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Green Steps Tip: Recycle

June 11, 2009

I know, recycling is not a new concept.  But, some of the best ways to incorporate environmentally friendly principles into your life way are the easiest and most simple!  My apartment building doesn’t offer a recycling program, but that doesn’t stop me.  I collect my recyclables and keep them in a classy cardboard box under my kitchen cart.   











When the box gets full, I bring my recyclables to my boyfriend’s house for his town’s curbside recycling program (but not before cashing in on the deposit for my Sam Lights!).










I think we all know that paper, aluminum and most plastics can be recycled but what about all that other common stuff?  


  • Plastic grocery bags:  Most local recycling programs won’t accept those plastic shopping bags because they will get stuck in the machinery.  Most major grocery chains now offer a special grocery bag recycling box.  Or, you can skip the bag collection altogether and use a reusable bag the next time you shop!


  • Electronics:  First, scour local websites for e-waste recycling days.   Also, many electronics manufacturers and retailers offer their own recycling program.  Staples accepts computers and printers regardless of if it was purchased there.  National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a great place to donate your old cell phones.  They distribute the old phones to victims of domestic violence to use in emergency situations.  Recycling and doing good is a double score.


  • Batteries: We’re talking about the “standard” single-use/alkaline/dry-cell battery.  Battery Solutions offers a home recycling kit that you fill with dead batteries and send back to them via pre-paid shipping.   Mailing away your batteries may not be the most convenient way for you to recycle but you can try the re-chargeable variety or search for local drop-off sites.


  •  Household cleaners:  These cannot be recycled!  It’s news to me too, but it makes sense.  There’s many toxic chemicals in our cleaners that it cannot be properly recycled.  Instead, you can bring your empty containers to your local household hazardous waste day.  I’m going to start by trying not to bring toxic chemicals into my home in the first place.  I need to stay away from things labelled “antibacterial,” as it likely contains the toxic pesticide triclosan (yikes).  The next time you need to clean up, look for products like Simple Green– or, consider the old stand-by: vinegar and baking soda (cheap, easy and fun to see the quick fizzing/cleaning action…hmm, does that make me a cleaning geek?).


  • Lightbulbs:  By now, we know to buy compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs.  I just learned incandescent bulbs will be banned by Congress, starting in 2012, and completely phased out by 2014.  The best way to recycle the bulbs now is to package the lightbulbs in a box so they don’t break, leaking toxins.  Check Earth911.comon where to drop off lightbulbs.  My local Home Depot is the spot for me.

There’s plenty of other stuff that can’t be put in your kitchen trash.  If you check out Earth911.organd plug in your zipcode, you’ll get a load of local resources on where to bring almost any other material to recycle (newly added widget below).  My boyfriend has empty paint cans he needs to get ride of and we learned of an upcoming local Hazardous Waste Drop Off day.  We’re going to make sure to keep the different types of paint seperated and keep the labels on to make it easier for recyclers to identify the paint without opening the cans. 


As always, if you have large quantities of usable materials (like bolts of fabric, paints, tiles, office furniture, etc.), consider donating it to a local charity or a crafters/teachers exchange.  In the Boston area, Extras for Creative Learning is the best place to go for your recycled/upcycled craft resources!

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