The Truth About Recycling

There are many benefits to recycling materials at the end of their lives, but there are even more reasons why “Recycling” is the third and last R in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Automotive

Auto Fluids

 

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Car Batteries

The recycling of car batteries is more common than you would think. They are actually the most recycled item in the US, at a 98% – 99% recycling rate! The most common way to ensure your old battery gets recycled is just to take it to any dealership or automobile store. These shops are required by state law  and contracts with battery manufacturing companies to regularly ship out old batteries to be recycled.

Oil & Filters

The EPA states that if poured down any drain, the oil from one at-home oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of water. When the motor oil is powering your vehicle, it is consistently getting more and more contaminated. Refining the oil can remove the contaminants indefinitely and can be turned into fuel.

Rules for Recycling

  • Some cities may allow you to recycle motor oils and filters curbside, but you will need to ensure that you follow all packing requirements to ensure they get handled correctly. To be safe, it’s always best to transport these items directly to a recycling center or a retailer.
  • DO NOT place in your regular recycling bin.
  • The bottles containing these chemicals can be recycled, but since they are not food-grade plastic, many recycling companies will not accept them. Take these items directly to a recycling center or retailer to ensure they get handled properly.
  • Auto Zone, Walmart Tire & Lube Express, O’Reilly Auto and many other retailers will accept these materials and oils to be recycled. 
  • Your state or city may have designated drop-off sites and collection facilities.
Tires

Tires can be reused and recycled so many different ways! They can even be burned off and turned into fuel. The US disposes of 300 million tires per year and when dumped into landfills, they become breeding houses for mosquitoes and they attract rodents. They take up too much space and can even become a fire hazard. Tire derived fuel is an alternative fuel source to common fossil fuels and they produce 25% more energy than coal. 

Rules for Recycling

  • Take off rim and recycle (you can even make some money recycling your old aluminum rims)
  • DO NOT throw in your regular recycling bin
  • Ask your car dealership or auto shop if your old tires can be patched up and/or retreaded to make them last even longer. 
  • If you must replace your tires, ask your auto shop if they can recycle your old tires for you.
  • Consider using your old tires for a project before recycling. You can make planters, compost bins, and, of course, tire swings.

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a variety of ways to reuse tires before recycling.

Electronics

Appliances

When you must purchase new appliances, choose a newer model with energy saving capabilities. Make sure that you recycle your old appliance since it contains a large amount of metal, including the most recycled material in the US— steel. Air conditioners and refrigerators chill air using fluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons and are leading contributors of ozone depletion when not disposed of properly. With an energy saving appliance, you’ll end up saving money on your monthly bills and some companies will even apply a credit for your new appliance when you recycle your old one. 

Rules for Recycling

  • If you wish to recycle your appliances curbside, you’ll have to schedule a pick-up with your local waste collection service and specify what appliance you are recycling to see if there are any guidelines on how to prepare the appliance.
  • The EPA has a nationwide Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program for recycling appliances.
  • Allow time for your appliance to cool down by unplugging it a few days prior to pickup.
  • If you plan on recycling air conditioners, freezers, or refrigerators, ensure that your recycling program removes freon. If they don’t, you’ll need to contact a professional to properly remove the freon before recycling.
  • If you have a new appliance being delivered, ask your retailer if they can remove and recycle your old appliance for you. 
  • If the appliance you need to dispose of is still in working condition, consider donating it.

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite eco friendly appliances.

GE Energy Star-labeled refrigerator

Equator 72 series dishwasher

GE Profile Advantium 120 combination electric oven

ASKO dishwasher

H3 Environmental 2Pure H20 under counter water filter

Batteries

Batteries can be found in many electronics including your phone and your car. Batteries can be recycled with a take-back program, mail-in program, or even at your local Best Buy or electronics store. Many states don’t even allow you to throw them away, so they must be recycled for this reason and because of their toxicity.

