Many of us had the idea of recycling pounded in our heads ever since we were little. We know it helps our environment stay green. But some of us may have been taught the wrong recycling practices. We’re here to fix that. Here are common recycling mistakes many people make.

1. Recycling Plastic Bags

The only way you can recycle plastic bags is to take them to the nearest recycling center. Various cities have already banned plastic bags from retail and grocery stores. Some cities include Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle.

2.  Removing the labels from cans and bottles

Surprisingly, this step is unnecessary. So save yourself some time and keep those labels on. The same thing goes for staples and other metal material on paper and cardboard.

3. Shredded paper

Please do not throw shredded paper into the recycling bin. The pieces are too small and will fall through the cracks of the sorting machines and will make a mess on the floor of the facility. However, some recycling centers do accept shredded paper as long as it is in a paper bag and labeled “shredded paper.”

4. Recycle containers that have food on them

This may surprise you, but any receptacle that had perishable food touching it has to go in the trash. This includes pizza boxes and Chinese takeout containers. Greasy cardboard can mess up the entire load of recyclables at a center.

5. Not washing out cans before recycling

Stop being lazy and wash out your cans! This also includes washing out aluminum, plastic and glass bottles too.

6. Only white paper can be recycled

Many people assume only white paper can be recycled, but any type of paper can be recycled. This includes paper plates and paper bags, however the exception is paper with some kind of coating. Just remember, if you can tear it, you can recycle it.

7. Recycling before repurposing

Think about repurposing your recyclable items before throwing them into a bin. Check out our ideas to recycle plastic bottles and Upcycling Your Garbage DIY.

8. Not recycling milk and juice cartons

These cartons are totally recyclable and are in high demand!

9. Not placing trash and recycling bins together

This is a common mistake at your workplace or at a shopping center. Placing both bins beside each other encourages people to make a good decision. If there is just one bin, there is a temptation to throw both trash and recyclables in that bin.

10. Unaware of the numbers

Here’s a rundown of the numbers that are recyclable in most communities.

Recyclable numbers: 1, 2, 5, 6

Not Recyclable: 3, 4, 7