There are small ways to live more sustainably and take care of your environment. Receipts are an example of something small, but an item found frequently in pockets or purses.
Most receipts are made out of thermal paper, which is coated with a potentially harmful chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. It is used because it is inexpensive, resists heat and allows for inkless printing. Here are some good, better and best ways to deal with receipts:
Good: Don’t recycle thermal paper. When you receive a receipt, check to see if it is a thermal or paper receipt. Thermal receipts are glossy because of BPA. You can confirm that it is thermal by rubbing the receipt with your fingernail or a coin, just like a scratch and sniff. If the receipt discolors, it is thermal paper.
Since BPA can be harmful to recycle, just put these glossy receipts in the regular trash. When thermal paper containing BPA gets recycled, it can contaminate other paper products like paper bags or toilet paper.
Better: Choose paper. Make an effort to ask the salesperson if the store uses paper or thermal receipts before he or she prints it out. Paper receipts are safe to recycle, but if you find out it is thermal paper, ask the salesperson to not print the receipt.
Best: Avoid receipts. One way to avoid receipts is to ask the sales clerk before he or she makes the transaction that you do not need a receipt. Most companies are now offering to send receipts via email or text, which may be the best solution to avoid thermal paper receipts and still have a record of your expenses.
Recycle Utah, a community nonprofit and drop-off recycling center, provides these weekly tips. Visit its website for more information: http://www.recycleutah.org.