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Bulk of what we throw away can be recycled or reused

Mon., Feb. 6, 2012

Who really wants to contribute to our growing landfills? There are things we toss away everyday that make up the bulk of our trash and they don’t even belong in our garbage bins. Here are my Top 7 ways to be less trashy so you can get started today.

Recycle that paperboard: Paperboard is the thin cardboard packaging that holds so many of the items we buy – think cereal boxes, packaging for toys, and even tissue boxes. In the city of Spokane, you must pay for a separate mixed paper bin to recycle paperboard at the curb.

Paper is valuable: Do you recycle all the paper that comes into your home? You know – school work, junk mail, magazines and the like? The general rule for paper is that if it’s free of food waste, it can be recycled.

Don’t waste the leftovers: It might shock you to find out that a third of what goes in our trash bags is food. Instead of letting it go to rot in a landfill, consider composting it.

Give electronics a second life: E-waste is the fastest growing disposal problem in this country. Electronics contain heavy metals that are both dangerous and valuable. My go-to websites for electronic buyback programs and qualified recyclers are listed at

Reuse, reuse, reuse: Don’t trash what you can reuse. Whether you turn baby food jars into paint containers, milk cartons into bird feeders, or this year’s holiday cards into next year’s gift tags – there are plenty of ways to get creative with things that might ordinarily wind up in the trash.

What are you (not) wearing? Well cared for clothes hold a lot of value and can be sold to others through consignment shops or online sites such as eBay. If you’re looking to donate them, consider Goodwill, Salvation Army, women’s shelters, or Dress for Success programs. And get this, clothes that are torn but not contaminated with chemicals, can still be donated to Goodwill. These items are sold in bulk to clothing recyclers.

Don’t shop for trash: Think twice before buying items such as paper plates, bottles of water, and food in individual serving sizes. There are less trashy options such as renting or borrowing extra party supplies, buying in bulk, and using reusable containers. That way, those items don’t spend decades waiting to decompose in our landfills.

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