New Ways To Recycle

Most curbside recycling programs and collection centers accept a very specific and somewhat limited set of items. The usual suspects are #1 and #2 plastics, paper of all kinds, and aluminum cans. Sometimes corrugated cardboard, metal food cans, and glass containers are accepted as well. But in our over-packaged society, there’s always a lot of waste left behind after the recycling bins have been carried out.

Over the last few years, I’ve stumbled onto a few less-conventional avenues for recycling and reusing some things that our curbside recycling won’t take. By making a few calls around town, you might be able to find places to offload your extra odds and ends. Here are the little-known recycling options I’ve found:

>> The local nature center collects empty TP and paper towel tubes and unwanted CDs to use for children’s crafts.

>> The local Keep America Beautiful affiliate is collecting plastic caps and lids (which recycling processors almost never want) to eventually have made into a recycled-plastic bench. I’ve also heard of the local community art center taking them for projects.

>> My workplace collects plastic film canisters to use for science projects, and the nature center also uses them for activities.

Rather than calling and asking, “Do you collect toilet paper tubes?” you might just call likely places and ask them if they’re currently in need of any items that you can save for them.

For more complicated items like old electronics, check and see if your local solid waste management district or some other entity has a e-waste collection day. My county has separate collection days for recyclable electronics, toxic household items, and tires. I think they also run a Christmas tree recycling program at the end of each year! If your local area doesn’t have an e-waste recycling program, you might consider recycling your “technotrash” through GreenDisk, which accepts everything from cords to video game cartridges, from CDs to PCs.

It’s Our Earth, the company that makes the wicked-awesome recycled disk notebooks that Kerri Anne featured last month, accepts all kinds of things for “upcycling” into new products. A full list of the items they accept can be found here.

With innovative options like this available, it’s easier than ever to pare down our waste streams and reduce our environmental impact, one milk jug cap at a time.

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. On most days you can find Velocibadgergirl at Pardon the Egg Salad, where she blogs about travel, her spoiled pets, science geekery, and whatever else comes to mind.

And remember, the Bummas Giveaway is going on until Sunday March 1st at 7pm EST, and all you have to do to enter is comment on the giveaway post with a valid email address; if you haven’t entered yet, what are you waiting for?

6 Responses to New Ways To Recycle
  1. All Rileyed Up
    February 25, 2009 | 12:09 am

    Preschools and elementary schools are another good place to contact – plastic containers, jars, shoes boxes, kleenex boxes, toilet paper tubes… never does a week go by that my kids’ schools don’t send home a “Needs” list.

  2. Leah Ingram
    February 25, 2009 | 2:41 pm

    If you can’t find a place to take your cardboard tubes off your hands for you, there are still plenty of ways to reuse or recycle them. I covered 7 such ways in this recent blog posting:


  3. Janjill
    March 4, 2009 | 5:53 pm

    After school programs like the YMCA also love odds and ends, material and yarn scraps are great besides what was listed.

  4. I don’t know about using CD’s as a play toy for young children, but those are also recyclable. I know that as a young child I loved to play with paper towel and toilet paper tubes. I was a mad man with those things.

    Nice Site.


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  6. Dr. James V. Blowers
    July 7, 2011 | 6:30 am

    In the past 50 years we have lived a wasteful lifestyle. We throw lots of stuff into the landfills and use a lot of energy and fossil fuels. There has been a movement in favor of using our resources in a more thrifty manner, with the color green applied to this movement because it is the color of vegetation. We hear of all kinds of ways we can save the environment.

    Here is another one, with David Bach’s “Go Green, Live Rich”. He presents 50 different ways of living life in a more earth-friendly manner. Some examples include “Grow a Greener Lawn”, “Switch to Compact Fluorescent Bulb”, and “Upgrade to a Hybrid”. Further, he provides a way you can calculate your planetary footprint.

    The biggest advantage of this book is the large number of references it gives. Everywhere you look there is a URL that you can access to find more about the subject. There is a list of references at the end of the book. Mr. Bach provides references for many of the statistics he provides us, so the book is well documented.

    I think the book would be improved if it had a table of contents so you can go quickly to the area you want. Some of the statistics tend to be hyperbolic. For example, Americans use 800 million gallons of gasoline in lawn mowers. Don’t use huge illion numbers when a percentage gives a truer picture. In this case, 800 million gallons is around 19 million barrels of oil; since Americans use 8 billion barrels a year, this is 0.23% of the total. Although gasoline-powered mowers do use fossil fuels, they pale in insignificance compared to the usage in automobiles.

    Like most green endeavors, this book does not go far enough. In the future we simply will not have all these resources to use. His emphasis is on driving cars, maintaining lawn and so forth with less fossil fuels, even though we may not be able to drive at all when impending oil shortages occur. He talks in terms of pollution and global warming, when the running out of fossil fuels is by far a worse problem. Further, he advocates driving hybrids, using solar panels, and using CFLs without considering the possibilities of shortages of lithium, nickel, tellurium, indium, and other resources this might cause and the possibility of mercury pollution from CFLs. He does mention “Grow your own food”, which some peak oil experts say will become necessary in the years ahead. But I think a slant towards living within our resource means and a warning about the impending fuel shortage would improve the book.

    This is an elementary book. He does not go into the details of solar panels, for instance, as to whether you have southern exposure, the dimensions required and so forth, for example.

    I still think this is a good book to get if you want to get started with living more within our planet’s means.