If you can’t Reuse, definitely Recycle
I recently received an email from a friend with all of this recycling advice from The Nature Conservancy and I thought I’d share:
Aerosol cans: pull off the plastic cap, empty the canister completely and recycle with other cans.
Antiperspirant and deodorant sticks: Many brands have a dial on
the bottom that is made of a plastic polymer that’s different from the
plastic used for the container, so you might not be able to recycle the
whole thing (look on the bottom to find out). Tom’s of Maine makes a
deodorant stick composed solely of plastic No. 5.
Backpacks: The American Birding Association accepts donated
backpacks, which its scientists use while tracking neotropical birds (americanbirding.org).
Batteries: Drop off at the recycling center. For car batteries
- almost any retailer selling them will also collect and recycle them.
Bottle Caps: Visit Recycle Caps with Aveda for more information.
Carpeting (nylon fiber): Go to carpetrecovery.org and click on “What can I do with my old carpet?” to find a carpet-reclamation facility near you, or check with your carpet’s
Cars, Jet Skis, boats, trailers, RVs, and motorcycles: Even if
these are unusable―totaled, rusted―they still have metal and other
components that can be recycled. Call junkyards in your area, or go to junkmycar.com,
which will pick up and remove these items for free. Or donate to a
good cause such as the American Cancer Society.
Christmas lights: Ship your old lights to holidayleds.com,
Attention: Recycling Program, 120 W. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1403,
Jackson MI 49201. You will receive a coupon for 10% off its LED lights,
which use 80% less energy, are safer and last 10 years or more!
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs: CFLs contain mercury and
shouldn’t be thrown in the trash. Ikea and the Home Depot operate CFL
recycling programs; you can also check with your local hardware store
or recycling center to see if it offers recycling services.
Computers: You can return used computers to their manufacturers
for recycling (check mygreenelectronics.com for a list of vendors) or
donate them to a charitable organization (log on to sharetechnology.org
or cristina.org). Nextsteprecycling.org
repairs your broken computers and gives them to underfunded schools,
needy families, and nonprofits.
Eyeglasses: Donate them to neweyesfortheneedy.com (sunglasses can also be donated). Or drop off at LensCrafters, Target Optical, or other participating stores and doctors’ offices, which will send them
Fire extinguishers: There are two types of extinguishers. For a
dry-chemical extinguisher, safely relieve the remaining pressure,
remove the head from the container, and place it with your bulk-metal
items (check with your local recycler first). Or, call fire-equipment
companies and request that they dispose of your extinguisher. Carbon
dioxide extinguishers are refillable after each use.
Gadgets: Send PDAs, MP3 players to Recycleforbreastcancer.org,
They will send you a prepaid shipping label, recycle your gadgets, and
donate the proceeds to breast cancer charities.
Glue strips and inserts in magazines: Lotion samples and
nonpaper promotional items affixed to glue strips in magazines should
be removed because they can jam up recycling equipment (scented perfume
strips, on the other hand, are fine).
Hearing aids: The Starkey Hearing Foundation (sotheworldmayhear.org)
recycles used hearing aids, any make or model, no matter how old. Lions
Clubs also accept hearing aids (as well as eyeglasses) for reuse; log
on to donateglasses.net to find collection centers near
Holiday cards: throw them into the paper recycling bin or send
them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children (stjudesranch.org).
Kids cut off the front covers, glue them onto new cards, and sell – the
result – earning money and confidence.
iPods: Bring in an old iPod to an Apple store and get 10% off a
new one. The discount is valid only that day, so be prepared to buy
your new iPod.
Leather accessories: there’s no recycling option. Donate shoes
in decent condition to solesforsouls.org, a nonprofit that collects used
footwear and distributes it to needy communities.
Mattresses and box springs: Mattresses are made of recyclable
materials, such as wire, paper, and cloth, but not all cities accept
them for recycling. (Go to earth911.org to find out if yours does.)
Mirrors: These aren’t recyclable through most municipal
recyclers, because the chemicals on the glass can’t be mixed with glass
bottles and jars. You can donate them to secondhand stores, of course.
Or if the mirror is broken, put it in a paper bag for the safety of
your trash collectors. To find out what your municipality recycles,
call 800-CLEANUP or visit recyclingcenters.org.
Notebooks (spiral): It may seem weird to toss a metal-bound
notebook into the paper recycling, but worry not―the machinery will
pull out smaller nonpaper items. One caveat: If the cover is plastic,
rip that off.
- Envelopes with plastic windows: Recycle them with regular
office paper. The filters will sieve out the plastic.
- FedEx: Paper FedEx envelopes can be recycled, and there’s
no need to pull off the plastic sleeve. FedEx Paks made of Tyvek are
- Goldenrod: Those ubiquitous mustard-colored envelopes are
not recyclable, because goldenrod paper (as well as dark or fluorescent
paper) is saturated with hard-to-remove dyes.
- Jiffy Paks: even the paper-padded ones filled with that
material resembling dryer lint―are recyclable with other mixed papers.
- Padded envelopes with Bubble Wrap: These can’t be
- Post-its: The sticky stuff gets filtered out, so these
office standbys can usually be recycled with paper.
Packing materials: Styrofoam peanuts cannot be recycled in most
areas, but many packaging stores (like UPS and Mail Boxes Etc.) accept
them. To find a peanut reuser near you, go to loosefillpackaging.com.
