Around 58 percent of Americans recycle their household waste. This results in 251 million tons of recovered trash in the United States every year. But some people are not content to recycle just their paper, cans, and bottles. They believe that almost everything can have a second—or third—life somewhere. They are among a growing number of folk who feel the same way. And with a little extra effort, you can join the next recycling revolution.
- Wear it and Share It: Old clothing makes up about 6 percent of the total municipal waste stream every year. But good used clothing can be donated to charity organizations or second-hand shops. Worn out textiles like cotton, denim, flannel, wool, and linen can recycled and made into industrial rags, high-quality paper, car insulation, and seat stuffing. Look online for local textile recycling companies.
- Don’t Recycle, Freecycle: The Freecycle Network (Freecycle.org) is an on-line nonprofit organization which operates in 85 countries and has over 7 million registered members. Members of the grassroots organization are listed by city and region. They simply post notices for stuff they want to give away or stuff they need. Items in my area included lightly used mattresses, juicers, and computer printers. Freecycle is sort of like E-Bay but everything is free.
- Don’t Waste Electronics: Electronic waste, or e-waste generation, is a massive problem. Around 85 percent of old electronics end up in landfills. They account for 70 percent of overall toxic waste which includes lead and countless nasty chemicals. While e-waste can’t be recycled with other household garbage, most cities have certified recyclers that take everything from used computer chips to big-screen TVs. Take your used batteries to Radio Shack, Ikea, Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy, or Staples.
- 911: The website, Earth911 allows you to type in what materials you want to recycle and your zip code. From here, the site lists recyclers of automotive products, electronics, construction materials, garden waste, paint, plastic, and more. If you have old computer monitors, DVD players, garden chemicals and other junk piling up in the garage, this site will inspire you to recycle it.