5 Things You Should Always Recycle.
Chances are you're already recycling the cans, bottles, and paper that gets picked up at the curb, but what about all that other stuff that's lurking in your drawers or closets - like outdated gadgets and dead batteries - that you're not sure how to recycle? The following household items are especially important to donate or recycle because they contain materials that can contaminate the environment if they wind up in landfills or that can easily be reclaimed for use in new products. Here are some convenient ways to keep them out of the trash:
According to the EPA, recycling just one computer CPU and one monitor is equivalent to preventing 1.35 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released and recycling one television prevents four to eight pounds of lead from being added to the waste stream.
- Electronics: All Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy stores accept larger electronics like desktop
computers for recycling for a small fee (usually $10) and smaller ones like cell
phones and PDAs for free. Goodwill stores accept used computer equipment (some locations
also accept televisions) for free.
And you can earn RecycleBank Points by recycling MP3 players/iPods, laptops, and cell phones through our partners at Collective Good, FlipSwap, and Gazelle.
Why: You'll keep toxic materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and brominated flame retardants out of landfills. And useful materials will be recovered, saving energy and resources.
- Rechargeable batteries: From cordless phones and power
tools, digital cameras, and other gizmos - these can be recycled for free at
30,000 drop-off points nationwide, including retailers such as Home Depot,
Lowe's, RadioShack, Sears, and Target. Enter your zip code at Call2Recycle to
find one near you.
Unfortunately, it's more difficult to find places to recycle alkaline (or single-use) batteries. Try Earth911 to find drop off locations or order a box (for $34.50, including prepaid shipping) from Battery Solutions and send them up to 12 pounds of alkaline and/or rechargeable batteries for recycling.
Why: Like many electronics, batteries contain heavy metals and other chemicals best kept out of the waste stream. Plus, recyclers reclaim metals from them that are used to make, for example, new batteries and steel.
- Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs use 75 percent less energy
than incandescent bulbs, but they contain a small amount of mercury and
shouldn't be thrown in the trash. Take them to any Ikea or Home Depot store for
recycling or go to Lamp
Recycle to find other drop off locations near you.
Why: CFLs in landfills can break and release mercury, a neurotoxin, into the environment.
- Plastic Bags: Even if you've switched to reusable bags for
your shopping, you probably have a bunch of these stored in your home. Luckily,
lots of retailers like Wal-Mart, Safeway, Albertsons, Wegmans, Krogers, and
Giant now have bins where you can recycle plastic grocery bags (and newspaper,
drycleaning, bread, and sealable food storage bags). To find a drop off location
near you, go to Plastic Bag
Recycling or Earth911.
Why: They're made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and when thrown away they take a very long time to decompose. Recyclers will turn them into new products like plastic lumber.
- Anything you don't need that could be of great value to
others — for instance, you can donate your used prescription glasses to
the nonprofit OneSight at any LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Target
Optical, or Sears Optical location (or go to One
Sight for more locations near you). You can also donate unused, unexpired
medications including antibiotics, pain relievers, and others by mailing them to
the Health Equity Project. The glasses and medications will be
distributed to people in need in developing countries.