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Here's what you're actually supposed to do with 'soft plastics' that cannot be recycled at home: 'This is super helpful'

"Always a good excuse for me to take a lap around Target."

"Always a good excuse for me to take a lap around Target."

Photo Credit: @wildminimalist / Instagram

"Soft plastics" that can't be recycled at home are difficult to avoid. Thankfully, one entrepreneur revealed what to do instead of throwing those plastics in the trash. 

How do you know whether something qualifies as a soft plastic? Wild Minimalist (@wildminimalist), who has more than 140,000 followers on Instagram, said it's as easy as trying to stretch the material with your thumb. 

The scoop

In a 2021 post with nearly 9,000 likes on Instagram, Wild Minimalist demonstrated her plastic-stretching technique, noting that a lot of soft plastics can be recycled.

πŸ—£οΈ What confuses you most about recycling protocol?

πŸ”˜ Which materials I can recycle πŸ“¦

πŸ”˜ How clean the material needs to be 🧼

πŸ”˜ What the plastic numbers mean ♻️

πŸ”˜ Nothing at all πŸ˜‡

πŸ—³οΈ Click your choice to see results and speak your mind

This includes shopping bags, bread and tortilla bags, zip-top sandwich bags, and items with a "How2Recycle" emblem like Amazon envelopes.Β Β 

According to the post, just ensure the material is clean and dry β€” e.g., no bread crumbs or mayonnaise residue β€” and remove paper shipping labels before finding a local recycling drop-off. PlasticFilmRecycling.org (rebranded to PlasticMakers.org) has resources to assist your search.

"Sadly, most curbside recycling programs don't accept soft plastics," Wild Minimalist cautioned. 

How it's helping

This time-saving hack to identify recyclable plastics could be huge. 

According to a survey from the World Economic Forum, SAP, and Qualtrics, even though more than 75% of people worldwide think recycling is important, a lack of knowledge on how to participate in programs is a common barrier preventing them from doing so.  

When plastic trash makes its way into our environment, it can contribute to the starvation of marine life while releasing harmful chemicals into our water and food supply. 

Meanwhile, Dusan Losic β€” a professor at the University of Adelaide's School of Chemical Engineering β€” said in 2013 that researchers have been developing ways to recycle plastic bags into "high-added value products," as reported by ScienceDirect

What everyone's saying

A number of commenters were thrilled with the tips from the Instagram post, while others passed along their favorite recycling locations. 

"This is super helpful!!" one person wrote. 

"Yayy love doing this at my local grocery store!" another said. 

"Major stores like Target and Walmart often offer drop off sites! Always a good excuse for me to take a lap around Target," wrote another. 

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