August 15, 2011 in Features

Do Your Part: Always consider recycling solutions

Terri Bennett McClatchy Newspapers
 

Stumped on what to do with stuff you can’t toss in the recycling bin? Don’t trash it before finding out how to do your part with even the trickiest of items.

Here are my “Top 5 Solutions to Your Recycling Problems”.

Light bulbs: CFLs – or compact fluorescent light bulbs – should never be thrown away because they contain a small amount of mercury.

Several big companies have convenient dropoff sites and will recycle them responsibly. Lowe’s and Home Depot stores have in-store recycling bins for unbroken CFLs and many full service-recycling centers will also accept them.

Plastic bags and baggies: The last thing you should do with plastic bags and baggies is to throw them away. They take thousands of years – if not more – to break down in a landfill.

Instead, reuse them first. Even the smallest plastic baggies can be rinsed out and used again.

You can return most plastic shopping bags for recycling at many grocery stores. And some supermarkets (and Walmart and Target stores) will also accept plastic sandwich bags labeled with a 4 plastic resin code, newspaper bags and plastic wraps. Check with your local store for details.

Batteries: Batteries should never be thrown away because of the heavy metals they contain, which can contaminate land and water. Instead, recycle those prized materials responsibly.

Some curbside recycling programs (including the city of Spokane’s) will accept batteries, and there are other retailers and recycling centers that will take your old batteries.

Earth911.org and the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (www.call2recycle.org) both provide online directories to help you find battery recyclers near where you live.

Tattered clothing: Most of us have given away boxes of good clothing to Goodwill or other charitable organizations. But what about old clothing or things like rags, bedding or towels, which are too worn out to be reused?

Well, Goodwill wants them too so long as the material is not wet or contaminated with chemicals (though you won’t get credit for a charitable donation, since they have no value). These items are sorted and sold for recycling or other uses such as sofa stuffing.

Ink and toner cartridges: Every year, hundreds of millions of ink and toner cartridges are used in this country – and 70 percent of those end up in landfills.

Printer cartridges are easily refilled and recycled. You can also get paid to turn in your old cartridges, anywhere from a few cents to $20 or more per cartridge.

A number of online sources will supply a prepaid shipping label to mail accepted cartridges in exchange for cash. Or you can turn in your used cartridges for recycling at Staples and Office Depot and earn a few dollars store credit.

For specific information on all these recycling solutions and more, check out DoYourPart.com/Columns.

And remember, just because you have something that can’t go into your recycling bin, doesn’t mean it should go to in the trash. Do your part and find a better solution.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist, and host of DoYourPart.com, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com.


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