On several recent American Airlines and U.S. Air flights, Chapel Hill resident Joy Javits disembarked from the plane hauling garbage bags of cans and newspapers that would have otherwise gone into the trash.

“When the flight attendants came down the aisle, I asked the them if I could recycle the cans, newspapers and bottles that would be otherwise thrown in the trash,” Javits said. “They thought it was a good idea.”

According to a 2006 Natural Resources Defense Council study, the U.S. airline industry discards enough aluminum cans annually to build 58 Boeing 747 airplanes; the amount of newspapers and magazines could be stacked 230 feet deep in a football field.

Apparently, if you want to recycle airplane trash, all you have to do is ask.

“We’re helping the airline,” Javits said. “And we all get to feel good.”