By now you should know the importance of recycling – unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past two decades! When almost 70% of what we consider trash can be recycled still ends up in landfills that are full to the brim and we’re running out of room, it makes you wonder just how far we’ve really come.
Because of their toxic nature, there are certain things you should never throw in the trash or a dumpster. Here is a list of items from Eco Village Green that you should read through to make sure you’re not tossing these items into our ecosystem:
CFL light bulbs: CFL bulbs do have some mercury and while it’s important to use them versus regular bulbs, when it comes to disposing of them, you should recycle. Home Depot has a CFL recycling program so you can just bring your old CFL bulbs to your local store. Since they last so long, you won’t have to do this very often.
Lithium-ion batteries: These are the rechargeable variety, not your traditional batteries. Chemicals from these batteries can leech into the soil and the water supply polluting the ecosystem. Best Buy collects and recycles them.
Electronics equipment: Poisonous substances overflow in these guys: TV’s, stereos, speakers, and mobile phones. Earth 911 can help you find out where they can be recycled. Your cell phone dealer will take back your mobile phone.
Car-related fluids: Anything that comes from a car is usually very toxic. You can recycle things like antifreeze, wiper fluid, and engine oil at your local government hazardous waste collection point.
Paints: Including varnishes, stains, and paints, all of these should go to your local government’s designated hazardous materials collection point. There are some things you should be aware of before you toss them to the curb. In most places it is against the law to put free-flowing liquids (such as paint) in the trash.
Aerosol cans: Sure, they’re metal. But since spray cans also contain propellants and chemicals, most municipal systems treat them as hazardous material.
Brightly dyed paper: Strong paper dyes bleed just like a red sock.
Ceramics and pottery: Including coffee mugs. You might be able to use these in the garden.
Diapers: It is unlikely they will reclaim the paper and plastic in disposable diapers.
Household glass: Window panes, mirrors, light bulbs and tableware are impractical to recycle. Bottles and jars are usually fine. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are recyclable, but contain a small amount of mercury and shouldn’t be treated as common household bulbs.
Juice boxes and other coated cardboard drink containers. Some products use recyclable containers and are specially marked. The rest cannot be reprocessed.
Medical waste: Syringes, tubing, scalpels and other biohazards.
Napkins and paper towels: Consider composting instead due to the absorption factor and what they may have accumulated.
Pizza boxes: As much as we want to recycle these, they simply hold too much grease.
Plastic bags and plastic wrap: Make sure neither of these make their way into the environment. You can always clean and reuse the bags or drop off the bags at your local grocery store – most recycle plastic bags.
Plastic-coated boxes, plastic food boxes, or plastic without recycling marks: Safely dispose of these.
Plastic screw-on tops: Smaller caps are choking hazards so dispose separately from recyclable plastic bottles.
Styrofoam: Check with your local community to see if there is a facility for this.
Tires: Disposing of tires falls requires a separate disposal site and most collect a fee at the point of sale just for that purpose.
Tyvek shipping envelopes: This type of envelope is used by overnight delivery companies and the post office.
Wet paper: Items that have been exposed to water will often get passed on by recyclers since there are contamination risks and the fibers may be damaged.
What belongs in your recycling bin gets chosen by your local municipal recycling system. More items may be restricted in your area than are on this list while other may have special programs for dealing with these types of materials. Written guidelines are usually available by your local municipal system. If you’re unsure how to recycle something your local municipality won’t take, you can look at Earth911 to see where you can take it.