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Can I Recycle This?: A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics

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The first illustrated guidebook that answers the age-old question: Can I Recycle This? Since the dawn of the recycling system, men and women the world over have stood by their bins, holding an everyday object, wondering, can I recycle this? This simple question reaches into our concern for the environment, the care we take to keep our homes and our communities clean, and ho The first illustrated guidebook that answers the age-old question: Can I Recycle This? Since the dawn of the recycling system, men and women the world over have stood by their bins, holding an everyday object, wondering, can I recycle this? This simple question reaches into our concern for the environment, the care we take to keep our homes and our communities clean, and how we interact with our local government. Recycling rules seem to differ in every municipality, with exceptions and caveats at every turn, leaving the average American scratching her head at the simple act of throwing something away. Taking readers on a quick but informative tour of how recycling actually works (setting aside the propaganda we were all taught as kids), Can I Recycle This gives straightforward answers to whether dozens of common household objects can or cannot be recycled, as well as the information you need to make that decision for anything else you encounter. Jennie Romer has been working for years to help cities and states across America better deal with the waste we produce, helping draft meaningful legislation to help communities better process their waste and produce less of it in the first place. She has distilled her years of experience into this non-judgmental, easy-to-use guide that will change the way you think about what you throw away and how you do it.


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The first illustrated guidebook that answers the age-old question: Can I Recycle This? Since the dawn of the recycling system, men and women the world over have stood by their bins, holding an everyday object, wondering, can I recycle this? This simple question reaches into our concern for the environment, the care we take to keep our homes and our communities clean, and ho The first illustrated guidebook that answers the age-old question: Can I Recycle This? Since the dawn of the recycling system, men and women the world over have stood by their bins, holding an everyday object, wondering, can I recycle this? This simple question reaches into our concern for the environment, the care we take to keep our homes and our communities clean, and how we interact with our local government. Recycling rules seem to differ in every municipality, with exceptions and caveats at every turn, leaving the average American scratching her head at the simple act of throwing something away. Taking readers on a quick but informative tour of how recycling actually works (setting aside the propaganda we were all taught as kids), Can I Recycle This gives straightforward answers to whether dozens of common household objects can or cannot be recycled, as well as the information you need to make that decision for anything else you encounter. Jennie Romer has been working for years to help cities and states across America better deal with the waste we produce, helping draft meaningful legislation to help communities better process their waste and produce less of it in the first place. She has distilled her years of experience into this non-judgmental, easy-to-use guide that will change the way you think about what you throw away and how you do it.

30 review for Can I Recycle This?: A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tabatha (tab.talks.books)

    BOOKSTAGRAM | BOOK BLOG | AMAZON Let’s be real—reading about recycling can be b-o-r-i-n-g. However, the way this book was payed out and the illustrations made it fun to read. I won’t lie it was a little 🥱 during the policy portion towards the end but I really learned a lot about the different recycling numbers and what can and cannot actually be recycled. I never knew that things get sorted by an infrared laser. There’s so much more about recycling that I never knew and I’m a huge recycler. I rea BOOKSTAGRAM | BOOK BLOG | AMAZON Let’s be real—reading about recycling can be b-o-r-i-n-g. However, the way this book was payed out and the illustrations made it fun to read. I won’t lie it was a little 🥱 during the policy portion towards the end but I really learned a lot about the different recycling numbers and what can and cannot actually be recycled. I never knew that things get sorted by an infrared laser. There’s so much more about recycling that I never knew and I’m a huge recycler. I realized I did a little too much “wishcycling” and have promised to make a better effort to wash out my jars and containers before recycling. This is really a great all in one book for a quick fun to read explanations about questions the everyday person has.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leah B

    Just went to the grocery store and brought my own bags and didn't use any plastic produce bags (even though an employee pointed them out to me because I wasn't using them). And THEN scrunched up some used tin foil to make a weekly foil ball. I feel like a rock star. Just went to the grocery store and brought my own bags and didn't use any plastic produce bags (even though an employee pointed them out to me because I wasn't using them). And THEN scrunched up some used tin foil to make a weekly foil ball. I feel like a rock star.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Everyone needs to read this book. I thought I was good at recycling and sadly learned so many things I recycle end up in the landfill. We all need to do better in saving the Earth.

