In recent years recycling has become an integral part of our culture. For many household items it couldn’t be easier—just throw it in a big can marked “recycling” and off it goes every other week. We don’t even have to spend time dividing it up anymore as someone else does it for us. There are items, however, that can prove to be tricky. We’re both not sure if it’s recyclable, and if it is, where to take it to be recycled.
This can be especially true when it’s time to move. All of a sudden we’re faced with a multitude of items that we need to get rid of and we generally don’t have a lot of extra time to be doing research on whether it’s recyclable or how best to deal with it. In this scenario, things often end up in the landfill when they really don’t need to be there. Enter Earth911.com: a website I stumbled across a while back and I think it’s brilliant. Not only does it have a general section called the “Recycle Guide” indicating what items are recyclable—but it also has a “Recycle Search” tab that directs you to all the resources in your immediate area that will recycle the item you are in need of recycling. You just put in your zip code and the type of item and viola!—a whole host of resources pop up.
Below are some items that I know people often struggle with, especially under the pressure of a big move, plus some suggested resources from Earth911. You should check out the site yourself—www.Earth911.com—and see just how easy it can be to get rid of those tricky items that you just don’t know what to do with!
CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs):
CFLs might be great for saving on electricity bills, but they are known to contain small amounts of mercury and should not be disposed of in the trash. Earth911 lists a number of home improvement centers and drug stores that offer free recycling programs including Bartell Drugs, True Value, Home Depot and Lowe’s.
Carpeting is regularly towed to the dump, but did you know that carpet can actually be recycled and made into fiber or backing for new carpet or turned into plastic resin to be used in other products? Earth911 lists a number of construction recycling and environmental programs that will pick-up and recycle the used carpet for you.
In the US, 15-20 million mattresses are disposed of each year and yet approximately 90% of an average mattress can be recovered for recycling. St. Vincent de Paul is one of the only local charities listed on Earth911 as currently as accepting mattresses for recycling or reuse. Although the site lists county collection sites for recycling, after talking with them on the phone it appears that it is important to contact the specific county entities for recycling information. In King County, for example, there is a program called the Take it Back Network, which has designated sites that will actually recycle mattresses. Be sure to check with your county for specific programs near you.
Between 60% and 80% of the lead and plastic in a car battery can be recycled. Earth911 lists a number of auto parts stores that collect and recycle used car batteries. Some auto parts retailers also take a deposit on a new battery when it’s purchased, so you may even be entitled for a pay-out when you return it to that retailer for recycling!
There is a big difference between latex and oil-based paints. Oil-based paint is considered a household hazardous waste and must be disposed of accordingly at a county collection site. And although the consensus is that latex paint is recyclable, few recycling options are currently listed in the Seattle area. The best way to recycle latex paint is actually just to use up what’s left on smaller projects. But if you must get rid of it, latex paint can be mixed with kitty litter or paper scraps for quick drying. Once it’s dried it can be disposed of in the trash.