Phone books: Many cities offer collection services. Also check yellowpages.com/recycle,
or call AT&T’s phone book-recycling line at 800-953-4400.
Pizza boxes: If cheese and grease are stuck to the box, rip out
the affected areas and recycle the rest as corrugated cardboard. Food
residue can ruin a whole batch of paper if it is left to sit in the
recycling facility and begins to decompose.
Plastic bottle caps: Toss them. “They’re made from a plastic
that melts at a different rate than the bottles, and they degrade the
quality of the plastic if they get mixed in,” says Kite.
Prescription drugs: The Starfish Project (thestarfish-project.org)
collects some unused medications (TB medicines, antifungals,
antivirals) and gives them to clinics in Nigeria. The organization will
send you a prepaid FedEx label, too.
Printer-ink cartridges: Seventy percent are thrown into
landfills, where it will take 450 years for them to decompose.
“Cartridges are like gas tanks,” says Jim Cannan, cartridge-collection
manager at Recycleplace.com. “They don’t break. They just run out of
ink. Making new ones is like changing motors every time you run out of
gas.” Take them to Staples and get $3 off your next cartridge purchase,
or mail HP-brand cartridges back to HP.
Recreational equipment: Don’t send tennis rackets to your local
recycling center. “People may think we’re going to give them to
Goodwill,” says Sadonna Cody, director of government affairs for the
Northbay Corporation and Redwood Empire Disposal, in Santa Rosa,
California, “but they’ll just be trashed.” Trade sports gear in at Play
It Again Sports (playitagainsports.com),
or donate it to sportsgift.org,
which gives gently used equipment to needy kids around the world. Mail
to Sports Gift, 32545 B Golden Lantern #478, Dana Point CA 92629. As
for skis, send them to skichair.com,
4 Abbott Place, Millbury MA 01527; they’ll be turned into
Adirondack-style beach chairs.
Rugs (cotton or wool): If your town’s recycling center accepts
rugs, great. If not, you’re out of luck, because you can’t ship rugs
directly to a fabric recycler; they need to be sent in bulk. Your best
bet is to donate them to the thrift store of a charity, like the
Shower curtains and liners: Most facilities do not recycle these
because they’re made of PVC. (If PVC gets in with other plastics, it
can compromise the chemical makeup of the recycled material.)
Six-pack rings: See if your local school participates in the
Ring Leader Recycling Program (ringleader.com); kids collect six-pack rings to be
recycled into other plastic items, including plastic lumber and plastic
Smoke detectors: Some towns accept those that have beeped their
last beep. If yours doesn’t, try the manufacturer. First Alert takes
back detectors (you pay for shipping); call 800-323-9005 for
Soap dispensers (pump): Most plastic ones are recyclable; toss
them in with the other plastics.
Stereos and VCRs: Visit earth911.org for a list of recyclers, retail
stores, and manufacturers near you that accept electronics. Small
companies are popping up to handle electronic waste (or e-waste) as
in San Francisco will pull apart your electronics and recycle them at a
cost ranging from nothing to 50 cents a pound. And the 10 nationwide
locations of freegeek.org offer
a similar service.
Tinfoil: It’s aluminum, not tin. So rinse it off, wad it up, and
toss it in with the beer and soda cans.
Tires: You can often leave old tires with the dealer when you
buy new ones (just check that they’ll be recycled). Worn-out tires can
be reused as highway paving, doormats, hoses, shoe soles, and more.
Tissue boxes with plastic dispensers: The plastic portion will be
filtered out during the recycling process, so you can usually recycle
tissue boxes with cardboard.
Toothpaste tubes: Even with all that sticky paste inside, you
can recycle aluminum tubes (put them with the aluminum cans), but not
TVs: Best Buy will remove and recycle a set when it delivers a
new one. Or bring old ones to Office Depot to be recycled. Got a Sony
TV? Take it to a drop-off center listed at sony.com/recycle.
Umbrellas: If it’s a broken metal one, drop the metal skeleton
in with scrap metal (remove the fabric and the handle first). Plastic
ones aren’t accepted.
Videotapes, cassettes, and floppy disks: These aren’t accepted.
“Videotapes are a nightmare,” says Outerbridge. “They get tangled and
caught on everything.” Instead, send tapes to the ACT (actrecycling.org)
facility in Columbia, Missouri, which employs disabled people to clean,
erase, and resell videotapes. You can also send videotapes, cassettes,
and floppy disks to greendisk.com;
recycling 20 pounds or less costs $6.95, plus shipping.
Wheelchairs: Go to lifenets.org/wheelchair, which acts as a
matchmaker, uniting wheelchairs with those who need them.
Wine corks: they are biodegradable so put them in a compost bin
because. Plastic corks can’t be composted or recycled.
Wipes and sponges: not recyclable. But sea sponges and natural
sponges made from vegetable cellulose are biodegradable and can be
tossed into a compost heap.
Writing implements: You can’t recycle pens, pencils, and
markers, but you can donate usable ones to schools that are short on
these supplies. There’s always the option of buying refillable pencils
and biodegradable pens made of corn (like those at grassrootsstore.com)
so that less waste winds up in the landfill.
Zippered plastic bags: Venues that recycle plastic bags will
also accept these items, as long as they are clean, dry, and the zip
part has been snipped off (it’s a different type of plastic).