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Do Your Part: Cleaning out your purse? Remember to recycle

Terri Bennett McClatchy Newspapers

Most women are familiar with purses filled to the brim with a whole lot of stuff they just don’t need or want.

Think about all the business cards, plastic, receipts, pens and so on. You can do your part with nearly everything inside and avoid dumping any of it into the trash.

Here’s what you need to know if you are inundated with receipts and business cards: Paper ones can be tossed right in the recycling bin. Thermal ones are a different story. Some contain BPA – or Bisphenol A – which can contaminate the recycling process.

Either throw those particular receipts out or shred them to use as packing material. You can find out if your receipt is printed on thermal paper if it makes a mark when you scratch it.

Have old makeup containers? Don’t trash them. Origins ( will take back and recycle any makeup container. M-A-C cosmetics ( will give you a free lipstick when you return six of their primary containers.

Who doesn’t have old pens in the bottom of their purse? Billions of pens wind up in our landfills each year. They can be difficult to recycle.

The upcycler TerraCycle ( works with several companies each year to transform them all into brand new products.

Then there are old gift cards and canceled credit cards that we all have stashed in our wallets. More than 70 million pounds of these plastic cards are trashed each year. Recycle them instead.

The Earthworks organization ( is one place that can help you. It will provide information on how to send them all in and get them recycled for free.

And what about keys you no longer need? Metal is valuable and easily recyclable. Key For Hope ( and Keys For Kindness ( are two organizations that collect unwanted keys for fundraising.

Or, you usually can drop them off at full-service recycling centers and scrap yards.

As for your wallet – and your purse – itself? When you no longer use them, donate them.

Dress for Success ( is an organization that helps disadvantaged women find work. It accepts all items that would help a job seeker present a professional image.

See? There’s really no need to throw any of it out. With a few smarter choices you can do your part to find recycling solutions for practically everything in your purse.

There are links to all of these recycling programs at

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