Tales of a Recycling Loser

So it's near the end of yoga class today and the talk turns to recycling. One woman states that for her family of 5 (including 3 teenagers), they produce about 2 large bags of garbage per month. I couldn't help myself. "Per month?" I blurted out. "Between Blair and I we produce 2 bags a week!"

Slowly heads turned my way as mouths fell open in horror. "What on earth are you throwing away?" asked someone.

I racked my brain. Just what was all that stuff in our kitchen trash can? Kitty poo wrapped in plastic bags. Used tissues. Some styrofoam packing from a new skillet we just bought. And paper towels.

"Paper towels?" asked everyone aghast. "You still use paper towels?"

At this point it was too late to lie. "Um, yes?" I said. "I clean countertops with them."

I may have committed a social faux paus from which I will never recover. Or not. The group was actually very kind and opened my eyes to the fact that I am missing a ton of recycling opportunities. Toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes? No more throwing away for me. Now they will get mashed in with the cereal and frozen food cartons in the recycling bin under our sink. I will begin to wean myself off paper towels and start using cloth rags to clean the counters. (Although this led to discussion about is it cheaper to wash and clean the rags or use paper towels. No one knew.) I may not go so far as to scrub the peanut butter jar out but then again, I might.

It's really going to be a matter of paying attention. The women admitted it can be a bit time consuming to try and wash and recycle everything that can be recycled, but I also think I could do a whole lot better without too much added effort on my part. I've been working out so I ought to be able to handle carrying that empty cardboard toilet paper roll to the recycling bin.

Does anyone have any recycling tips? Anything not obvious I maybe could be recycling?