Rules for Recycling

  • Remove all batteries from your electronic device before recycling.
  • DO NOT throw in your curbside recycling bin.
  • Mail-in recycling programs are ideal for many offices. Have your coworkers collect their batteries (from the office and from their homes as well) and mail them in when your box gets filled up!
  • You can also take your batteries to your local electronics store for recycling!
CDs & Tapes

As we grow our electronic capabilities, we outgrow many of our once-beloved devices. Transitioning from records to tapes, and from tapes to CDs is easy if you have the resources. What’s not easy is figuring out what to do with your old materials and devices.

Tapes and CDs are made of plastic— just not food grade plastic. They are not accepted in most recycling facilities. 

Rules for Recycling

  • If your devices and materials are still operational and in pretty good condition, consider donating them to a resale or thrift shop.
  • These items can also be used for many DIY projects and crafts!
  • You can also mail these objects and devices to the CD Recycling Center of America. Check their website for further instructions!

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a few different ways to reuse CDs and tapes before recycling.

Computers

Your old cathode ray tube, or CRT, monitor may not serve a purpose in your crowded office any longer, but it can still serve a purpose. This monitor contains at least four pounds on lead, and if you have a liquid-crystal display, or LCD, screen, chances are it is backlit with fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury. Lead and mercury are both highly toxic metals that, when handled incorrectly, can be incredibly dangerous.

Rules for Recycling

  • DO NOT throw in your regular recycling bin.
  • Unplug all cables and wrap them in a plastic bag or with a band. tape them to the unit.
  • Exercise caution when traveling your monitor since it contains toxic metals.
  • Staples, Best Buy, and many other electronics retailers will accept your monitor for recycling.
  • If you have multiple monitors and electronics to recycle, consider calling an electronic recycler and having them send a truck out to pick up your items.
  • Many computer manufacturers offer a credit when you recycle your old devices with them. Call or check their website to maximize your efforts.
Electronics

Big electronics need recycling just as much, if not more than, smaller electronics. They are not easier to handle, but it is worth it to not throw them away in your regular garbage/recycling bins. These large electronics contain metals that are easily recycled and can be toxic if handled wrong. 

Large Electronic Categories

  • TVs
  • VHS & DVD Players
  • Printers
  • Fax Machines
  • Fans
  • Speakers

Rules for Recycling

  • Remove batteries, if applicable.
  • DO NOT throw in your regular recycling bin.
  • Restore factory settings, if possible, to protect your private information.
  • If these devices are still in working condition, consider reselling or donating them.
  • Remove all cords and attach them to the unit(s) they belong to.
  • Exercise caution when traveling your device as you do not want to break them and expose its toxic innards.
  • If you work in an office, consider organizing a yearly electronic recycling event.
  • Call your local solid waste department and ask if they have an electronic recycling program.
  • If not, call retailers (Best Buy, Staples, etc.) in your area and they will take your old electronics for recycling.

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite eco friendly paper companies.

Ink Cartridges

Hundreds of millions of printer cartridges are bought every year and more than half of them are dumped in our landfills. These cartridges are recyclable and refillable, so why do we keep throwing them away with the weekly garbage? 

Reduce & Reuse

Ink cartridges can be refilled up to three times, but I have never met a person that has opted to refill instead of purchase a new cartridge. After they cannot be refilled any more, they can be recycled. 

Retailers can refill your cartridges and they can recycle them when you are finished. You can even refill your cartridges at home!

Rules for Recycling

  • DO NOT throw in your regular recycling bin.
  • Most office supply retailers can refill and recycle your empty cartridges for you. Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot offer rewards when you recycle and re-buy with them!
  • Even HP allows you to ship your cartridges to them for recycling free of charge. 
  • Cartridges For Kids operates a charity program that collects these items and gives money to schools in return.
Phones

 

 

  

  

Rules for Recycling

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Glass

All Glass

  

Rules for Recycling

  • Remove caps and corks
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Reduce & Reuse

Below are a variety of ways to reuse glass before recycling.

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that provide eco friendly glass.

Uncommon Goods: Recycled Glass Gifts

Trocadero 1903: Glassware

Wean Green: Food Storage

Glassnow: Bulk jars

American Specialty Glass: Home & Business Construction

Glass Recycled: Countertops

KAT Fabricators: Countertops

 

Extra

Christmas Tree

 

Rules for Recycling

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Construction Waste

    

Rules for Recycling

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  • Donate cabinets, sinks, mirrors, and other fixtures to 
  • Shingles can be diverted from the waste stream and transformed into asphalt pavement for our streets and highways.

