Earth Day Tip #3: RECYCLE!

Okay, now that we’re all aware about going green and we’ve calculated our footprints, let’s take it one step further. One of the most easiest things you can do starting right now, is RECYCLE! Now I know that most of you probably already recycle but there’s some of you out there that may sometimes “forget” to sort your trash or throw your recyclables in the correct bin. Let’s make an effort to recycle every time.

Besides the obvious things that people commonly recycle (glass, plastic, aluminum, paper waste, magazines, cereal boxes), we can also recycle:

  • Print cartridges: Most manufacturers have recycling programs where you can return the empty cartridges or you can earn $1 per cartridge through the site, Recycle Place.
  • Aluminum foil: Just recycle it with the rest of the cans!
  • Old mobile devices: Discarded cell phones account for nearly 65,000 tons of toxic waste each year. Office Depot and Best Buy collects old cell phones for recycling, as should most cell phone carriers. There are also a growing number of charities that will collect your old mobile devices (cell phones and PDAs) and give them to those in need. For help with deciding which charity you want to donate to, check out Recycling For Charities.
  • Used motor oil: Turn in your old motor oil for recycling! It keeps the oil from leaking out into our water systems. Find a recycling center near you.
  • Used water filters, yogurt containers, etc.: If you’re filtering tap water for drinking (and you should be but more on that in a future blog), you can also recycle your used filters. Whole Foods announced this year that they are starting to take used Brita filters, as well as #5 plastic (indicated on the bottom of the container) commonly found in yogurt, cottage cheese and hummus containers and medicine bottles. For a complete list of participating Whole Foods that collects #5 plastic, click here.

The idea of recycling doesn’t just mean processing used materials into new materials. It can also mean recycling an old product with a new purpose. Just because you no longer have a use for something doesn’t mean that someone else won’t or can’t find a use for it. Here are some recycling alternatives to throwing away common items that will help keep them out of landfills and just in time for Spring Cleaning!

  • Take out containers: Whenever I order in for delivery, I save the plastic take out containers and reuse them as tupperware.
  • General household items: Yes, you can “recycle” these items! Instead of tossing something out with your garbage, post it on Craigslist or a similar site. “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” and you might even make a little money off of it! Some things you can put up include hangers, cardboard boxes, linens, old pots and pans, etc. Really. People will take them.
  • Clothes and shoes: Before I left for Turkey I cleaned out my closet and came across a ton of clothes and shoes in good condition that either didn’t fit me or I just didn’t wear anymore. So what did I do? I had a sleepover with my girlfriends and gave them their pick of the lot. Whatever was leftover I donated to Goodwill. It’s a multiple win situation. Your closet gets cleaned out, you have a great excuse to have friends over, your friends have new clothes and like you even more for giving it to them for free AND you’ve given something to a worthy cause. My friend Shoko also did this before she left New York City and now I have a few pairs of cute summer pants that I didn’t need to buy! And that means more money I can spend while traveling!

This is just the tip of the recycling iceberg! Do you have any other ways of “recycling” that you would like to share? Do you know of other items that can be recycled but is not commonly known? Comment below and share the awareness!

© Connie Hum 2009

5 Comments

  • cane-cutter says:

    Use your gently worn dirty magazines as gift wrapping paper!

    The gift that keeps on giving!

  • conniehum says:

    Hmm….I wonder which Cobo would come up with that idea….

  • shoko says:

    it’s not recycling, but using handkerchief helps in terms of not creating extra garbage. but someone told me to think which one is more eco-friendly. to use paper towel and creating garbage or washing handkerchief with soap and using electricity and water… anyone any thought?

  • conniehum says:

    Shoko, that’s a really good point and an even better question! I did a little googling, and here’s some articles I found that addresses what you’re asking.

    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/paper-towels-and-napkins-vs-cloth.html#

    Personally, I think using washables is better in the long run than disposables. The water system is already in place and you’re doing laundry anyway and if you use non-toxic detergent, then you’re also not putting harmful pollutants into the water system. Disposables use much more resources and chemicals in the manufacture, packaging and shipping process (including electricity and water), and they end up in a landfill.

  • shoko says:

    i thought so. i could be wrong, but i believe one of the fundamental element to be green is not to create garbage than we need to. thanks for the info. i crawled with cotton diapers and was being checked if i had a handkerchief in my pocket in my kindergarten :) my mom is one of the most green person i know. i will let you know what she is up to these days once i get home!

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