Don’t forget — Earth Day is April 22! What are you going to get the world this year? Well, it really doesn’t need presents — it needs help. Though you try to recycle, so much stuff still ends up at the landfill. What more can one person do?
Recycling is not just putting milk jugs, cereal boxes and pasta sauce jars in the recycle bin by the curb. You’d be surprised at what you can recycle if you’re willing go the extra mile — it is for the Earth after all.
Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know you could recycle:
Do you still wear pantyhose and tights? If you do, you can recycle your battered hosiery through the No Nonsense brand. Those tights you wore only once before they sprouted a gigantic run are converted to construction materials. Your holey hose is reborn as a running track, park bench or playground equipment.
When your computer and other nifty devices die, don’t send them to a landfill. You know they’re not going to decompose. They’ll just sit for millennia. People from the future will find them and wonder why there’s such a big collection of old-fashioned doorstops in one place.
Many areas have electronic waste collection facilities that refurbish, recycle and resell. So when your roving eye starts checking out a next generation device, remember to recycle your old equipment — don’t just trash it.
Fur and hair, really? This one rates pretty high on the grossness scale. However, the not-for-profit charity Matter of Trust collects human and animal hair. What do they do with it exactly?
Through its Access Excess program, Matter of Trust donates clean hair to soak up oil spills. You heard that right. The group makes large oil-catching “sponges” from hair, fur and fleece to clear up contaminated water supplies. Contributions come from salons, pet groomers and individuals. Time to start saving Fluffy’s hair after every good brushing.
Terracycle, a New Jersey company, partners with many manufacturers to recycle packaging. Collect participating products and ship them off. It’s an eclectic group: Colgate, Capri Sun, Clif Bar, Entemann’s, Brita and Glad, to name a few. Those red Solo cups won’t have to fill up landfills anymore, either. And if you’re still a smoker (quit!), those butts can be turned into industrial products and compost — seriously.
Even with the popularity of e-cards, people still send greeting cards to mark holidays, birthdays, illness and death — yeah, greeting cards run the gamut of emotions. What do you do with them after you’re done absorbing the sentiment, though? Tossing them into the recycling bin is good, but here’s your chance to do good, too.
Volunteers at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children create new cards out of recycled ones. Proceeds support the group’s programs. You may think greeting cards are a little cheesy, but consider this: It’s charitable cheese.
Ah, nice makeup job. Very natural looking, but with flair. BTW, what can you do with all your empty makeup containers? It turns out Aveda, Estee Lauder’s Origins, Kiehl’s and MAC recycle their own containers. Most even offer a reward after you return several. Protect the environment and get free makeup? Score!
Don’t toss out those compact fluorescent light bulbs. They contain icky mercury that can contribute to land pollution. This metallic element is also poisonous — remember the Mad Hatter? Mercury poisoning.
Some retailers and local waste collection agencies allow consumers to recycle their old bulbs. Unite with these groups to protect a new generation of hatters from insanity.
Do you have corks from wine bottles just sitting around? Go check — some people just toss them into a drawer. Corks seem substantial, but they’re not on the municipal recycling list. They pile up quickly, too, since that Pinot Noir is just so tasty!
An organization — coincidentally named ReCORK — recycles corks to reduce the use of petroleum-based products. How about cork instead of plastic in your new pair of shoes? You’ll never know the difference.
You may not want those old athletic shoes anymore, but Nike does. The company collects your nasty old footwear at many of its locations. Running shoes are shredded to become new indoor and outdoor surfaces and zipper pulls. Yes, zipper pulls. Where did you think they come from? They don’t grow on trees, you know.
The MORE program accepts gently used running shoes and sells them to vendors. Apparently there’s a market for slightly sweaty sneakers. As disgusting as that sounds, MORE makes excellent use of the proceeds.
The nonprofit helps poor rural farming villages develop tree nurseries that will eventually yield usable and sellable products such as fruit, honey, lumber, hardwood and firewood. Running stores and local groups handle shoe collections.
Those itsy-bitsy twinkling strings of lights look beautiful lining porches or wrapped around trees. But, tragically, they seem to die young. Then you have to toss the mess into the garbage — or do you?
No! Home Depot stores, as well certain local organizations, gather them for recycling. Collections often run through late fall and winter. Add more cheer to the holidays by doing right by your lights.
See how much you can do for Mother Earth? She’s done a lot for you, giving you a place to live, free grass and all the oxygen you can breathe. Time to give back. Non-standard recycling is a nice way to say thanks.