Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How the HECK do I recycle THAT?


With the holidays having come and gone, new-year cleaning/reorganizing has begun and with that I have come up with a lot of things made from plastic or toxic materials that I REAAAAALLY don't want to put in the landfill. So I have taken it upon myself to find out if there is any hope for keeping these things in the society and out of the earth. is a list of some hard to recycle items and their (possible) solutions. And this is only a partial list b/c calling all these companies takes FOR-EV-ER!

I will be distinguishing between "recycle" and "reuse" here because they are very different in nature.  Recycling does take some resources but it also turns useless things like old computers into useful things like new computers. Reusing takes little to no earthly resources (fuel, electricity etc) and keeps the products in the world they way they are. However, there's only so many hanger-mobiles or CD-scarecrows you can have before you need to recycle THOSE too!

Recycle: literally "to cause to pass through a cycle again" according to But it also means "to alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature of".

So, can you recycle...?
  • CDs/DVDs? YES! I used to work for the CU Engineering Center doing distance learning and I remember scratching CD after CD then putting them in a box to be shipped off to some big CD recycling place somewhere. So I was thinking...are those places still around? Because just this morning I noticed my gigantor CD binder filled w/ burned CDs many of which I'll probably never listen to again (thank you, Apple...) and thought "Gee...those guys are going to just sit in my house till I get tired of them but THEN where will they go?" The CD Recycling Center is just one place online I found that you can ship your CDs and cases to. Of course, this does cost money, in both the shipping costs as well as the $2.00 donation per shipment they ask to help keep their services free. But hey, $2 is better than $5 or $10 or $20 or $100 right?  So I still think it's a win! There's also a new program in which some bigger Best Buy stores are accepting CDs and DVDs w/o cases to recycle. I have a lot more info on this so check out my previous post: Holy Moly! It's Best Buy!
  •  Computers - Best Buy!
  • Metal Hangers?  - YES! My local recycling joint, Eco-Cycle, will take them in their scrap metal bin. 
  • Plastic Hangers (the cheapo kind from clothing stores)? (you know, the ones that say size S on the top?) - Maybe. I've heard that some supermarkets will but I can't find any in my area that do. But you can reuse them (I gave them to my mom for her belly dance stuff)!
  • VHSs - Best Buy!
  • Plastic Bottle Lids - If you read one of my earlier posts plastic lids, you'll find out that plastic is scary. I'm still not sure on this one, I did find Preserve Products which recycles #5 and 6 plastics and toothbrushes, but I'm not sure where lids fall on the number scale. But this company is cool b/c they make stuff back out of the plastic! Also, theoretically, Aveda used to do these, but I'm not sure of the status now, so give 'em a call to find out!

Reuse: While "recycle" means to adapt and change a product, "reuse" means "to use again" or basically "repurpose" a item without changing its form or its nature. 

Can you reuse...?
  • Air-filled Packing bags - YES! My place that takes the peanuts will also take the air-filled bags.
  • CDs  - YES! Coasters! But seriously...apparently they work great as "scare crows" in gardens that keep the birds away. We'll see...
  • Packing Peanuts/Plastic Loose Fill? - YES! Please see my previous post: These Peanuts Don't Make Good Butter.
  • Plastic hangers from clothing stores? (you know, the ones that say size S on the top?) - YES! Some thrift stores will take these like the Salvation Army but make sure to check first b/c if they don't use them, they'll just throw them away. You can also do crafts with these like baby mobiles and, if you're really talented, knitted hanger covers
  • VHSs - these guys are tough to deal with. The best thing to do is find out if places near you (schools, libraries, homeless shelters etc.) are not equipped with DVD equipment and you can donate them there. Or, you can crochet things from their tape. haha!
  • Plastic Bottle Lids: My cat shelter, the Rocky Mountain Siamese Rescue does take them to make cat toys out of and you can use them in all kinds of fun crafts. This probably merits its own post sometime in the future....

Here are some good resources to check out for hard to recycle items:
  1. How Can I Recycle This? Note: this is UK site so some info might be different, so research first!
  2. Eco-Cycle, Western Disposal, Waste Management (or your local recycling place website)
  3. Freecycle "The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,904 groups with 8,075,584 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and thus keeping good stuff out of landfills."
  4. The InterWebz - I know you're probably like...WTF? Of course I know this one, I'm reading your blog, aren't I? But that is where I got all of my info in this post. Oh yeah, and I called a f-load of stores. =)
*chokegasp* OMG....finally done! Enjoy! *shudder*

    1 comment:

    1. The best way I've found to recycle plastic store hangers is to leave them at the store. Target reuses their hangers, and I'm willing to bet most other stores do too. :)