  4. 4 out of 5

    B

    I learned a lot about how recycling works, mistakes I’ve been making, the horrors of plastic pollution, and ways to make a difference. The graphics add a nice touch. This all at a beginner level so very accessible but maybe too easy for some.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Beautifully illustrated and informative. I learned a great deal - the technology of waste management is more advanced then I thought but still not enough. We need to stop using single use plastics.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Very good guide to what is recyclable and what is not. It also gives advice how to made a product ready for recyclable. Really enlightening.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I was a little familiar of the basics of recycling but Can I Recycle This? takes a deeper meaning to the word recycle and educates us on why certain materials need to be recycled and are dangerous to our planet. I loved how the first recycled material the book focused on was Pizza Boxes. I myself used to live with a roommate that This book was received as an ARC from PENGUIN GROUP Penguin Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I was a little familiar of the basics of recycling but Can I Recycle This? takes a deeper meaning to the word recycle and educates us on why certain materials need to be recycled and are dangerous to our planet. I loved how the first recycled material the book focused on was Pizza Boxes. I myself used to live with a roommate that would hoard pizza boxes and all I wanted to do with them was take them to the trash bin. Now that I knew they can always be recycled and my complex now has a recycle bin instead of a dumpster, I feel less guilty. This book is perfect for a deeper education in the art of recycling and learning all the details on why it can save the world and save everyone. We will consider adding this title to our Self-Help collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nore

    An extremely useful guide (with the caveat that how much it applies to you will depend on your local recycling system) that goes deep into the details behind what to recycle while maintaining a realistic outlook on the economics of it all. I did not know you could recycle tin foil - I do now! I did not know that recycling glass was generally not profitable - I do now, and I'm sad about it, because glass is the ultimate reusable! All this, in a very easy-to-read, easy-to-browse, easy-to-reference An extremely useful guide (with the caveat that how much it applies to you will depend on your local recycling system) that goes deep into the details behind what to recycle while maintaining a realistic outlook on the economics of it all. I did not know you could recycle tin foil - I do now! I did not know that recycling glass was generally not profitable - I do now, and I'm sad about it, because glass is the ultimate reusable! All this, in a very easy-to-read, easy-to-browse, easy-to-reference guide. I wouldn't buy a personal copy, but I might check it out again to refresh my memory.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Lots of info and useful for someone looking past tossing everything in the recycle bin.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I highly recommend for all! It will make you rethink how you recycle and the the products you buy. This book was so interesting and informative. I have always been a recycler and recently I've been trying to reduce my plastic output. The author goes through the recycling process so thoroughly, and goes into detail about why certain materials are or are not recyclable. A great read! I highly recommend for all! It will make you rethink how you recycle and the the products you buy. This book was so interesting and informative. I have always been a recycler and recently I've been trying to reduce my plastic output. The author goes through the recycling process so thoroughly, and goes into detail about why certain materials are or are not recyclable. A great read!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nell

    i certainly recommend this. However, it's one in a string of books I've read lately that leave me more discouraged about the state of our planet, in this case because most of what we throw in our recycling bins gets trashed somewhere down the line. Our products, and especially plastics, aren't designed to be recycled. A book that addresses this is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Certainly there are choices individuals can make that will help somewhat, but any meaningful change i certainly recommend this. However, it's one in a string of books I've read lately that leave me more discouraged about the state of our planet, in this case because most of what we throw in our recycling bins gets trashed somewhere down the line. Our products, and especially plastics, aren't designed to be recycled. A book that addresses this is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Certainly there are choices individuals can make that will help somewhat, but any meaningful change will require society-wide cooperation with large-scale (probably government) systems. We all know how that's going in the "freedom-loving" U.S. where people think their rights to forgo masks or vaccinations or carry weapons anywhere trump others' right to be safe. And why should it be on consumers instead of manufacturers to keep track of shifting markets for recyclable materials, or spend time seeking out products that harm the environment less than most of what's on store shelves? It's also true that recycling is largely local because markets need to be near enough to cover the costs of transportation. Hence the author's advice to put in your recycling bin whatever they'll collect. So I still take any plastic bags we don't reuse to the collection bin at the local supermarket, but no longer put clamshells or blister packs in our bin because there's no demand, and better we should trash them than the recycler, which, at least in our area, is a business.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Klepper

