Montgomery County has recently added new capability to its recycling program. Check the link for full details, but the highlights are that, in the paper category, waxed cartons and food packaging is now recylable, along with the newspapers, household paper, and cardboard that we have been recycling for years. All of these items can go into the large blue rolling bin that has the lid. As a matter of procedure, I keep a paper grocery bag near the kitchen, into which goes paper egg cartons, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, newspapers, magazines, junk mail & envelopes, and now, milk cartons and the boxes from frozen foods. When full, this goes out to the blue bin. In my home office, I keep a yard waste bag (the paper kind that people use to put out leaves in the fall) in the closet and fill it with the shreddings from my shredder. All mail that has our name or any other personal information, confidential work papers, financial papers that are no longer needed get shredded, then the shreddings fill a yard waste bag, which goes into the blue bin when the bag is full. That way, no paper leaves our house in the garbage.
Also noteworthy is that practically anything that is plastic (short of plastic bags, which can be recycled at the collection bins at our grocery stores) can be recycled in the smaller open blue bin. The new guidelines now include containers like Tupperware and other semi-permanent food storage containers. Empty aerosol cans and their lids are allowed. I also recycle the packaging from newly purchased products.
If you haven't made a pilgrimage to the Solid Waste Transfer Station (on Rockville Pike, just south of Shady Grove Road), you have missed a treat (really!). This is a great field-trip for kids old enough to appreciate the industrial process of multiple recycling streams. There are collection stations for fabric (don't throw fabric into the trash- recycle it!), cardboard, books, computers, TVs, building materials, scrap metal, yard waste (finished lumber is not recyclable), hazardous materials, and practically anything else you can think of. The county has found vendors to process and reuse most of what we throw away these days.