Most people know they can newspapers and soda bottles, and DO. But how do you handle the other items cluttering basements, garages and closets? Here are some tips for green ways to get rid of abandoned everyday items
Some stores, like Nike offer a Reuse-a-Shoe program, which processes and recycles the footwear into sports surfaces for basketball courts, tennis courts, running tracks and playgrounds. Already, over 20 million pairs of athletic shoes worldwide have been recycled.
Many people upgrade items like game consoles, digital cameras, MP3 players, VCRs, computers, and computer monitors every few years, not to mention all the consumables like VHS tapes, game cartridges, cords, cables, and cassettes. While some municipalities and provinces have plans for recycling these items, a company called GreenDisk does this by mail (for about $7 per 10 kilograms).
Computers contain a number of valuable metals (gold & solver) as well as several harmful chemicals, so it's important to make sure they're properly recycled. Most major computer manufacturers now offer some type of recycling program. Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Apple and Toshiba all have recycling programs - check their Web sites for details. Again, many municipalities and several provinces have recycling plans for computers.
While many municipalities have no formal mattress recycling program, and often charities like Goodwill refuse to take them (citing health issues). Many communities have a Freecycle Network, which is an online community where a bulletin board posts items offered for re-use/re-cycling for whoever want=s to take it off your hands. See the websites for Freecycle and Craigslist.
When you upgrade to a new gizmo (typically, its about every year or two), don't just chuck the old one. Small electronics are full of big toxics. You can drop orphaned cell phones, pagers and PDAs at Staples stores around the country. The company has partnered with non-profit CollectiveGood, which collects and recycles the phones. Some phones are refurbished and re-used in developing countries. Other phones are broken down and the metals are separated out for re-use or proper disposal.
Many dry cleaners, tailors, and alteration shops will take old hangers back and reuse them. Ditto, drycleaners recycle those plastic bags and have drop-off bins when you bring in new cleaning. In some cities, you can recycle drycleaning bags with other plastic bags.
Incidentally, drycleaning has gone "green" over the past few years. The process used to use a harmful chemical known as "perc" with suspected carcinogens, and now cleaners offer either "wet cleaning," and "perc-free" drycleaning, Also consider avoiding buying clothes labeled "dry clean only."
People wonder if they can recycle glass or plastic jars with jam, or peanut butter inside, or beer bottles with a lime wedge stuck inside. The recycling plant can remove most contaminants. Incidentally, don't lump dirty pizza boxes with your paper recycling.,