    Whether we're wishcyclers, tree huggers, or reluctant trash sorters...we all need the information in this book. In Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Better Recycling, author Jennie Romer and illustrator Christie Young have created probably the most readable guide on recycling and what should actually go in that yellow recycling container. Milk jugs? Yep. Yogurt cups? Nope. Shampoo bottles? Yep. Juice pouches? Nope. But it's not just a red-light/green-light list. Romer provides history, science, and Whether we're wishcyclers, tree huggers, or reluctant trash sorters...we all need the information in this book. In Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Better Recycling, author Jennie Romer and illustrator Christie Young have created probably the most readable guide on recycling and what should actually go in that yellow recycling container. Milk jugs? Yep. Yogurt cups? Nope. Shampoo bottles? Yep. Juice pouches? Nope. But it's not just a red-light/green-light list. Romer provides history, science, and real-world data to inform, and Young provides fresh, whimsical, watercolor-y illustrations that pull the reader through the book. It's a truly enjoyable read, and one I will reference frequently when I don't want to be a wishcycler (someone who puts items in a recycling bin instead of the trash even if they're not sure whether they are recyclable or not). WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK: Romer and Young find the perfect balance of hard information and engaging (fun!) illustrations. Even the graphs are illustrations! It's like hiding kale in brownies. WHO THIS BOOK IS FOR: Anyone who wants to be smart about recycling. Heck, even people who don't want to be smart about it—it may still change habits. *Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Books for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    I admit I skimmed certain sections, but even so it gave me plenty to consider. It is a useful, reader-friendly book on a subject that has always confused me. I confess that while I'm a fan of the overall concept of recycling, I am skeptical of its effectiveness, especially here in America. So - this book helped me understand the process better. The artwork and diagrams are very helpful and contribute nicely to the practical advice this book offers. I still don't think recycling is the big fix fo I admit I skimmed certain sections, but even so it gave me plenty to consider. It is a useful, reader-friendly book on a subject that has always confused me. I confess that while I'm a fan of the overall concept of recycling, I am skeptical of its effectiveness, especially here in America. So - this book helped me understand the process better. The artwork and diagrams are very helpful and contribute nicely to the practical advice this book offers. I still don't think recycling is the big fix for our environmental woes, but if done correctly (that is a big "if") it certainly helps. This book offers interesting (depressing) info such as: We sell our recycled bales to China but a lot of this gets burned, dumped in waterways. Not to mention the poor working conditions of these processing plants. Some gets recycled. 11 million tons of plastic waste enters the ocean every YEAR. Only 9% of the plastics produced has been recycled. I still have questions and more to learn but some takeaways for me from this book: Do more to avoid one-use items (author gave the example of the coffee single pods). Re-using is better than recycling, and less consumption is better overall. When possible bring my own bag, utensils, take-home dishes, mug, etc. I do this with my water bottle so I need to expand this process.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ivy Digest

    It would be great if we could recycle everything so we can just consume without thought or guilt. But we can’t. Even if a plastic has the triangle symbol with a number inside, it doesn’t get recycled. It depends if your district has the facilities to recycle anything. “Sadly, a lot of our carefully separated and washed plastics end up getting shipped to developing countries to be burned or lost in the environment, harming people’s health and contributing to climate change.” Jennie is a lawyer and It would be great if we could recycle everything so we can just consume without thought or guilt. But we can’t. Even if a plastic has the triangle symbol with a number inside, it doesn’t get recycled. It depends if your district has the facilities to recycle anything. “Sadly, a lot of our carefully separated and washed plastics end up getting shipped to developing countries to be burned or lost in the environment, harming people’s health and contributing to climate change.” Jennie is a lawyer and sustainability consultant who advocates to reduce waste and single-use plastics. She educates organizations, businesses, and the public on how to recycle properly and choose sustainability. A well-written and comprehensive but brief guide on how recycling really works, what items to recycle or trash, how to dispose of non recyclables, and what you can do to reduce waste and stop plastic production. “The truth is—and you knew this was coming— that recycling alone won’t save us or the planet….The ultimate goal is to adopt sensible and effective policies to reduce single-use plastic and other packaging and hold producers responsible for making better packaging and paying for the cost of recycling and waste disposal (and cleanup).” “This book will educate, entertain, and get you fired up. We have a lot fo work to do. But I know that you’re up to the job!”

