Saturday, April 30, 2011

20 Spring Cleaning Recycling Reminders (Don't Throw It Out!)

I don't know how long ago I got it, but I held onto a flyer from Co-op America about recycling because I really wanted to write a post on it. I used their new online list as a starting point, added my own suggestions and even did a little research. So, without further ado:
  1. Appliances. First try the store where you're buying a new appliance; many will take your old one. If it's in good working condition, Freecycle it or donate it to Goodwill. Some utility companies pay you for your old refrigerator. Or, as a last resort, contact the Steel Recycling Institute.
  2. Athletic shoes. One World Running will send still-wearable shoes to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America and Haiti. Nike's Reuse-a-shoe program turns old shoes into playground and athletic flooring.
  3. Automobiles. If they're old and more trouble than they're worth, don't pawn them off on some poor sap. Donate them to a charity and take the write-off.
  4. Batteries. For rechargeables and single-use, use Battery Solutions. You have pay for the kits, but FedEx shipping is included both ways.
  5. Cardboard Boxes. Contact local nonprofits and women’s shelters to see if they can use them. Or, offer up used cardboard boxes on Freecycle or Craigslist. When we moved here, we put our moving boxes on Freecycle and had a taker in minutes. If your workplace collects at least 100 boxes or more each month, UsedCardboardBoxes accepts them for resale.
  6. Clothes. My favorite, for women's work clothes, is Dress for Success. You can also donate them to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or your local shelter. If the clothes are unwearable, your local animal shelter may want them for pet bedding.
  7. CDs/DVDs/Game Disks. Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to AuralTech for refinishing, and they’ll work like new.
  8. Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL). Your local IKEA store will take them. Or you can order a Sylvania RecyclePak.
  9. Computers and electronics. Find the most responsible recyclers, local and national, at BAN.
  10. Crayons. We all have 10 times as many as we need, thanks to the many places that hand them out. Send them to Crazy Crayons to be melted down into new crayons.
  11. Eyeglasses. Your local Lion’s Club or eyecare chain may collect these. Lenses are reground and given to people in need.
  12. Foam packing peanuts. First, make sure these are not the bio-peanuts that melt in water. Those are easy to get rid of. Otherwise, your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept foam peanuts for reuse. If not, call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site at 800.828.2214. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.
  13. Ink/toner cartridges. pays $1 each. 
  14. Motor oil. Find used motor oil depots in each state at
  15. Phones. Donate cell phones: Collective Good will refurbish your phone and sell it to someone in a developing country. As will the CTIACall to Protect reprograms cell phones to dial 911 and gives them to domestic violence victims. Recycle single-line phones at Reclamere.
  16. "Technotrash." Project KOPEG offers an e-waste recycling program you can use as a fundraiser for your organization. Use Project KOPEG to recycle iPods, MP3 players, cell phones and chargers, digital cameras, PDAs, palm pilots and more. Also, easily recycle all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs and ink/toner cartridges with GreenDisk’s Technotrash program. For $30, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box which you fill with up to 70 pounds of any of the above and ship back to them. Your fee covers the box, as well as shipping and recycling fees.
  17. Tires. Bad for landfills. Look up a local recycling program on Earth911. (This site is a great overall resource for recycling.)
  18. Toothbrushes and razors. Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from Recycline, and the company will take it back to be recycled again into plastic lumber. Recycline products are made from used Stonyfield Farms’ yogurt cups.
  19. Tyvek envelopes. Quantities less than 25: Send to Shirley Cimburke, Tyvek Recycling Specialist, 5401 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Spot 197, Room 231, Richmond, VA 23234. Quantities larger than 25, call 866.33.TYVEK.
  20. Wine corks. Recork upcycles them into other products. Bottoms up, everyone!
One man's junk is another man's treasure.

You know not to buy stuff you really don't need. Just keep reminding yourself. Or shop at second-hand stores or on eBay. Then, of course, there's the stuff you already have that needs a new life. Try to find someone else who wants this stuff. And people will. Post it on Freecycle, Craigslist or or give/sell them at or on eBay.  iReuse will also help you find a recycler, if possible, when your items have reached the end of their useful lifecycle.

Other great posts and resources worth checking out for more information on recycling:

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