Live Green and Earn Points


5 Things You Should Always Recycle

By Jen Uscher |

Since you can't throw your television or compact fluorescents in the trash, we'll help you find the best places to recycle.

Chances are you're already recycling the cans, bottles, and paper that gets picked up at the curb, but what about all that other stuff that's lurking in your drawers or closets - like outdated gadgets and dead batteries - that you're not sure how to recycle? The following household items are especially important to donate or recycle because they contain materials that can contaminate the environment if they wind up in landfills or that can easily be reclaimed for use in new products. Here are some convenient ways to keep them out of the trash:

According to the EPA, recycling just one computer CPU and one monitor is equivalent to preventing 1.35 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from being released and recycling one television prevents four to eight pounds of lead from being added to the waste stream.

  1. Electronics: All Office Depot, Staples, and Best Buy stores accept larger electronics like desktop computers for recycling for a small fee (usually $10) and smaller ones like cell phones and PDAs for free. Goodwill stores accept used computer equipment (some locations also accept televisions) for free.

    And you can earn RecycleBank Points by recycling MP3 players/iPods, laptops, and cell phones through our partners at Collective Good, FlipSwap, and Gazelle.

    Why: You'll keep toxic materials like lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and brominated flame retardants out of landfills. And useful materials will be recovered, saving energy and resources.

  2. Rechargeable batteries: From cordless phones and power tools, digital cameras, and other gizmos - these can be recycled for free at 30,000 drop-off points nationwide, including retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe's, RadioShack, Sears, and Target. Enter your zip code at Call2Recycle to find one near you.

    Unfortunately, it's more difficult to find places to recycle alkaline (or single-use) batteries. Try Earth911 to find drop off locations or order a box (for $34.50, including prepaid shipping) from Battery Solutions and send them up to 12 pounds of alkaline and/or rechargeable batteries for recycling.

    Why: Like many electronics, batteries contain heavy metals and other chemicals best kept out of the waste stream. Plus, recyclers reclaim metals from them that are used to make, for example, new batteries and steel.

  3. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, but they contain a small amount of mercury and shouldn't be thrown in the trash. Take them to any Ikea or Home Depot store for recycling or go to Lamp Recycle to find other drop off locations near you.

    Why: CFLs in landfills can break and release mercury, a neurotoxin, into the environment.

  4. Plastic Bags: Even if you've switched to reusable bags for your shopping, you probably have a bunch of these stored in your home. Luckily, lots of retailers like Wal-Mart, Safeway, Albertsons, Wegmans, Krogers, and Giant now have bins where you can recycle plastic grocery bags (and newspaper, drycleaning, bread, and sealable food storage bags). To find a drop off location near you, go to Plastic Bag Recycling or Earth911.

    Why: They're made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and when thrown away they take a very long time to decompose. Recyclers will turn them into new products like plastic lumber.

  5. Anything you don't need that could be of great value to others — for instance, you can donate your used prescription glasses to the nonprofit OneSight at any LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sunglass Hut, Target Optical, or Sears Optical location (or go to One Sight for more locations near you). You can also donate unused, unexpired medications including antibiotics, pain relievers, and others by mailing them to the Health Equity Project. The glasses and medications will be distributed to people in need in developing countries.

Keep in mind that you should always recycle hazardous substances like paint, pesticides, propane gas tanks, and motor oil at your town's household hazardous waste collection events or permanent collection center. Go to Earth911or call 1-800-CLEANUP to find collection sites and events.

Can you suggest more ways of recycling items that aren't picked up at the curb? Share them with us by commenting below.

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Nan M. 3 years ago
    Is there any place to recycle alkaline batteries?
  • james and Ella Mae j. 5 years ago
    great info
  • VALERIE H. 5 years ago
    Neighborhood stop, drop, and get a slip locations like good will, Red Cross, Purple Heart, Old Mother Waddle, and/ or some already established site could be asked if they would start something like this.
  • Elaine F. 5 years ago
    Will do.
  • Star T. 5 years ago
    What I've never quite understood about the recycling process is why we have to pay for the "privilege" of using it? Someone is making money on the recycled material, and honestly, I just can't afford even one more $5.00 monthly bite out of my income! I'd be more than glad to go to the trouble of sorting and setting out my recycled items, but don't make me also pay someone so they can get rich on it!

    Actually, I'm already going a step further than recycling by targeting every possible purchase toward eventual re-use. In my opinion, it's a far better option, and usually costs little or nothing more than a throw-away item, especially packaging. One of my pet peeves (frequently moving beyond peeve to raging fury and total disgust) are those molded plastic blister-packs that so many items are now packaged in. Not only are they not re-usable, they're a hazard to get into! More than once, I've gotten nasty, jagged cuts to my hands trying to wrestle my way into the merchandise! They should pay ME for the supposed security of this monstrosity!

    And a question, while I'm already logged in and posting... why is this a "secure site" ? (Secure website addresses start with "https" instead of just "http") Even my web browser doubts it, making me click through the question of whether I want to go to a secure site it every time I change pages. It's a nuisance and there's no need for secur.ity on an informational website. Even all but a few of PayPal's pages are regular, non-secure pages. Does someone think this website is a bank?
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