What do you do with your old stuff? Assuming you don’t want to be featured on the next Dr. Phil or Oprah show as the latest “hopeless hoarder in need of help,” you’ll find yourself needing to de-stuff-ify your life from time to time. The most eco-friendly solution is always to reuse or “repurpose” things whenever possible. But, when that’s not an option, recycling is always better than adding your stuff to the giant heap of trash at the local landfill. It’s typically pretty easy to recycle stuff like paper, plastic, and glass. Here are some other household items you may find yourself wanting to get rid of, and you may not have known you can recycle them:
Check out Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program. This is really cool. The materials in your athletic shoes can be recycled and used to make basketball and tennis courts, and running tracks. On the site you can find a local drop-off point. If there’s not a drop-off near you, you can mail your shoes to the processing center. Click here for details and address.
If your shoes still have some life left in them, you may want to donate them to One World Running, a nonprofit that will send your usable shoes to needy athletes in third world countries. If they can’t use your shoes, they’ll be sent to the Nike Reuse-a-Shoe processing center. Click here to find drop-off locations and a mailing address.
If you have an appliance that still works, consider donating it to someone who needs it. Here are a few organizations that may accept your used appliances: Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity ReStores. You can also use a service like Craigslist or Freecycle to find someone who needs your appliances.
If your old appliance has died, then what you really have is a nice chunk of scrap metal to be recycled. Here are some places to look when you need to recycle your not-so-useable appliances: Steel Recycling Institute, Earth911.com. Earth911 is a great resource for finding recycling centers for all kinds of stuff. Just enter your location and what you want to recycle!
There are special considerations for disposing of refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners. These appliances contain compounds that are used as refrigerants and they must be disposed of properly. For more information, see the US Environmental Protection Agency
Got an old mobile phone? Don’t send it packing to the landfill! Instead, send it to GreenPhone, they’ll give you credit or cash for it and plant a tree for each phone recycled. ReCellular is another company that will buy your old mobile phone, and make a donation to the charity of your choice, such as Cell Phones for Soldiers. You can also check out the EPA website for more suggestions, like mailing your phone to the manufacturer or dropping it off at a retailer for recycling.
With all the “must-have” gadgets that are now a part of daily life, you’ll find yourself wondering what to do with all those drained batteries. Battery Solutions offers “iRecycle kits” for homes or businesses. Basically, you pay for a box, fill it up with batteries (and hand-held electronics), then send it back to them (free) for recycling. You can also find local drop-offs for battery recycling by searching for “single use batteries” at Earth911.com. Just enter your zip code to find recycling centers, or retailers like Best Buy that will recycle your batteries for you.
Millions of ink cartridges end up in landfills each year, and the plastic from each cartridge takes over 1,000 years to decompose! It’s a shame the ink doesn’t last longer. A lot of office supply stores now have recycling and/or refilling programs for your ink cartridges. Next time you buy ink, ask an employee if they collect used cartridges. If you have an Office Max nearby, you can use their ink & toner recycling program and save money on future purchases. You can probably find a local drop-off fairly easily. But, if not check RecyclePlace.org to see if they buy the type of cartridge you want to get rid of. You can also check the ink manufacturer’s website to see if they have a recycling program.
CDs and DVDs
Don’t throw your old discs in the landfill. They’re made of material that doesn’t degrade. Instead, send them to DiscsForDogs.org where your donations will help dogs and cats at the SPCA. You can also use the services at Green Disk.com for recycling all your “techno-trash.” For more ideas and to find local recycling centers, check out Earth911.org’s Tips on Recycling CDs and DVDs.
The idea of recycling has been around for a while now, and most of us know how to recycle common household waste like paper, plastic, and glass. But chances are a lot of your other waste can be recycled, too. Before you throw it out, take a few minutes to see if it can be reused, repurposed or recycled.
“How to Recycle Anything: An A to Z Guide…” by Natalie Ermann Russell (RealSimple.com)
“Top 10 Reasons to Recycle” (National Recycling Coalition)