General Question

SamIAm's avatar

Is it better to compost or recycle things that can go either way?

Asked by SamIAm (8628 points ) July 5th, 2010

Like paper bags… should we compost them, or recycle?

Paper towels, napkins, etc…

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10 Answers

zophu's avatar

Compost them, keep things as local as possible.

jaytkay's avatar

I like the satisfaction of knowing exactly where things end up. Compost.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Paper bags, paper towel and TP rolls, used paper napkins and paper towels all break down nicely. I would not compost paper towels that were used with nonorganic cleaning products, though.

laureth's avatar

Paper towels, napkins, and tissue cannot generally be recycled. Every time paper is recycled, the fibers break down a bit. Office paper has high quality, long fibers (and recyclers love it), but by the time it’s tissue and cardboard, the fibers are generally too short to do anything with. I compost those.

I’ll also throw in paper bags, if I have only a few. They’re a great “brown” to throw in if I have too many “greens.” However, if I have a lot of them, they go to recycling. Recyclers love bulk – anything in quantity is easier to find a market for – but it’s easier to compost just a couple bags or sections of newsprint.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’d compost. No transport associated with doing that. Transport = carbon emission.

SamIAm's avatar

I don’t personally compost, I put it in the buildings compost bin that is collected just like the other garbage and recycling, unfortunately. Thanks guys!

UScitizen's avatar

I’ve got a neighbor that could go either way. I’m not sure if she should be composted or recycled. ... (I’m joking, OK?)

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

Wow, it sure is interesting how the informaiton that is shared amongst us here, is very enlightening. I am glad to have become of fluther. Thanks everyone for sharing. I fortunately, cand and do both, depending an the amount of material and what is most orgainic, that I compost. Since I do pay for the service to be picked up I do make sure that all recycled material is seperated. @stranger_in_a_strange_land you are right about emmission output.

laureth's avatar

It’s not always true that shipping things away for recycling is worse (in this case, worse than landfilling). This is a British article, but their reasoning seems sound.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

@laureth I clicked on your link and it took me to TreeHugger, thanks I also am a subscriber of TreeHugger. Great research on your part, also, it gives all a different perspective from what they may be currently hearing or reading. Thanks for sharing.

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