Don’t Trash it – Recycle it!
Does it make sense to recycle? The short answer is: Yes. Moving can sometimes be a great excuse to clean our your old, un-needed, or surplus possessions. But before you toss those old hangers in the garbage, see what can you can do with them and other recyclable items below. We think you’ll find this short list of items and how they are recycled handy during your next move.
These can usually be recycled with other cans, as long as you pull off the plastic cap and empty the canister completely.
The American Birding Association accepts donated backpacks, which its scientists use while tracking neotropical birds (www.americanbirding.org).
Recycling batteries keeps hazardous metals out of landfills. Many stores, like RadioShack and Office Depot, accept reusableones, as does the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (www.rbrc.org/call2recycle). Car batteries contain lead and can’t go in landfills, because toxic metals can leach into groundwater, but almost any retailer selling them will also collect and recycle them.
“Hard covers are too rigid to recycle, so we ask people to remove them and recycle just the pages,” says Sarah Kite, recycling manager of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, in Johnston. In many areas, paperbacks can be tossed in with other paper.
Cars, jet skis, boats, trailers, RVs, and motorcycles. If these are unusable — totaled, rusted — they still have metal and other components that can be recycled. Call junkyards in your area, or go to www.junkmycar.com, which will pick up and remove cars, trailers, motorcycles, and other heavy equipment for free.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fewer than 20 percent of cell phones are recycled each year, and most people don’t know where to recycle them. The Wireless Foundation refurbishes old phones to give to domestic-violence survivors (www.calltoprotect.org); for information on other cell-phone charities, log on to www.recyclewirelessphones.com. In some states, like California and New York, retailers must accept and recycle old cell phones at no charge.
You can return used computers to their manufacturers for recycling (check www.mygreenelectronics.com for a list of vendors) or donate them to a charitable organization (log on to www.sharetechnology.org or www.cristina.org). Nextsteprecycling.org repairs your broken computers and gives them to underfunded schools, needy families, and nonprofits.
DVDs, CDs, and jewel cases.
If you want to get rid of that Lionel Richie CD because “Dancing on the Ceiling” doesn’t do it for you anymore, you can swap it for a disc from another music lover at www.zunafish.com. But if you just want to let it go and not worry about it ending up in a landfill, send it (along with DVDs and jewel cases) to www.greendisk.com for recycling.
There are two types of extinguishers. For a dry-chemical extinguisher, safely relieve the remaining pressure, remove the head from the container, and place it with your bulk-metal items (check with your local recycler first). Alternatively, call fire-equipment companies (listed in the phone book) and request that they dispose of your extinguisher. Carbon dioxide extinguishers are refillable after each use.
Some dry cleaners and laundromats will reuse them. Otherwise, they can be recycled with other household metals. But be sure to remove any attached paper or cardboard first.
After they’ve lined your mantel for two months, you could throw them into the recycling bin…or you could give them a whole new life. St. Jude’s Ranch for Children (www.stjudesranch.org), a nonprofit home for abused and neglected youths, runs a holiday-card reuse program in which the kids cut off the front covers, glue them onto new cards, and sell the result — earning them money and confidence.
Makeup can expire and is none too pretty for the earth when you throw it in the trash (chemicals abound in most makeup). Some manufacturers are making progress on this front. People who turn in six or more empty MAC containers, for example, will receive a free lipstick from the company in return; SpaRitual nail polishes come in re-usable, recyclable glass; and Josie Maran Cosmetics sells biodegradable plastic compacts made with a corn-based resin — just remove the mirror and put the case in your compost heap.
Mattresses and box springs.
Mattresses are made of recyclable materials, such as wire, paper, and cloth, but not all cities accept them for recycling. (Go to www.earth911.org to find out if yours does.)
