Seven Easy Ways To Become a Super-Recycler Seven Easy Ways To Become a Super-Recycler

Seven Easy Ways To Become a Super-Recycler

Twenty years ago, only one curbside recycling program existed in the United States. Today? Around 9,000. Chances are, your neighborhood has curbside recycling, and if it doesn’t, a recycling drop-off center is probably nearby. You can recycle so much more than just paper, metal and plastic. Here are seven easy ways to take your recycling to the next level.

1. Know Your Local Recycling Program
First things first—make sure you are recycling the right way. Check the recycling rules for your neighborhood, and make sure that everything you put in that recycling bin can actually be processed by your recycling facility. You might also find out that you can recycle more kinds of plastic, paper, and metals than you thought.

2. Don’t Forget to Reuse
This is perhaps easier than recycling—reusing what you might have thrown away. You might find lots of alternate uses for cardboard, glass and cans. Think about using cardboard and plastic bags as packing materials for your next Ebay sale. Or, turn that empty can of corn into an art project for your kid. You can also check online communities like Craigslist and even bulletin boards in your own town for artists in search of materials. They just might be seeking out your chipped dish collection for mosaic material.

3. Recycle for a Good Cause
Plenty of non-profit organizations and schools have collection bins for paper recycling like newspapers, magazines, catalogs and office scraps. A recycling company picks up the goods, and then gives money back to the organization. So, by recycling your paper, you’re also giving to a nonprofit organization. You can also recycle big objects, like cars, to nonprofits. You’ll get the tax write-off, and they’ll get something they can sell.

4. Recycle Computers Wisely
Got an old computer? Don’t throw it in the trash. Harmful chemicals can leech out into the landfill and into the environment. You can give your computer to local organizations who might refurbish the computer, or you can give it to an organization that will safely recycle it. Also check with your computer’s manufacturer—they might have a recycling program in place.

5. Give Your Old Cell Phone to a Worthy Cause

Another electronic you can’t throw out are old cell phones—in California, it’s even against the law to send it to a landfill. Luckily, programs collect old cell phones and then put them to good use. One program gives phones to domestic violence victims so that they’ll always have a free way to call for help. To find out who to give your old phones to, ask the store where you purchased the phone. They might be able to take it, or they can tell you where to take it.

6. Paint, Batteries and Car Fluids—Don’t Throw Them Out!
Okay, so you’re not supposed to dump many of the chemicals you put in (or take out of) your car, and you’re supposed to use up every stitch of paint you bought the last time you redecorated. Batteries—you’d only ever use the rechargeable variety, right? The fact is, all of these things need to be disposed of properly, and it’s always a little tricky to find out who takes these. For car fluids, check with your mechanic or a service station. They might take them, or at the very least, they would know where you could dispose of them properly. For paint, consider trying to give your remains away to a starving artist, but if that fails, ask your paint store what to do with it. Check with your local recycling program about battery disposal.

7. Recycle Everything Else
You can recycle tons of things, and reuse or donate the rest. Here are a few other items that you might consider giving away:

  • Eyeglasses: Take your old glasses to an optical chain or to a Lion’s Club drop-off box. Refurbished glasses are given to needy people in developing countries.
  • Wire Hangers: Take these back to the drycleaner. Often, they’ll take them to reuse.
  • Packing Material: Many packing and mailing stores will take Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap and cardboard.
  • Plastic Bags: Grocery stores often have bins to collect your used plastic bags. Drop yours off, and buy some reusable cloth bags instead.
  • Clothing, Records, Furniture: Second-hand shops thrive on these, or you can sell it or give it away on Craigslist, Ebay, and Freecycle.


Whenever you do recycle, remember to complete the triangle. Reuse what you can, and buy recycled products whenever possible. Whether this means paper towels and plastic cups, or that new-to-you dresser, you’ll be taking your green lifestyle to a whole new level.

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