It has always been a problem for me since I moved from Russia to separate my stuff into compost/recycle/garbage cans by material.

I find it to difficult and ineffective to memorize where each particular thing goes. I need a list of general principles that would allow me to make the separation quick and simple. How do I define whether something is okay to compost or recycle?

By now I used the following process. If something is organic and can rot it goes into the compost can. If it's made of paper or plastic or glass or metal or their combination it goes into recycle can. This would not let me clearly define, when an object is sent to the garbage can. I can see how these rules are incomplete and erroneous.

I also don't know if I can use a single plastic bag to wrap all the compostables. Should I use paper bags instead or maybe some special biodegradable plasic ones?

P.S. I moved from Russia to the US relatively recently and many aspects of life differ a lot. That's definitely not the last question about how are the things done here.

  • 1
    Plastic bags not good. Anything that rots is good compost material and great worm food including paper bags, news paper. Metal geat recycling material so I think you have it right.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 20, 2016 at 22:32
  • Welcome to the US Igor, thank you for posting a question. I hope you learn to enjoy our cultures and people, we are truly a "melting pot" of immigrants blended together to form a nation. We are glad to have you with us. Mar 21, 2016 at 0:09
  • @JimmyFix-it Thank you! I am definitely enjoying the US culture more than the ones I faced in my home country (I believe, the USA and Russia have their high level of diversity as a common trait). I'll be asking more 'silly' questions about house keeping since there are so many differences. I don't want to be a black sheep when it comes to common good practices and laws. It's surprising how much more people do indeed care about the nature and environment compared to where I came from. There's no culture of garbage separation/recycling in Russia. All the waste just goes to the same garbage can. Mar 21, 2016 at 0:19

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you have Single Stream Recycling for most everything else, so I don't see any improvement needed there. Except, to rinse everything out so it doesn't stink up the place or the Recycling Can.

The compostables (just do food scraps) go in the regular trash for most people, put them in a plastic bag to keep the wretched stink down. If you buy into that "Eating Healthy" nonsense. But, I haven't heard of a Compost Pick Up from the Town or City Service (Public Works Dept.).

You usually dump the Food Scraps in a specific area of your yard, pouring out a bucket or tossing a paper bag on the pile. But, to do it right you need to till-it or turn & mix it with a Shovel or Pitch Fork monthly to get the composting action to happen.

However, there are Private Compost Pickup services all over the country. So, you may have 1 or more in your area. You can Google Compost Pick Up or you can search through sites like CompostNow.org for someone in your area.

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