Styrofoam peanuts cannot be recycled in most areas, but many packaging stores (like UPS and Mail Boxes Etc.) accept them. To find a peanut reuser near you, go to www.loosefillpackaging.com. Some towns recycle Styrofoam packing blocks; if yours doesn’t, visit www.epspackaging.org/info.html to find a drop-off location, or mail them in according to the instructions on the site. Packing pillows marked “Fill-Air” can be deflated (poke a hole in them), then mailed to Ameri-Pak, Sealed Air Recycle Center, 477 South Woods Drive, Fountain Inn SC 29644. They will be recycled into things like trash bags and automotive parts.
Some cities have paint-recycling programs, in which your old paint is taken to a company that turns it into new paint. Go to www.earth911.org to see if a program exists in your area.
Many cities offer collection services. Also check www.yellowpages.com/recycle, or call AT&T’s phone book–recycling line at 800-953-4400.
Don’t send tennis rackets to your local recycling center. “People may think we’re going to give them to Goodwill,” says Sadonna Cody, director of government affairs for the Northbay Corporation and Redwood Empire Disposal, in Santa Rosa, California, “but they’ll just be trashed.” Trade sports gear in at Play It Again Sports (www.playitagainsports.com), or donate it to www.sportsgift.org, which gives gently used equipment to needy kids around the world. Mail to Sports Gift, 32545 B Golden Lantern #478, Dana Point CA 92629. As for skis, send them to Skichair.com, 4 Abbott Place, Millbury MA 01527; they’ll be turned into Adirondack-style beach chairs.
Rugs (cotton or wool).
If your town’s recycling center accepts rugs, great. If not, you’re out of luck, because you can’t ship rugs directly to a fabric recycler; they need to be sent in bulk. Your best bet is to donate them to the thrift store of a charity, like the Salvation Army.
Shopping bags (paper).
Even those with metal grommets and ribbon handles can usually be recycled with other paper.
Shopping bags (plastic).
“Americans recycled 812 million pounds of bags in 2006, up 24 percent from 2005,” says Keith Christman, senior director of packaging at the American Chemistry Council Plastics Division, which represents plastic manufacturers. If your town doesn’t recycle plastic, you may be able to drop them off at your local grocery store. Safeway, for example, accepts grocery and dry-cleaning bags and turns them into plastic lumber. (To find other stores, go to www.plasticbagrecycling.org.) What’s more, a range of retailers, like City Hardware, have begun to use biodegradable bags made of corn. (BioBags break down in compost heaps in 10 to 45 days.)
Stereos and VCRs.
Visit www.earth911.org for a list of recyclers, retail stores, and manufacturers near you that accept electronics. Small companies are popping up to handle electronic waste (or e-waste) as well: Greencitizen.com in San Francisco will pull apart your electronics and recycle them at a cost ranging from nothing to 50 cents a pound. And the 10 nationwide locations of Freegeek.org offer a similar service.
You can often leave old tires with the dealer when you buy new ones (just check that they’ll be recycled). Worn-out tires can be reused as highway paving, doormats, hoses, shoe soles, and more.
Best Buy will remove and recycle a set when it delivers a new one. Or bring old ones to Office Depot to be recycled. Got a Sony TV? Take it to a drop-off center listed at www.sony.com/recycle.
Some towns recycle clothing into seat stuffing, upholstery, or insulation. Also consider donating clothing to animal boarders and shelters, where it can be turned into pet bedding.
Videotapes, cassettes, and floppy disks.
These aren’t accepted. “Videotapes are a nightmare,” says Outerbridge. “They get tangled and caught on everything.” Instead, send tapes to ACT (www.actrecycling.org), a facility in Columbia, Missouri, that employs disabled people to clean, erase, and resell videotapes. You can also send videotapes, cassettes, and floppy disks to www.greendisk.com; recycling 20 pounds or less costs $6.95, plus shipping.
Ship your old lights to HolidayLEDs.com, Attention: Recycling Program, 120 W. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1403, Jackson MI 49201. The company will send you a coupon for 10 percent off its LED lights, which use 80 percent less energy and last 10 years or more. And they’re safer, too. LEDs don’t generate much heat, whereas incandescents give off heat, which can cause a dry Christmas tree to catch fire.
For more San Diego Moving and Storage ideas be sure to visit Atlas Transfer & Storage Co.