Welcome to Week 4 of Earth Month

This week’s theme is recycle


Thank you for participating in Earth Month with us! Check out the tips below and learn what it takes to be an expert in recycling!


Level 1: Novice Green Building Professional – LEED Green Associate


As a LEED Green Associate, you need to master the 5 streams of waste: paper, plastic, glass, metals and cardboard.


Recycling is referred to as “commingled recycling” when the collection is comprised of a variety of recyclable materials rather than being sorted separately upon initial collection. Make sure you wash off food, and empty drink containers before putting objects into your commingled recycling. This will help to avoid contamination of paper and cardboard.


What you can and cannot recycle is sometimes specific to your recycling company. Make sure to give your provider a call and learn their limitations. For example, not all recycling centers accept glass, but some will accept styrofoam.


*IMPORTANT* Paper towels are NOT recyclable. However, these are compostable. Unfortunately, you’ll have to throw those away if you don’t have a compost bin.


Level 2: Intermediate Green Building Professional – LEED Advocate


The planet needs your help to keep waterways free of pollutants. You can help by being an advocate for keeping hazardous waste out of landfills.


The 3 hazardous materials that we’ve identified are:

  • Batteries
  • Bulbs
  • eWaste


Eliminate single-use batteries all together! Invest in rechargeable batteries and a battery recharging station. You can find charging stations that work for both AA and AAA batteries.


No matter the type of bulb, it needs to avoid the trash. CFL lamps contain a small amount of mercury, so they must be collected for proper disposal. Many home improvement stores have bins where you can bring your lights for landfill diversion.


eWaste, aka electronic waste, needs to be diverted from the landfill as well. eWaste collection sites accept a variety of goods such as computers and their accessories, data center equipment, office equipment, mobile devices, entertainment equipment, medical equipment and so much more.


Level 3: Advanced Green Building Professional – LEED AP


Purchase materials made of recycled content! Some examples of products you can buy are paper towels, copy paper and pens.


Look for items that have a higher post-consumer level than pre-consumer.


Also check for the Green Seal label. Green Seal Standards are sustainability standards for products, services and companies. These standards promote transparency and provide guidelines for manufacturers and service providers. Green Seal has issued 33 standards that cover over 400 products and services. To find green products and services, click here.


Level 4: Expert Green Building Professional – Sustainability Maven


We have a challenge for all you sustainability mavens: recycle thin-filmed plastic.


A common thin-film plastic material is a single-use plastic bag. Other thin-filmed plastics can be candy wrappers, salad bags, and almost any other plastic food bag. These cannot go into your commingled recycling.


Thin-filmed plastic is the number one contaminate in commingled recycling facilities.


These plastics clogs up shredders and can severely damage the machines.


We challenge you to take initiative to collect thin-filmed plastic in your home and workplace, and take it to the recycling center located in your grocery store.

Want to learn about recyclable and renewable products in LEED projects? Check out our course here.