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Proper Green: Small Town Recycling Blues

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What do you do when you live in a rural area that doesn’t offer recycling? Proper Green’s got you covered with solutions on how to get rid of your small town blues.
Dear Proper Green,

I live in a small rural community that has yet to see the benefits of total recycling. We're doing better but still have a long ways to go. In the meantime, I have a lot of glass bottles and nowhere to recycle them. They end up in the landfill. I have a lot of used paint and other toxic household items and nowhere to recycle them. What can be done?

- Pam G.

Dear Pam,

Earth911 is a great resource we love to tell Recyclebankers about. You can search for the nearest locations to recycle everything from glass to e-waste, and find out where to properly dispose of toxic products you may not be able to recycle.

You can also check in with local businesses — they may have solutions for their recyclables and may be willing to take yours in as well. Many supermarkets collect plastic bags for recycling and have buy-back programs for aluminum cans and plastic beverage bottles, hardware stores sometimes offer some kind of take-back program (especially for big, unwieldy pieces), and you can usually recycle e-waste like cellphones and old computers at electronics stores.

If you're finding that the nearest recycling drop off locations are still a ways away from your small rural town and closer to the nearest city center, consider storing recyclables in your basement, backyard, shed, or garage until you're making a trip in that direction. And get your neighbors involved! If they've got recyclables, offer to drop them off on your trip and see if members of your community would be interested in returning the favor — start a little green carpool revolution in your town!

The other thing to consider with some recyclables is reuse. You can find tons of great DIY projects for things you might normally throw away. Check out this inspiring Pinterest board with 101 ways to upcycle glass jars and bottles, and get your craft on!

What do you do with recyclables that your municipality doesn't take? Do you upcycle, find drop off locations, or something else? Share in the comments below!
About Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and the environment are still evolving) to providing easy ways to make your every day more sustainable, Proper Green aims to help smooth the way with answers to questions that are important to you!

Do you have a question for Proper Green? Send inquiries to Please note: Questions may be edited for clarity and length.

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Proper Green
Proper Green

Proper Green is Recyclebank's green advice column. From promoting good manners in a green world (because ideas about what constitutes proper behavior and... more

  • SL S. 5 years ago
    Perhaps you could store them until you take a trip/vacation to an area that has a recycling center. Storage is always difficult.
  • elaine l. 5 years ago
    Our city itself takes aluminum, tin, paper and plastics (but only #s 1 & 2) but not glass. However, Target stores have recycling bins at the entrance that DO take glass! Which is awesome because Louisiana is big on drinking large amounts of alcohol...the glass bin is always stuffed full with beer and wine bottles. :-D
  • Donna H. 5 years ago
    We have a recycling plant close to our home so we seperate our recycling things and take it there. When we have stuff they don't take they always tell us where they can take it so we always find places to take most of ours.
  • Sarah B. 5 years ago
    I send recycleables to school for my sons terra cycle program they offer.It gives the school money for school landscaping & play ground equipment.
  • Winnie J. 5 years ago
    We used to live in an area without curbside recycling. With young kids we didn't have the time to recycle anymore. However, we were able to give bottles/glass away to cleaning lady who was willing to recycle it for us (she kept the money of course). Occasionally I would bring some bottles in to work because our cleaning person at work also recycled. Don't know if that could be an option.
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