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a variety of beautiful ways to create art from construction waste.

Corks

 

Rules for Recycling

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Medicine

   

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Rules for Disposing

  • Find a take back program in your local community or a pharmacy that will take the medication
  • Do not flush down the drain
  • Do not send your medication back to the manufacturer
Medical Supplies

 

Medical Sharp Categories

Rules for Disposing

Home

Apparel & Accessories

 

Rules for Recycling

  • Good-condition clothing can be donated to a thrift store like Value Village, Goodwill or Salvation Army.
  • Host a clothing swap
  • Some companies like Patagonia accept their own clothing items back for recycling, while fashion retailers like H&M and American Eagle Outfitters offer in-store clothing recycling bins to collect textiles and accessories of any brand, so recycling your clothing is now as easy as a trip to the mall.
Bathroom

  

Bathroom Product Categories

  • Plastic Bottles
  • Paperboard
  • Plastic Cups
  • Rigid Plastics
  • Plastic Film
  • Flexible Plastics
  • Rigid Plastics

Rules for Recycling

  • It helps to get as much shampoo out as possible, but a quick rinse is fine — don’t worry about squeezing out every last drop.
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  • This is usually treated the same way as plastic bags, which are often accepted at major retailers and other drop-off locations, but not in curbside pickups.

Carpet & Rugs

         

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that provide eco friendly carpet and rugs.

Cleaners

   

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that provide eco friendly cleaners.

Branch Basics

Grove Collaborative

Method Home

Seventh Generation

Common Good

ECOS

JR Watkins

Mrs. Meyer’s

Better Life

Caldrea

Ecover

Puracy

Eco-Me

Veles

Cooking Oil

 

Rules for Recycling

  • Do not add to your compost pile
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Cookware

Any cook worth his or her salt uses and abuses cookware for the most delicious of causes – but what happens to pots, pans, spatulas and whisks when they’re all used up? 

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite eco friendly cookware companies.

 

Furniture

  

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite eco friendly cookware companies.

Items That Contain Mercury

Please refer to epa.gov for a full list of items that contain mercury.   

Rules for Recycling

  • Some manufacturers and retailers do offer take-back programs for mercury-containing items.
Paint

    

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that provide eco friendly paint.

Pesticide Containers

 

Rules for Disposing

  • Throw away in curbside trash

Metal

Cans

      

Rules for Recycling

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Reduce & Reuse

Below are a variety of ways to reuse glass before recycling.

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that eco friendly products that come in cans.

Aluminum Foil

Foil is made from the same material as soda cans (aluminum), but since it’s most often contaminated with food waste or combined with plastic (like with yogurt tops), there’s no guarantee you can recycle it with your aluminum cans.

   

Rules for Recycling

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Reduce & Reuse

Below are a variety of ways to reuse aluminum foil before recycling.

Metal

     

Rules for Recycling

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Reduce & Reuse

Below are a variety of ways to reuse aluminum foil before recycling.

Paper

Books & Magazines

While all paper accounts for half of the weight picked up in local curbside programs, books and magazines are some of the heaviest paper products picked up. These items fall under our “mixed paper” category, which has a very low recycling market for reuse.   saves 

Books & Magazine Categories

  • Phone Books
  • Magazines
  • Hardcover Books
  • Paperback Books

Rules for Recycling

  • Check if your local community has a reused book store you can sell or donate your old books to before recycling them curbside.
  • Throw away wet or distorted books and magazines.
  • Leave magazines in tack. Do not remove staples, ads, samples, etc.
  • If magazine came in plastic bag, remove from the bag and recycle separately.
  • Remove cover on hardcover books.
Cardboard & Paperboard

Over half of the cardboard collected is used to make new cardboard boxes, and additional cardboard can be down cycled into paperboard (used for cereal boxes) or chipboard (used for shoeboxes). Making 1 ton of new cardboard requires 3 tons of trees, whereas, recycling 1 ton of cardboard eliminates 9 cubic yards of landfill space.  

