish I had more of the washcloths! Other than that, that's it. I literally cannot think of anything bad to say about this company. Sheesh.
Conclusion: I highly recommend giving one (or all) of these products a shot. You will not be disappointed. They're clearly made to last and high quality. Not to mention these are essentials all zero-wasters (and greenifiers) should have in their home! I absolutely love the versatility of Lifestyle Bamboo products: While they're a family-oriented company, you don't have to have a child to enjoy these products. Honestly, I think just about anybody could use these on the daily. So if you love bamboo (and the zero waste lifestyle), be sure to give Lifestyle Bamboo a shot!

This post was sponsored by Lifestyle Bamboo. All thoughts remain honest and not influenced by a third party.   

Zero Waste Living: How to Make DIY Toothpaste

Friday, May 12, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
A week or two ago, I decided to take the next step in my zero waste journey and make my own toothpaste. I've been taking small, baby steps to becoming more zero waste and figured this would be a good experiment for me. After all, most conventional tooth paste comes in plastic and is made with a list of unpronounceable ingredients (aka chemicals). Even all-natural toothpastes come packaged in plastic (most of the time), so I decided making my own would be a great way to cut back on my plastic waste. Not to mention, it's ridiculously easy to make. All I needed were 3 ingredients (all of which can be bought in bulk or in reusable containers). Two of the three ingredients I needed for this DIY were already in my house, so it was a no brainer.
I shared how I made this DIY on my Instagram stories and people really seemed to love it, so I figured I'd share a more accessible form of the recipe here. Now you greenifiers can access it whenever. Score. Honestly, I've been loving this toothpaste. Initially, I didn't like the taste too much, but I got used to it. And truthfully, it cleans my mouth way better than conventional toothpaste. I've also been using a bamboo tooth brush (but more on that in my next blog post). Lets just say the two certainly compliment each other well! Ready to see how to make your own DIY toothpaste? Lets get started!
 
 
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You will need:
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  • 25 drops of peppermint essential oil (I used this brand because it's safe to ingest)
  • A glass jar (for storage)
  • A bowl and spoon (for mixing)
 
Directions:
  1. So, this is pretty basic. Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir thoroughly. If you'd like to add more or less of each product, be my guest. Find what works for you and stick with it.
  2. Transfer mixture to an airtight container. Believe it or not, the glass jar I used once contained facial cream. No worries, I washed it out very good before putting this toothpaste in it! That said, I hope it inspires you to look around and see if you have any glass jars that can be repurposed like this.
  3. To use, simply dip your toothbrush into the jar. If you're a (bigger) germophobe than I am, you can use a small spoon or a popsicle stick to scoop some of the toothpaste out and onto the toothbrush.
Note: There may be some separation between the oil and baking soda as time passes. For example, you might notice the oil sitting on top of the baking soda. This is perfectly fine. It does not mean the toothpaste is bad. Simply mix it up to recombine them using a spoon. Or, take the lazy way out and dip your toothbrush in anyway (just make sure you get a good mix of the oil and the baking soda on your brush and you'll be fine). Happy brushing!  

Here's What You Can and Cannot Recycle in NYC

Friday, May 5, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
I live in New York City (Staten Island, to be exact). After learning about the zero waste community, I've become incredibly conscious of what I throw out and recycle and have looked for active ways to reduce waste in my home. I'm not completely zero waste (and in truth, I don't think anyone could be), but I'm way more informed. Thing is, everyone tends to believe recycling is the answer to waste-related problems. I think it is helpful (and better than sending something to a landfill), but it's certainly not the answer. It's good to know what you can, and cannot recycle because it will help you make more informed choices when you buy a product. For example, thanks to my own research, I now know squeezable tubes are not recyclable, so I will simply stop buying them (because I refuse to send them to a landfill). The same is true for everything else that's non-recyclable: I will stop buying them, and you should too. Even the things I can recycle I will do my best to cut back on, just because an item can only be recycled so many times (at least in terms of plastic). That said, it is very good to know your state's recycling rules so you don't put anything in the wrong bin (and mess up the recycling process all together). And if you don't live in NYC, that's okay too. I hope this guide inspires you to Google your state's own recycling laws. You may be surprised at what you find.

 
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Note: This information was sourced from nyc.gov's zero waste page and website. For more information, head to their site.
 
Paper and Cardboard
These can be recycled
 
Paper:
  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogs
  • White and colored paper (including lined, copier, and computer paper; staples are acceptable)
  • Mail and envelopes (any color; window envelopes are acceptable)
  • Paper bags
  • Wrapping paper
  • Soft-cover books (such as paperbacks and comics; no spiral bindings), telephone books

Cardboard:

  • Cardboard egg cartons and trays
  • Smooth cardboard (such as food and shoes boxes, tubes, file folders, and cardboard from product packaging)
  • Pizza boxes; remove and discard soiled liner, and recycle plastic supporter in your blue bin
  • Paper cups (waxy lining is acceptable if the cups are empty and clean; plastic lids go in the blue bin)
  • Corrugated cardboard boxes, flattened and tied

Not Accepted:
These cannot be recycled

  • Paper with heavy wax or plastic coating (such as candy wrappers, and take-out containers)
  • Soiled or soft paper
  • Hardcover books

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Metal, Glass, Plastic & Cartons
These can be recycled
 
Important note: Empty and rinse containers before recycling.

