Bottles, cans, newspapers – they are obvious recyclables that most people separate out into a blue bin. Recycling is one small thing we do for mankind on a daily basis, but there’s a good chance you aren’t recycling all you can.
If you want to up your recycling game look beyond the standard items and start separating out these lesser-known recyclables.
Your Old, Inoperable Vehicle
Do you have an old car sitting out in the yard taking up space? There are businesses like The Clunker Junker can take it off your hands. Even though the Northern parts of the country are notorious for more damage to cars, companies in the South would be more than happy to recycle cars for you. They pay cash for cars in Phoenix and other cities, then recycle all of the scrap metal or see off the parts. You get money and help repurpose a ton (literally) of stuff.
What happens to all those old worn out mattresses? Most of them end up in a landfill where they are fire hazards, which is a total waste. Some estimates show that up to 90% of a mattress can be recycled.
Some mattress sellers are beginning to offer recycling programs. When you buy a new mattress the company will pick up the old one during delivery and take it to a recycling center.
You probably haven’t used a CD player in about 10 years. There’s a good chance you no longer own a CD player, yet you’re holding on a CD collection. For some people, CDs are now a collectible like records. The majority of people just don’t know what to do with those old CDs.
Believe it or not, those CDs can be recycled and give new life. You can send them to The CD Recycling Center where they will be crushed into a powder. The powder is then melted down and used to create building and auto products.
While you’re cleaning out your entertainment system, set aside your VHS cassettes too. At this point, unless they were well-preserved they likely won’t play right, even if you can find a VCR.
If your VHS cassettes are in good condition consider donating them to a local library. All inoperable cassettes can be sent to a specialty recycler. The recycling center will take the components apart so that they can contribute to a variety of new products.
The rubber used to make tennis shoes is just as recyclable as other rubber-made products. No matter what condition the kicks are in a shoe recycling facility can break it down and make use of the materials.
Keys Cards and IDs
Ever wonder what happens to all those hotel keys once you check out? Once hotel key cards and ID cards have expired they can be chopped up and melted down. The PVC material can then be reused to make new IDs and key cards. Hopefully, hotels use recyclers like Earthwork System to repurposes the thousands of cards they go through each year.
You’ve heard about cork flooring, right? Cork can be used to make a number of products, and it’s easy to repurpose. The material is also biodegradable so you can use corks out in the yard. Now you don’t have to feel so bad about sipping on vino at dinner.
Environmentalists hate packing peanuts and other packing materials because most are abundant and non-biodegradable. While styrofoam packing peanuts aren’t recyclable in the traditional sense, some moving and mailing companies are more than happy to take them off your hands.
You can’t put a drink pouch (think Capri Sun) in the recycling but it can be repurposed. The pouches are typically made of aluminum and plastic polymer, which makes them very durable. Crafty fashionistas and companies like TerraCycle will clean the pouches up and use them to create purses, wallets and other small bags.
Today, even Yosemite Park has a zero landfill initiative. Every little thing counts toward hitting those goals. Even something as small as a key can make a difference. That’s why the foundation Keys for Hope was created. The organization collects old keys, sells them as scrap metal and then uses the money to help feed the hungry.