If there’s any downside to recycling, it’s this:
Many of the ideas feel, well, pretty recycled by now.
Newspapers, cans and bottles, your Dad’s “classic” joke as he’s about to carve the Thanksgiving turkey … Who among us isn’t totally familiar with the haul-‘em-out-so-they-can-be-reused-again-and-again routine?
Crayons are just one of many common items you might not have known could be recycled, at great benefit to the environment. AJC file photo by Joey Ivansco
Not that that’s anything wrong with that. It’s great that so many people are devoted to making the Earth a cleaner, safer place by routinely recycling those more commonplace objects.
But what about the less commonplace ones? Or, put another way, those everyday items you’ve been wedging down the trash shute or hiding at the bottom of the Hefty garbage bag for years because of the common belief they weren’t recyclable?
Not only are they, some of them are donated to worthwhile causes or turned into things you might never have imagined possible (We’re looking at you, No nonsense Pantyhose!).
Check out this list and figure out what you can send off to a better place. Sadly, though, you’re on your own when it comes to Pop’s jokes.
Who knew coloring was potentially an environmental threat? Millions of crayons are produced in the U.S. annually. Most are made from petroleum based wax that will eventually end up in landfills — over 500,000 pounds of broken Burnt Umbers or nubbed-down Deep Purples annually, according to The Crayon Initiative. That organization collects used crayons, “remanufactures” them into new ones and provides them to hospitals caring for children. Go to their web site to find out how to organize or participate in a collection drive. Another option is Crazy Crayons , which recycles used crayons into new ones. It sells them, with money going back to The Crayon Recycle Program and environmental education. Complete information on collecting and shipping crayons to the recycle program can be found here.
The average woman owns six bras, but only wears two, according to The Bra Recyclers. And those only last about seven months on average before they get thrown out or shoved in the back of a bureau drawer. You can donate new or “gently used” bras to The Bra Recyclers; this Arizona-based textile company works with some 80 organizations to provide recycled bras to women who are homeless, victims of domestic violence or human trafficking or living in developing countries. Go here to learn more about how you can help (they also accept nursing and mastectomy bras), local drop off locations and how to mail in bras.
Yes, really! No longer does that bag of Rover’s latest haircut clippings need to get tossed into a fast food parking lot dumpster when you think nobody’s looking. Instead, you can donate it to Matter of Trust’s Clean Wave program , which turns fur, feathers, horse hair, human hair, feathers and other items into woven “mats” that are ideal for soaking up oil from ocean spills and other polluted areas. To participate, you need to sign up on Excess Access, their site that matches donations with needs.
EPS Loose Fill Packaging
Or, as it’s more affectionately known to many of us: “Those X!*&8!* styrofoam packing peanuts!” Invaluable when you’re trying to safely ship the antique china music box containing Great Aunt Gert’s ashes, they maddeningly stick to everything wherever you open a package. Some UPS stores accept used, clean packing peanuts (check with individual stores). The EPS Industry Alliance has a Loose Fill Reuse Program that refers consumers to businesses in their area that accept packaging peanuts for reuse (click on the “Recycling Resources for Consumers” tab on the web site). There’s also information on how and where you can mail EPS to, including two locations in Georgia.
Most women have a love-hate relationship with pantyhose. So does a leading manufacturer, albeit for a different reason.
“While we love the way sheer hosiery and our stylish tights look on legs, we’re not as thrilled to see them in landfills,” No nonsense said in announcing the first pantyhouse and tights recycling program.
The nylon/spandex blend takes 30-40 years to decompose. So No nonsense now collects all brands of tights, pantyhose, and nylon knee highs and sends them to a recycling facility. The material is “repurposed” and turned into everything from playground equipment and park benches to running tracks and children’s toys.
Go here for packing tips, shipping information and to download a mailing label.
Billions of corks are produced annually according to the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance. That’s a threat both to Mediterranean cork forests and the planet’s carbon footprint. Instead of getting tossed in the trash, wine corks can be recycled and turned into things like floor tiles, shipping containers and bulletin boards. The web site Recork.org has information on recycling, including where in your area you can drop off corks for recycling (it’s a good idea to call a location first to make sure they’re still collecting them). Additionally, you can drop them off at most Whole Foods Markets.
Toothbrushes, yogurt cups, hummus containers and Brita filters
Yep, all in one place. It’s because of what they have in common: They’re all made from #5 plastic, which over a third of American communities don’t accept for recycling, according to the Gimme 5 program. Created by Preserve Products, makers of Preserve toothbrushes, among other items, Gimme 5 collects and recycles #5 plastic products. The web site contains information on dropping off your recyclables at local retail locations or mailing them directly to the Gimme 5 program.