I spent last week visiting some of the landfills TerraPass works with to create carbon offsets. As always, it was great to see these projects and the positive impact they’re having firsthand. But spending so much time around so much trash really drove home how important recycling is for decreasing one’s personal impact on the planet. Paper, plastic, and metal recycling is relatively widespread these days, but what about all the other stuff we throw out? Turns out that with a little effort, a lot more than your average shampoo bottle can be recycled.
DVDs, CDs, and jewel cases: thanks to the mp3 revolution, most of the CDs I owned dated from my middle school days. Companies like Greendisk will recycle your old CDs for the cost of shipping.
Crayons: got a box of old crayons lying around? The National Crayon Recycle program melts down bits of old crayons and turns them into shiny, new, earth-friendly crayons, again for the cost of shipping. Check out Crazy Crayons for details.
Snack remnants, office supplies, and Huggies: a company called TerraCycle will actually pay you to collect yogurt cups, chip bags, candy wrappers, tape dispensers, Elmer’s Glue, Huggies Diaper Packages, and a bunch of other things, which they turn into all sorts of products.
Packing peanuts: with the holiday shipping season upon us, you’re likely to end up with a box of styrofoam peanuts in the next couple of weeks. The Plastic Loose Fill Council recycles packing peanuts, and the have hundreds of drop-off locations around the country.
Tinfoil: if you can recycle aluminum cans in your recycling container, you can recycle tinfoil too (it’s actually made from aluminum). Be sure to rinse off any food scraps first.
Computers, televisions, monitors, electronic gadgets: there are a variety of e-waste recyclers out there — you can find a program near you on this site. Many computer companies (including Dell and Apple) have takeback programs in place. If you’re close to TerraPass HQ in the Bay Area, you can donate old computers and monitors to Resource Area for Teaching, and your old electronics will be reused in a needy classroom.
Finally, it bears repeating that a wide variety of items (from clothes to furniture to still functioning electronics) can always find a new home through your local Goodwill, which often has the added benefit of raising money for a local charity.
You can find a much longer list of things to recycle here. What unusual items have you managed to recycle, and how?