Don’t Get Caught Being a Wish-Cycler

What does wish-cycling mean and how does it affect us, our community, and our planet?

February 25, 2022

The problem? Wish-cycling.

Meaning, despite the best of intentions, and often because of them, wish-cycling is when sustainably-focused consumers place questionable items in recycling bins in hopes of them being recycled... whether it is recyclable or not.

So, what does that actually mean?

Imagine – you’re standing in the kitchen, ready to toss your to-go container from that restaurant last night and you tell yourself, “it’s plastic and has a recycling triangle on it… so, it’s recyclable right?” You may truly believe you’re helping the environment by recycling – we all want to recycle, right? However, your good intentions can negatively impact the recycling process if done incorrectly.

Recycling Plant Mishaps

Typically, recycling plants are fully machine-operated. These machines are strategically set up to take in and process specific, tested and approved items.

So, the items you’ve wished-cycled often end up getting caught in the machines, which cause them to jam, and even break down. 

When a machine is down and out, it ultimately leads to back up in the daily process and reduces the plant’s recycling efforts until the blockage is cleared. 

Creating Extra Waste 

We’re told to keep recycling top of mind – however, in the effort to recycle, wish-cycling will actually create more waste, leading to counterproductive efforts.

When a non-recyclable item is brought in, the other materials it’s been placed with, are contaminated – leading everything within that batch, may have to be diverted to garbage. 

The bottom line? Wish-cycling is the guilty culprit. 

Your improperly disposed of items, cause compliant recyclable items to end up in the landfill, creating more pollution and increasing the amount of methane gas released into the environment.

Recycling Tips 

The good news? Wish-cycling can easily be avoided. 

By making simple lifestyle adjustments, you can break your wish-cycling habits. 

When out and about –  keep eco-friendly choices top of mind to eliminate the amount of plastic being diverted to landfills.

  • Bottles and Cans – Pay attention to the label and choose recycled glass or plastic.
  • Reusable Water Bottles and Mugs – Having these on hand, eliminates the need to create daily waste. They keep your beverages warmer (and colder) and make excellent gifts, too. Bring your to-go mug when you’re stopping for morning coffee! 
  • Reusable Shopping Bags – They’re affordable, easy to find, and available in all sizes. Also, they’re not strictly for grocery shopping! Roll them up and store them compactly in your vehicle, so you have them on hand when you’re shopping for your new jeans, too! 

At-Home Tips:

  • Identify Your Household Items – Grab a piece of paper, jot down the household items you typically keep in your home – identify how to properly dispose of, and stick it on the fridge or by your bins, so it’s front and center each time you’re disposing. 
  • Compost Bins – Composting is a natural, alternative solution for minimizing our waste stream. To help preserve our planet, purchase your compost bin at cost ($55) – thanks to Rockland Green’s partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County. For more information or to purchase a bin, call (845) 429-7085. 

Put Wish-Cycling To a Stop

Still not sure of what goes where? We have you covered – visit Rockland Green’s ‘How Do I Recycle or Dispose Of…’ tool. Enter your item, click ‘search’ and there you are – you’re properly disposing of your waste!

For recyclable items, before placing them in the recycling bin,  be sure it has been emptied, cleaned, dried.

And always remember… when in doubt – throw it out!

To continue your knowledge of proper disposal, recycling, and tips to improve the environment, Rockland Green is the leading resource for you. 

Contact us with any questions you may have! 

We thank you for your efforts in helping Rockland County reduce its impact on our planet – It’s easy when we do it together.