>> Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I say "recycle everything" a little bit tongue in cheek because obviously, it's not possible to recycle everything. The goal is simply to switch your mindset from "throw away" to "reduce, repair, and reuse" and when all else fails...recycle.
Step One: Check with your local waste collection to find out how to participate in your local recycling program.
Step Two: Start a composting bin if your city doesn't have compost collection. Composting is short term for recycling food waste.
Step Three: Find out what other waste collection services your area has. For example, my city has a yard waste drop-off site (and yard waste collection at certain times of the year) and multi-material drop-off sites that take scrap metal, e-waste, tires, and appliances.
Step Four: Look for ways to recycle everything else. Here are some that I've learned about:
- With their Gimme 5 program, Preserve has partnered with Organic Valley and Stoneyfield Farms to collect #5 plastics, which are not collected by most city recycling programs. Gimme 5 bins are set up at select Whole Foods stores, or you can mail your #5 plastics to Preserve. Also collected through this program: Preserve toothbrushes, other Preserve products, and Brita pitcher filters.
- If made by Ameri-pak, you can mail the air bags back to them to be recycled. They also accept bubble wrap and polyethylene foam.
- Nike has a Reuse-A-Shoe program where they collect old athletic shoes and turn the soles into surface material for playgrounds and basketball courts. You can find a drop off location by visiting their site, or mail your shoes directly to a Nike Recycling Center. They can be any athletic shoes, not just Nikes.
- If your old baby products are unusable or have expired (yes, car seats have expiration dates!), ship them to Baby Gear, which will disassemble them and make sure all parts are recycled properly.
- Most recycling centers do not accept the caps, and if a cap is left on the bottle, they throw the whole bottle out. But now Aveda has started collecting bottle caps! They accept any rigid cap made from polypropylene plastic (if you can bend it with your bare hands, it's not the right kind), and they recycle the caps into Aveda packaging. Just take the caps into an Aveda store.
- These are accepted in Preserve's Gimme 5 program. See #5 plastics above.
- For a small fee, Greendisk will send you a box to collect your computer related waste.
- CollectiveGood collects cell phones, PDAs, and pagers. Devices that are still in working condition are put back into reuse; devices that are broken are taken apart, the usable parts are collected, and everything else is recycled in an environmentally responsible manner. They also recently launched a program to collect used electronics. You can trade in your old computers, printers, and gaming consoles for money, or donate the value to the charity of your choice.
- Even threadbare clothing can be donated to Goodwill, which turns them into rags or recycles the fibers into other materials.
- You can find a list of computer and small electronics recyclers at e-Stewards.org.
- TerraCycle collects drink pouches, cookie wrappers, energy bar wrappers, and yogurt cups and turns them into bags, backpacks, and planters. The catch is that you have to find someone or someplace that is collecting them.
- The Lions Club and the Give the Gift of Sight Foundation have partnered to collect used eyeglasses, which they clean, repair, and distribute to needy people. You can find a Lions recycling center here.
- Set up an Elmer's Glue Crew Recycling Program at your local school.
- Donate them to a dry cleaner or thrift store.
- Donate your old furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
- Most office supply stores will recycle your old ink cartridges, and many give you a discount on your next purchase if you bring back the old one.
- Watch out for universities and retailers collecting used jeans for the Cotton, from Blue to Green campaign, which turns jeans into insulation.
- Shipping stores such as The UPS Store will usually take back packing peanuts and reuse them.
- Return them to the grocery store - preferably the grocery store where you got them because different stores use different types of plastic to make their bags.
- The Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers has established several recycling drop-off locations, or you can mail them the packaging.
- ILoveSchools.com matches teachers with donors of equipment, supplies, and materials. Examples include computer equipment/software, TVs, VCRs, musical instruments, school supplies, sports equipment, and toys.
- Mail them to Yemm & Hart, which will turn them into tiles.
- This post was shared at All Things Eco.