Living out of the box(es)

By 2024, over 90% of all Americans will have ordered something online. All that online shopping means lots more packaging—cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, hard plastic, and other materials to make sure your necessities arrive in good shape.

stacked boxes

Recycling cardboard is easy: Just break down the box, then place flat, dry cardboard in your blue recycling cart (making sure the cart lid is closed keeps items from flying away). If you’re a power shopper, you may need to request an extra recycling pickup (available up to four times each year). Drivers can’t accept more than what fits in the cart, so save any overflow for your next collection day.

While cardboard is one of the original recyclable materials, it’s still smart to reduce as much packaging as you can—it helps prevent clutter in your house and shrinks your carbon footprint. One idea? If you are ordering multiple items, choose the option to combine your orders in one box instead of having them shipped separately.

And if you have too many boxes for your cart, try offering them to a neighbor or friend who’s moving. You can post a notice on a neighborhood website or bulletin board!

bag with scoop icon

Bulk is back

If you’re shopping locally, the site has tips for buying bulk during COVID. You can even take your own bags to win a personal “reduce and reuse” award.

Big numbers from 2020


Last year, RecycleSmart residents stepped up their game!

recyclling statistics - contact us for more information

We picked up 32,543 tons of recycling, 64,812 tons of compost and 47,964 tons of trash. 230 tons of leftover Christmas trees were composted. Starting daily at 3am, Republic's dispatchers, mechanics, and staff keep 90 drivers, 75 trucks, and 75 routes. Compared to pre-pandemic times, there are 300 tons more residential material per week!

Where does it go?

miscellaneous stuff in a garage
where does the material go - contact us for more information
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Seeing a New light

Yes, we’ve been through some changes in light bulb technology. Because light bulbs contain different chemicals and types of glass, they need different handling. Some go in the trash, some can be recycled, and some are hazardous waste! But we’ve got you—bring your questions to and we’ll show you the way.



What to do when school is online but your club still wants to make a difference? Devon Bradley and Miramonte High’s Environmental Solutions Club formed Project HEART, which is donating 100% compostable (uncoated) paper-based takeout containers to participating Orinda restaurants.

With COVID impacting businesses every day, Devin and Miramonte High’s Environmental Solutions Club are offering support to the restaurants in town. Unfortunately, compostable materials can cost more than landfill-doomed materials like plastic and polystyrene. “Originally, the club aimed to ban plastic takeout materials through city council, but plans had to change when COVID-19 hit.”

We hear you, Devon! You can support the project and keep up to date with their work at

We’re All In

Beginning January 1, 2022, a new law requires Californians to keep organics out of the landfill cart and participate in composting programs. For more info, visit

Renew your shampoo

man washing hair

I’ve switched to shampoo and conditioner bars—what’s the right way to recycle my empty bottles?

—Gary P., Moraga


Thanks for asking! To recycle your goopy bottles, please give them a rinse (this is a good way to get a few extra uses out of your products, too!), then close them up and put them in the blue cart.

We can take shampoo, soap, body wash, and other hard plastic bottles. We’ll even take (empty) prescription bottles; just take the labels off for privacy.

If you’re on a zero-waste journey, you might check out toothpaste tablets! Tubes like the ones containing face wash, sunscreen, lotions and toothpaste can’t be recycled.

shampoo bar saying lucky me i'm plastic free!
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Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Send your ideas to


Poetry Contest

Hey kids—grab a pen and paper!

We’re looking for a new way to help remind our community to clean their recyclables!

Need some inspiration? To the right is a poem to get you started.

Please ask an adult to send your poetry (or song!) to with your name, age and city.

We’ll select one winner to receive a prize and be featured in the next issue of RecycleSmart!

image of poem

Nothing better than shiny clean plastic. In fact, when it's dry, it's SUPER fantastic. That greasy pizza box and old piece of toast cannot be recycled and must be compost. All these boxes make my head spin, but all can be flattened for my recycle bin. Now I'm ready for Republic to come by, to pick up recyclables that are empty, clean and dry!