Spring cleaning is well underway across St. Charles County, as residents begin projects to de-clutter their homes. And, while getting rid of some of those unneeded items may require an extra step because of recent changes to municipality curbside collections, St. Charles County’s Recycle Works locations continue to accept most all recyclable materials, according to a press release.

“About 80 percent or what we use every day is recyclable,” said Ryan Tilley, director of the Division of Environmental Health and Protection. “Instead of trash, recycling can turn that item into new, usable goods.”

Tilley notes aluminum and tin cans, glass, most plastics, cardboard and dry paper, as well as televisions, computers, light bulbs and household chemicals are all recyclable. All of these items, along with clothing and textiles, are accepted at Recycle Works Central (60 Triad S., in St. Charles) and Recycle Works West (2110 E. Pitman, in Wentzville). Please note glass is only accepted at Recycle Works West.

“We encourage all residents to continue recycling,” Tilley said. “Last year, our Recycle Works locations processed more than 1.5 million pounds of recyclable material and we’ve collected more than 45 million pounds since opening our facilities in 1990. This has reduced clutter in St. Charles County homes, decreased the burden on community landfills and given additional use to limited resources.

Should cleaning uncover leftover materials such as pesticides, oil-based paints, cleaning chemicals, automobile fluids and other household hazardous waste (HHW), the Recycle Works locations can safely dispose of those items for residents.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays, now through Sept. 30, residents can bring these unwanted items to either facility, no appointment necessary. As an added convenience, the HHW disposal also is available on the last Saturday of the month at Recycle Works Central and year-round at Recycle Works West. There is a $25 fee for loads up to 50 pounds, plus an additional fee of $1 for each pound above 50. For more information, visit sccmo.org/RecycleWorks or call 636-949-1800.

While recycling is effective, it’s only one part of the sustainability triangle. On average, each American generates about one ton of trash every year, but small changes can reduce the waste we create.

Here are a few suggestions to consider:

• Instead of plastic sandwich bags and disposable utensils, take lunch to work or school in plastic carriers and purchase an inexpensive set of dinnerware that can be washed daily.

• Take a reusable mug or water bottle for visits to the local coffee shop and gym.

• Use torn clothing or linens as cleaning rags and donate lightly used items for resale.

• Build a backyard composter to turn leftover food into nutritious soil for gardens and potted plants.

• Swap natural products for chemical cleaning supplies and pesticides.

• Take reusable, cloth bags to carry groceries and recycle plastic bags through the store system.

“Living sustainably is a conscious effort to protect our planet now so that we can enjoy a healthy home tomorrow,” said Deb Christensen, St. Charles County environmental educator. “Most people recognize that an aluminum can may return to the shelf soon after it’s recycled or that parts within electronics can be refurbished into new devices. But, there are other actions to consider. Simple things like turning off water faucets while brushing teeth and light switches when leaving the room or choosing energy-efficient appliances and windows can enhance our community and our world for years to come.”