Cardboard & Paperboard Categories

  • Corrugated Cardboard
  • Waxed Cardboard: Used to handle extreme temperatures.

Rules for Recycling

  • Flatten boxes
  • Wet cardboard doesn’t have a recycling market
  • Remove any shipping materials such as packing peanuts, plastic bags and bubble wrap
  • Use a knife or scissors to cut any tape used to seal the top and/or bottom of boxes

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that sell eco friendly cardboard boxes and provide boxes you can rent for your move to lower waste.

Cardboard Boxes

EcoBox

Eco Enclose

Packlane

 

Cartons

  

  

Books & Magazine Categories

  • Refrigerated Cartons
  • Shelf Cartons

Rules for Recycling

  • Remove the plastic lids, caps and straws from cartons
  • Rinse out empty cartons
  • Look for the Recycle symbol on packaging before recycling
Gift Cards & Gift Wrap

    

Gift Cards & Gift Wrap Categories

  • Gift Boxes & Bags
  • Plastic Cards
  • Wrapping Paper

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a few different ways to reuse common household items to use as gift wrap.

Rules for Recycling

  • Gift boxes are often accepted by curbside recycling programs
  • Gift bags are a little more difficult to recycle, but you should be able to find a drop-off location that accepts them
  • See if your community has recycling events for collection of holiday decorations and similar items
  • Gift Cards need to be dropped off at a local pickup location or mail-in program
  • Gift cards can be recycled into new gift cards, hotel key cards, signs and luggage tags
  • Wrapping paper with glitter or plastics cannot be recycled

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite eco friendly gift wrap and accessory companies.

Wrappily

Green Field Paper

Bella Gift Wrap

Newspaper

 

Rules for Recycling

  • Can we composted
  • Do not recycle wet or soiled newspaper
  • The plastic bag around the newspaper can be recycled

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a few different ways to reuse newspaper before recycling.

 

Other Ideas

  • Create Art (i.e. sculptures, paintings, drawings)
  • Use to Clean Your Windows
  • Make Envelopes for Mailing

 

Paper

  

Paper Categories

  • Mixed Paper
  • Office Paper
  • Greeting Cards
  • Paper Tubes

Rules for Recycling

  • Do not recycle wet or soiled paper
  • Use a black marker to remove sensitive information instead of shredding the paper
  • Put shredded paper in a larger box or container
  • Verify what types of paper your curbside pickup accepts
  • Flatted boxes

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a few different ways to reuse paper before recycling.

Other Ideas

  • Print on both sides of the paper to reduce waste
  • Send a fax with it
  • Use to create various art projects (i.e. Sculptures, Paintings, Book Arts)
  • Test print drafts of new projects
  • Make your own recycled paper
  • Create a sketchbook or notebook
  • Use as stuffing for shipping items

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite eco friendly paper companies.

Paper Cups

      

Rules for Recycling

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Reduce & Reuse

Below are a few different ways to reuse paper cups before recycling.

Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that sell biodegradable & compostable cups. This means when you throw your cup away, it will naturally break down into Earth over time.

Plastic

Plastic Bags, Film & Wrap

   

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a few different ways to reuse common household items to use as gift wrap.

Other Ideas

  • Make reusable bags, clutches, etc.
  • Use as an art canvas for painting
  • Weave home decor (i.e. baskets, rugs, chairs)

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that sell plastic bag, film, and wrap alternatives.

Stasher: Reusable Silicone Bags

Vonn Art: Illustrative 100% Recycled Tote Bag

Totebag Factory: Customizable Tote Bags

Unwasted: Silicone Stretchable Lids

The Earthline Co: Cotton Produce Bags

Bee’s Wrap: Food Wrap

Bottles & Caps

      

       

Reduce & Reuse

Below are a few different ways to reuse plastic bottles and jugs.

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Whether you’re craving water, a soda, juice, milk, etc. try to always buy from companies that do not use plastic in their packaging.

Packing Peanuts

 

Why reuse packing peanuts?  

Rules for Recycling

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Go Eco Friendly

Below are our favorite companies that provide eco friendly packing supplies.

Uline: Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

Eco Enclose: Alternative Box Fillers

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