Metal:

  • Metal cans (including soup and pet food cans, empty aerosol cans, dried-out paint cans)
  • Aluminum foil wrap and trays
  • Metal caps and lids
  • Household metal (such as wire hangers, pots, tools, curtain rods, knives, small appliances that are mostly metal, and certain vehicle license plates)
  • Bulk metal (such as large metal items like furniture, cabinets, and large appliances)

Glass:

  • Glass bottles
  • Glass jars

Plastic & rigid plastic:

  • Plastic bottles, jugs, and jars
  • Rigid plastic caps and lids
  • Rigid plastic food containers (such as yogurt, deli, or hummus containers; dairy tubs, cookie tray inserts, "clamshell" containers, and other plastic take-out containers)
  • Rigid plastic non-food containers
  • Rigid plastic packaging (such as " blister-pack " and " clamshell " consumer packaging, acetate boxes)
  • Rigid plastic housewares (such as flower pots, mixing bowls, and plastic appliances)
  • Bulk rigid plastic (like crates, buckets, pails, furniture, large toys, and large appliances)
Cartons:
  • Food and beverage cartons (such as cartons for soy milk and soup)
  • Drink boxes
  • Aseptic packaging

Not Accepted:
These cannot be recycled

  • Batteries (remove before recycling toys and small appliances)
  • Plastic bags, wrappers, pouches, squeeze tubes, foam

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Electronics:
 
Effective April 1, 2015, you can be fined $100 for placing electronics, such as computers and TVs, at the curb for disposal. See recycling options below.
UPDATE: A pilot program provides curbside collection of electronics for Staten Island residents, by appointment.

New York State Disposal Ban:

The following items are banned from disposal in New York State. Manufacturers are required to provide free take-back programs:
  • Televisions (including cathode ray tubes)
  • Computer peripherals, including any permanently attached cable or wiring
  • Monitors, laptops
  • Electronic keyboards
  • Electronic mice and other pointing devices
  • Fax machines, document scanners, and printers that are meant for use with a computer and weigh less than 100 lbs.
  • TV peripherals, including any permanently attached cable or wiring
  • VCRs
  • Digital video recorders
  • DVD players
  • Digital converter boxes
  • Cable or satellite receivers
  • Electronic or video game consoles
  • Small scale servers
  • Portable devices, including any permanently attached cable or wiring
  • Portable digital music players
 
 Not accepted:
These cannot be recycled
 
  •  Loose cables, cameras, GPS devices, and microwaves.
Note: Items made of mostly metal or rigid plastic can be recycled with other metal/glass/plastic items. See options for rechargeable batteries and cell phones.
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Batteries
These are tricky: Read each to see the proper regulation for them
 
Auto battery:
  • It is illegal to discard a car battery in the garbage or recycling or on the street. Auto batteries can be recycled at service stations or auto supply stores that sell them, or take to household special waste drop-off site or upcoming DSNY SAFE disposal event.
Backup battery:
  • Illegal to discard in garbage or recycling if less than 25 lbs. Recycle through a retailer or manufacturer take-back program or take to household special waste drop-off site or upcoming DSNY SAFE disposal event.
Battery (alkaline):
  • Discard alkaline batteries in the garbage (they aren't hazardous since they no longer contain mercury) or take to household special waste drop-off site or upcoming DSNY SAFE disposal event.
Battery (rechargeable):
  • Illegal to discard with garbage or recycling. Stores in NY State that sell rechargeable batteries or products that contain them (with the exception of small food stores) must accept up to ten batteries of the same shape and size that they sell or take to household special waste drop-off site or upcoming DSNY SAFE disposal event. Individually bag batteries or tape terminals prior to dropping off.
Button battery:
  • Recycle at a jewelry store, watch repair shop, or camera store. Otherwise, discard as garbage or take to a household special waste drop-off site or upcoming DSNY SAFE disposal event (individually bag batteries or tape terminals before dropping off).
Small appliance (with rechargeable batteries):
  • Donate or sell if in good condition. Otherwise, bring item to any store that sells this product so rechargeable battery can be properly discarded. NY State's Rechargeable Battery mandates that stores that sell rechargeable batteries (or products containing rechargeable batteries) must take back up to ten batteries of the same shape and size as they sell, free of charge.
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Cosmetics
These can be recycled 
  • Recycle empty metal, glass, or rigid plastic containers. Please note: Cosmetics in plastic tubes are not recyclable.

Not accepted:
These cannot be recycled
  • Items made of materials other than metal, glass, or rigid plastic can be placed in your regular garbage.
 
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Bulbs
These are tricky: Read each to see the proper regulation for them
 
broken fluorescent light:
  • Contains minimal amounts of mercury. The EPA recommends as a best practice that you air out the room with a window or door; collect materials with cardboard, tape, or wet paper; and place into a sealable container. Turn off air conditioning or heating unit if possible. Can be taken to upcoming DSNY SAFE disposal events. Can also be legally discarded in garbage, but double bag for safety.
 

Compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL):
  • Contains minimal amount of mercury. Take back to retailer that accepts CFLs, or to household special waste drop-off site or upcoming DSNY SAFE disposal event. Can legally discard in garbage, but double bag for safety.
 

Light bulb (incandescent or LED):
  • Double bag for safety and discard as garbage on regular collection day(s).
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Conclusion
 
As you can see, there are loads of regulations on what can and cannot be recycled in NYC. I would suggest using this as a guide and doing your own research on it. Personally, I'm going to avoid buying anything I cannot recycle and limit purchasing even what it says I can recycle. This way, I will avoid sending nearly as much to a landfill. That, and I can invest in items that I won't need to recycle after one single use or two. After all, the best items are the ones you can keep for years without wear and tear. Plastic items certainly don't last for years (and I'd rather not put my money towards the creation of new plastic - all the plastic that was ever created is still on this planet, after all! We don't need more of it). And remember, if you're not a NYC resident, Google your state's recycling regulations so you can be an informed citizen too.
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