  15. 5 out of 5

    John_g

    Her advice fills a need in midst of otherwise confusing information online and from governments, who seem to have lost interest. She gives helpful specific advice plus technical explanations why recyclables differ. She also gives good advice on re-use versus recycle, but doesn't touch topics like reading newspapers in print vs online, or advantages of e-books like kindle. Her advice is to concentrate on what's super-recyclable: Metal, especially aluminum cans, Paper products with long fibers (car Her advice fills a need in midst of otherwise confusing information online and from governments, who seem to have lost interest. She gives helpful specific advice plus technical explanations why recyclables differ. She also gives good advice on re-use versus recycle, but doesn't touch topics like reading newspapers in print vs online, or advantages of e-books like kindle. Her advice is to concentrate on what's super-recyclable: Metal, especially aluminum cans, Paper products with long fibers (cardboard, paper bags), Plastic PET #1 and HDPE #2 bottles and jugs (not colored) Glass bottles and containers (where accepted). She takes the position it's better not to risk contaminating actual recyclables with what you wish were recyclable. She says to avoid unhelpful wishcycling. I got a few surprises. Clothing hangers are not recyclable but clean aluminum foil is and large clear/cloudy shampoo bottles (HDPE #2) are. My takeout containers show icon PP(5) which I'd incorrectly assumed to be recyclable, so I'll still re-use these to hold leftovers but afterwards I'll stop recycling and put into trash. PP(5) may be better than PS(6) but better to avoid wishcycling. And trash black food containers which can't be recycled.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jean Butler

    This was an eyeopener! I already knew that the plastics industry has bamboozled us into thinking everything is recyclable, when, in fact, very little is. This book goes the next mile telling us why things are or are not recyclable, what happens when we throw them in the recycling bin anyway, and how we really should dispose of them. The author and illustrator have done a terrific job of breaking background information and recycling guidance into clear and easily-digestible bites. Using it as a qu This was an eyeopener! I already knew that the plastics industry has bamboozled us into thinking everything is recyclable, when, in fact, very little is. This book goes the next mile telling us why things are or are not recyclable, what happens when we throw them in the recycling bin anyway, and how we really should dispose of them. The author and illustrator have done a terrific job of breaking background information and recycling guidance into clear and easily-digestible bites. Using it as a quick reference when sorting trash for recycling is also quick and easy. I borrowed this from my library, but I'm going to buy it to keep on hand to refer back to. (I just accidentally broke a surge suppressor - I know it was in there with special instructions!) Not only do I have a clearer picture of what's really recyclable (as the author says, if there's no end market to buy the plastic, then it is not really recyclable), it has given me guidelines for my purchases to avoid unnecessary use of plastics.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    Everyone needs a copy of this book! No more arguing with roommates and significant others about what can and cannot be recycled - are lids and caps okay? Is "boxed water" really better? (Spoiler alert: no, not really!) This book is easy and fun to read, but more importantly, it's empowering. We all want to do better for the environment but don't always know how. Corporations routinely put out false or misleading information about their impact on the planet (known as "green washing"), and combined Everyone needs a copy of this book! No more arguing with roommates and significant others about what can and cannot be recycled - are lids and caps okay? Is "boxed water" really better? (Spoiler alert: no, not really!) This book is easy and fun to read, but more importantly, it's empowering. We all want to do better for the environment but don't always know how. Corporations routinely put out false or misleading information about their impact on the planet (known as "green washing"), and combined with different cities having different rules about what can be recycled or not has left all of us scratching our heads. This book clearly spells out not only what's recyclable, but also inspires the reader to make better, cleaner choices. It does not wag any fingers nor nag at you to quit single use plastic entirely. Rather, it gives suggestions with different levels of commitment, so that everyone can easily incorporate a few small steps to make their lives greener and happier.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Books for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review This book was so interesting and informative! I expected I would skim a lot of it in the "is this specific thing recyclable" section, but I read every word because it was rather fascinating. The format of this book really enhances it's readability. Beautiful illustrations accompany the text and serve to break it up while simplifying and clarifying points that have been made. It was a Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Books for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review This book was so interesting and informative! I expected I would skim a lot of it in the "is this specific thing recyclable" section, but I read every word because it was rather fascinating. The format of this book really enhances it's readability. Beautiful illustrations accompany the text and serve to break it up while simplifying and clarifying points that have been made. It was a surprisingly light read for such a dense topic and even though it didn't take long to finish I feel like I know A LOT more about recycling. Romer doesn't sugar coat the subject but does suggest that certain changes in laws, regulations, and consumer behaviors could improve the recycling process and make it more like that environmental savior that marketing campaigns have been claiming it to be since the 1970s.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    3.5* The other zero-waste books I've read focus on reducing waste and recycling is presented as a last resort at best and pointless at worst. But for many of us who haven't gotten to fully zero-waste, recycling is still an key part of the cycle and so it is important to understand what happens to the material once we toss it in the blue bin. I found the text and infographics surprisingly interesting and engaging. A helpful introduction to the subject. 3.5* The other zero-waste books I've read focus on reducing waste and recycling is presented as a last resort at best and pointless at worst. But for many of us who haven't gotten to fully zero-waste, recycling is still an key part of the cycle and so it is important to understand what happens to the material once we toss it in the blue bin. I found the text and infographics surprisingly interesting and engaging. A helpful introduction to the subject.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anyeliz

