Daily Choices

Recycle Everything! (Well almost)

Don’t trash what can be reused or recycled.

When you’re about to throw something in the trash can, tell yourself “stop!” and make sure the item is not recyclable. A tremendous amount of the packaging, paper products, containers and plastics we discard every day are recyclable. Recycling keeps waste out of our landfills, helping to preserve open spaces; reduces use of natural resources; and creates new materials like polyester, polar fleece, carpeting, park benches, playground equipment, decking materials and more.

Most Montgomery County residents have curbside recycling pickup. Those that don’t can hire a private hauler or drop off for free at Montgomery County Transfer Stations. For things that can still be reused, consider donating or freecycling; see the Resources tab.


County Resources

See everything that’s recyclable through Montgomery County’s recycling service, including not-so-common items, and how to do it

Get all the details on your trash and recycling collection, including schedules

Request your free recycling bin

Find a County Transfer Station where you can drop off your recycling

Identify your household hazardous waste and learn how to properly dispose of it

Gaithersburg residents: Participate in your curbside recycling and leaf collection programs


Non-County Resources

Refurbish Mac computers locally

Earth911.org for recycling/reusing household items

Greendisk for computers and electronics

Freecycle to give or get free unwanted stuff

Organize a community swap. The Center for a New American Dream has a lot of resources on how to organize and host a swap meet for clothing, books, food/recipes, seeds and more. Before you recycle something or throw it away, see if someone else can use it!

Video: Watch your recycled soda bottle become polyester


Donating or recycling unwanted items is free and helps others in need while keeping unnecessary waste out of our system. Check with your tax advisor — you may be eligible for a tax credit for donated items!

Get a free recycling bin from Montgomery County.

Gaithersburg residents: get a green bin from the city.

Rockville residents: get a brown recycling cart from Rockville.


Financial Incentives

Recycle your old working refrigerator or freezer with Pepco and you could receive up to $50. If you recycle a working room air conditioner at the same time, you can receive an extra $25.


Doesn’t the recycling process still use energy and cause pollution?

Yes, it does, but generally at lower, sometimes much lower, levels than manufacturing the items from scratch. Additionally, the whole process of extracting or harvesting natural resources — mining and logging, for example — is eliminated. Sometimes recycling costs more than manufacturing from scratch because the environmental costs are not built into the raw material cost. And like buying organic produce, sometimes it costs a little more to do the right thing. Of course, the best solution is simply to consume less.

(12) Comments

  1. raingarden Jan 14, 2012

    We often do not recycle plastic, we down cycle it into benches etc. Check put TED Talks “Mike Biddle: We can recycle plastic” at http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_biddle.html

    I heard you can convert plastics to oil. Before the County incinerator we were told to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I hear a lot about recycle, but hear little or nothing about Reduce and Reuse. If we start asking for less plastic, the stores will hear and use less.

  2. Gerard P Apr 27, 2012

    I have watched the cleaning lady collecting the trash as she makes her rounds in out Montgomery County Government office. She wheels around a large trash can. She picks up the desk trash can & dumps it in the large trash can on wheels. Then she picks up the recycle can & dumps it in the SAME can (no, there’s no separate bag in the big trash can-it’s all one bag).
    I sort of doubt that she is the only clean-up person who does this & I’m wondering if any of the clean-up staff actually separate the recycling trash from the regular trash. If not-why are we waisting our time separating the trash in house?

    • dep May 01, 2012

      This is a valid concern Gerard. We had a similar concern in our office. What we did was draft a memo to our office manager stating the problem and asked that the facility manager for our building be notified of the practice. The facilities manager talked with our department about what we could do to remind janitorial staff about separating the trash from the recycling. We developed signs on trash cans and recycling cans in Spanish so the staff understood which bin was which, and how they should handle the contents. The facilities manager also provided extra waste cans for the janitorial staff so they could separate the trash as it was collected.
      Perhaps you and a few colleagues who have witnessed this practice can follow these steps to make the change in your office too!

  3. sungdo park Jan 28, 2013

    My home recycle can often has been rejected because of it contains multiple items (paper cubs, plastics, bottles, and some of foreign things). the note written, [NO TRASH]. Then how can we separate them?
    The services are often neglected (undone) my home.
    My home address: 15221 New Hampshire Ave. Silver Spring, Md 20905

  4. Marion&Jim Jul 28, 2013

    I read that Montgomery County wants you to put comingled recycled materials (like plastics, cans & glass) into ONE blue container — and put your PAPER in a 2nd blue can (or bundle the paper) — so that Paper is separate from Recycables.
    My question: If someone puts their paper loose into the blue can of recyclables, is it picked up anyway? Or does that action deserve an “orange sticker”?

  5. Kim Crawford Feb 26, 2016

    Great post! Recycling is extremely important for our environment, and to keep the whole process with the rubbish to go well. Therefore the people have to be aware how and what could be recycled!

  6. Kendall Ryder Jun 27, 2016

    There are so many items that get thrown into the trashcan that can otherwise be recycled! Many of us are guilty of it. Like you point tout, there are many benefits of recycling from keeping our landfills free of waste to keeping the world a prettier and cleaner place. It would be so easy to remember to recycle if we just put a recycling bin next to our trashcan. That way we can’t forget!

  7. Craig Apr 09, 2017

    So true and relevant. I do check our trashes before throwing them in the trash bins. This does not only contributes largely in our environment but this gives me fulfillment every time we do waste disposal. For our hazardous wastes, for toxic ones, we seek help from waste disposal professionals to do this for us to make sure everything is in order and safe. Just my two cents.

  8. Peggy Owens Jul 07, 2017

    Is there anyplace to recycle old gym shoes that are not suitable to wear or old clothing that are clean but have small stains or holes or worn out elastic that nobody would want to wear. I am hoping the raw material can be reused for something. Thank you.

    • jjones Jul 07, 2017

      Thanks for the question Peggy! I chatted with our folks at Solid Waste Services who directed me to this helpful guide on their website. http://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/DepHowDoI/material.aspx?tag=clothing-shoes&material_key=50

      The site says that clothing and shoes are accepted for recycling at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station.

      In addition, I know some gyms have sneaker recycling programs as well as Nike has a reuse-a-shoe program where you can bring old gym shoes of any brand to a Nike store where they turn it into a material used at athletic fields.

  9. jane De Angeli Jan 31, 2018

    we have some small appliances – humidifiers and an electric kettle. does anyone take these for recycling or possibly as donations to repair and sell ? (i don’t want them back) the transfer station does not take them except as trash. i have a feeling that they can be repaired probably just buildup but i have tried home solutions and they still don’t properly work.

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