Rinse Your Recyclables — Without Wasting Water

Items in your recycling bin need to be clean in order to be recycled. 

Why? Dirty items can cause contamination and potentially ruin an entire batch of recycling, which results in getting sent to the landfill instead. To make sure your recycling actually gets recycled, and to avoid attracting pests such as insects, rats and raccoons, make sure items placed in your recycling bin are clean and dry. 

At the same time, we should aim to use as little water as possible while getting our items clean. So how can we rinse recyclables while also conserving our water? 

Follow these tips:

  1. Try “dry cleaning” first. Use a spoon, spatula, or cloth to scrape any remaining food into your green waste bin and wipe your item clean.
  2. If needed, add water to your container — aim for a quarter of the container’s capacity. (If the food in the container is particularly sticky, use warm or hot water.)
  3. Close the container (if it has a lid) and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Pour out the water into the next item you need to clean or into a container (like a wash basin or bowl) to use for cleaning another item.

Aim to get the item 95-100% clear and clean. If possible, remove any labeling — and as long as your item is dry — it should be good to recycle. 

Have a Dishwasher? 

If you have the space, add recyclables to your next load. When full, dishwashers are designed to optimize water usage.

Leftover Water? 

Once all your dishes are done, use leftover dishwater to wash your recyclables. Alternatively, place a bucket in the shower to catch water to use for cleaning as well.