Did you know that the average American generates almost 5 pounds of waste per day but only recycles 1.5 pounds? Let’s change that. This article was originally posted on America Recycles Day, and to celebrate, here are the answers to some of your commonly asked recycling questions:
Q. Can I recycle batteries?
Yes! Get in the habit of never throwing batteries in the trash, especially rechargeable ones. They contain heavy metals, which can leak and contaminate the environment. See if your local electronics recycler accepts batteries. If not, sometimes electronics retailers and hardware stores offer battery recycling programs.
The good news about technology is that more and more devices are using rechargeable batteries that you just need to plug in to charge. But the next time you need to purchase new alkaline batteries for a camera or handheld game, look for rechargeable ones—they’ll be a greener choice than single-use batteries.
Q. Where can I recycle my old cell phone?
Try your local electronics recycler. If not—Call2Recycle, mentioned above, recycles mobile phones!
Q. What do I do with my old laptop?
Laptops can definitely be recycled. If the computer is intact, contact your local electronics recycler or computer retail outlet (see if they’re running a program). If the screen is broken or there are fluids leaking from it, it’s considered a hazardous waste product. If the electronics recycling facility can’t take it, your local waste collector may have a recommendation. The most important thing to know is that you shouldn’t throw your laptop in the trash!
Q. I bought something new, and not only is the old one too big to throw away, I would feel bad sending it to the dump. It’s still in good shape!
A. We still call it ‘recycling’ when we donate items in good condition, because that item is being given a second life and not being dumped in the landfill. It may also help someone in need. Think about donating that old lamp, MP3 player or forgotten toys to a local non-profit or charity thrift store, and feel good about making that choice!
Q. What other surprising things can be recycled?
A. If you can’t find a drop-off point in your community, there are organizations popping up all over the place that will accept niche ‘what-do-I-do-with-this’ items if you are able to ship to them:
SHOES: The glue that holds shoes together can be toxic to the environment, so chucking shoes in the garbage is a bad idea. The national shoe charity Soles4Souls collects used and new shoes to help needy people in the community. Check out their website to see if they’re running any drives near you, or send them a package with your old shoes (make sure to follow the instructions on doing this properly).
TROPHIES: Did you know that you can recycle trophies? A company called Lamb Awards accepts old awards you no longer want cluttering up your room.
CRAYONS: Crayons—which contain petroleum and shouldn’t go in the landfill—can be sent to the Crayon Recycling Program where they melt down the wax into new crayons!
What is America Recycles Day?
Every year on November 15, America Recycles Day promotes and celebrates recycling in the US. The program, initiated in 1997 and now organized by Keep America Beautiful, is a nationally recognized day to educate people on the importance of recycling through thousands of events around the country.
It’s well worth taking the time to recycle. We recommend you set a personal goal this America Recycles Day and see how much you can recycle over the next year…and beyond!
Do you have any other recycling questions you’d like us to answer? Leave a comment below!
Sam Landa edits the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? blog and is Content Manager and social media manager at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environment & Sustainability, and in her spare time, she enjoys playing live music and writing. Connect with Sam on Google+ or LinkedIn.