    Super informative and easy to read! The illustrations are not only beautiful and eye-catching but also help to understand the author's points. It provides a set of resources in the back to continue learning more about reducing the use of plastics and discusses not only the ecological and social consequences of single-use plastics but also provides alternatives to start making more informed decisions for reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic in your everyday life. Super informative and easy to read! The illustrations are not only beautiful and eye-catching but also help to understand the author's points. It provides a set of resources in the back to continue learning more about reducing the use of plastics and discusses not only the ecological and social consequences of single-use plastics but also provides alternatives to start making more informed decisions for reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic in your everyday life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brigid

    A great book that explains how recycling works and what types of objects can and cannot be recycled, then goes into an exhaustive list of different things that may or may not be eligible for the recycle bin, which really reinforces the information in the first part. The book ends with some more general issues and paths for activism. It's well sourced and well written, and the lively, colorful illustrations by Christie Young make it an attractive package. A great book that explains how recycling works and what types of objects can and cannot be recycled, then goes into an exhaustive list of different things that may or may not be eligible for the recycle bin, which really reinforces the information in the first part. The book ends with some more general issues and paths for activism. It's well sourced and well written, and the lively, colorful illustrations by Christie Young make it an attractive package.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Two Readers in Love

    A useful and informative book. If you can't avoid them, I learned that you can keep the bottle caps on, and take any outer film-wrap off, of plastic beverage bottles. Also, pizza boxes ARE recyclable as long as they do not have any food waste or grease (you can tear off the greasy parts and put that in the trash.) A useful and informative book. If you can't avoid them, I learned that you can keep the bottle caps on, and take any outer film-wrap off, of plastic beverage bottles. Also, pizza boxes ARE recyclable as long as they do not have any food waste or grease (you can tear off the greasy parts and put that in the trash.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marimily

    Really useful book that answered a lot of questions about what's recyclable. I put effort and time into recycling which I don't want to be wasted. Also it helps to know what is actually recyclable when purchasing items. For example, clear plastic is much more likely to get recycled. I also learned you should remove the plastic sleeves on plastic containers. Really useful book that answered a lot of questions about what's recyclable. I put effort and time into recycling which I don't want to be wasted. Also it helps to know what is actually recyclable when purchasing items. For example, clear plastic is much more likely to get recycled. I also learned you should remove the plastic sleeves on plastic containers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shira London

    This very useful book makes it easy to figure out what/how to recycle. I learned a number of things I hadn't understood about recycling and corrected a number of errors I'd been making! The book is also laid out really well, so you can turn to a specific item to easily find out what to do. A terrific resource! This very useful book makes it easy to figure out what/how to recycle. I learned a number of things I hadn't understood about recycling and corrected a number of errors I'd been making! The book is also laid out really well, so you can turn to a specific item to easily find out what to do. A terrific resource!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abbey

    This was quick, simple, and beautifully illustrated. I appreciated learning more about the whole recycling process! Recycling and limiting waste takes work, but hopefully if we all start somewhere and gradually increase or sustainability, everyone will be better off.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate Wilburn

    This was very helpful and I felt a pretty comprehensive guide to recycling. I learned a lot and would recommend it to anyone who recycles but would like to feel more responsible about their practice. Almost every questionable recyclable item that I've ever pondered was featured in this book! This was very helpful and I felt a pretty comprehensive guide to recycling. I learned a lot and would recommend it to anyone who recycles but would like to feel more responsible about their practice. Almost every questionable recyclable item that I've ever pondered was featured in this book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Thank you, Jennie! I learned so much! Reduce! Reduce! Reduce!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lacey Marie

    More about the process of recycling then what can be recycled.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Montefour

    Great book! Very well written, factual information in an easy to read format. Highly recommend it

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