Sunday, August 12, 2012

Guest Post :: Recycling Beyond the Curb

The following guest post is written by Kristina at The Greening Of Westford.


Recycling Beyond the Curb

Reduce Reuse Recycle.  The 3R’s are the basics of all that is green!  If you are just starting out making your household more eco-friendly, recycling is an easy way to start.   

Most communities have access to some sort of recycling whether it’s curbside or a transfer station.  Find out what you have access to and start to recycle all the paper, plastic, aluminum, etc. that your community offers.  Municipalities pay big money for waste removal.  If they are paying for it, you can bet they will be more than willing to help you reduce what you throw in the trash.  If you are paying for it, well, then this can be a way to reduce your costs.

Once you have maximized your easy-to-recycle items, expand your recycling. There are many other items that can be recycled with just a little more effort.  Take a look at the following and see what you can do to recycle more.

Brita Filters   Every WholeFoodsrecycles Brita filters through the Gimme 5 program.

Cell Phones   While cell phones are accepted with other electronics at Best Buy and Staples, many Senior Centers collect them.  With any cell phone, they are able to get emergency phones for Senior Citizens free of charge.

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)    Because of the mercury content, these should never be put into the trash.  Most hardware stores and larger stores such as Home Depot will recycle these.

Cosmetic Tubes or Jars   Origins CosmeticStores will accept any brand cosmetic packaging including jars, bottles and tubes for recycling.


Best Buy’s national electronics recycling program accepts all kinds of items.  They will accept, FREE OF CHARGE: Computers, Monitors, TVs (Tube < 32”, Flat Panel LCD, Plasma, LED), Modems/Routers/Hubs, Memory cards, PC game controllers, Video Game Consoles, Shredders, Software, Speakers, DVD/Blu-ray player, E-readers, GPS (portable, in-dash and outdoor), Stereo Receivers, Turntables, Two Way radios, VCRs, Webcams, Digital Photo Frames, digital cameras, camcorders, DVD/CDs and their cases, fans, gift cards, mp3 players, Vacuums (Upright/canister, robot, brooms/stick), random cables from items you no longer have.

Check your local Best Buy for specifics in your area.  You should note, that if you bringing an old computer or other hard drive, YOU are responsible for making sure any data cannot be read.  There is information on how to do this on their website.

Staples has a similar program and accepts many of the same items.

Eye Glasses  The LionsClub has collection boxes in many locations or ask a local eye glass shop or eye doctor.

Hearing Aids   Help the Children Hear gives hearing aids to children who cannot afford them.

Inkjet cartridges   Staples, you will receive $2 to use at Staples.  Many schools run fundraisers recycling used inkjet cartridges.  They are also accepted at Best Buy.

Packing Peanuts   Most delivery type places like UPS will take these.

Pizza Box  Some recyclers will accept pizza boxes without too much grease.  THIS IS VERY RECYCLER-dependent, so ask, it could ruin lots of other recyclables.  Even if you can’t recycle greasy boxes, you can rip the top off and recycle that.

Plastic bags   Plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery stores.  I use reusable bags mostly, but there are so many more items that can be recycled  at the big "Plastic Bag" bins at local grocery store. Check your local grocery store.  In our area, Hannaford and Stop and Shop accept any bag labeled #2 or #4.   I have found this on carrot bags, grape bags, toilet paper wrappers, bread bags, produce bags, cauliflower wrappers and more.  Check for more information in your area.

Plastics #5   If your local recycler does not accept these, they can be recycled at any Whole Foods via the Gimme5 program

Un-wearable Textiles   You already know that many charities will accept used, wearable clothing.  Did you know that some will accept any textiles to recycle? This includes stained or otherwise un-wearable fabrics, including stuffed animals.  They are able to sell these items to companies who use them for wiping rags or as filler for furniture.  They just need to be dry, clean and free of contaminants (such as motor oil, mildew, or paint).  Salvation Army and Goodwill are among these charities.  Check here for other participating recyclers near you.

Used Greeting Cards  Any greeting card can be sent to St.Jude's for repurposing.

Wine Corks  All Whole Foods locations collectnatural wine corks in conjunction with Cork ReHarvest. 

Yoga Mats  Recycle Your Mat will recycle your used up yoga mat.  You can find a location near you or ship your mat.

Other Non-Recyclables  There are over 40 random items that can be upcycled through a company called TerraCycle.  These include chip bags, granola bars, used writing instruments, candy wrappers, toothbrushes and more.  While this program takes more effort, it can be a great fundraising opportunity for schools or non-profit organizations.  TerraCycle pays 2 cents for each item sent in and pays the shipping. I started a TerraCycle program in my town called UpCycle It!.  In a little over 2 years, we have raised over $6500 for our schools.

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Steve Snodgrass/Flickr]

Kristina Greene is the founder and editor of The Greening Of Westford.  She focuses on practical eco-friendly actions anyone can do to save time, money, aggravation, oh, and the planet! Connect with her through her blog, facebook and twitter.


Brittney Minor said...

Great post! I didn't know about some of these recycling tips! Sharing!