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Question of the Week: How do you recycle?

2009 November 9

We put cans and bottle out for curbside recycling. We take electronics to a collection center. Kids collect newspapers to raise money for school projects. Share what you do. November 15 is America Recycles Day.

How do you recycle?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

42 Responses leave one →
  1. Jaime permalink
    November 9, 2009

    We have 4 bins bought from a container store section. They are divided into paper/ cardboard, glass, plastics, metals/ tins and naturally they’re dropped off at the local collection for recycling site innour township. It’s about an 8 mile round trip and this happens to be the most convenient way. At a previous address we just had to set out the tall red recycling containers, which were large in size and once full ere very heavy to move down the driveway. The gain was that they drove up and picked it all up. Advantage ? This at home method seems to be the only version we ( township ) have for now. It feels better knowing that we can participate in something that keeps the consumer in check.

  2. Susan permalink
    November 9, 2009

    Portland, OR has curbside recycling. We get a huge rolling bin where we can co-mingle newspaper, cardboard, plastic bottles, scrap paper, cans and metal. We also have curbside recycling for glass and motor oil, each in separate containers.

    Our regional government, Metro, also collects paint which it recycles into new paint. We painted our house with recycled paint last year and it looks fabulous!

    Our family also composts kitchen scraps and we try to precycle by avoiding unnecessary packaging and using reusable products like cloth grocery bags.

  3. Marty permalink
    November 9, 2009

    We have a recylcing program at work. Recycling containers are conveniently placed throughout the building and outside areas.
    The recycling is collected on a regular basis by the staff and taken to the recycling company. We have an account set up and all recycling payments goes on their books. They disburse a check to us upon request and the money is used for staff parties etc.

  4. Jon permalink
    November 9, 2009

    Yes!! My wife and I try to recycle as much as we can, but it’s tough, especially since we live in an apartment and can’t always recycle things…like we’d love to compost BUT there’s no space for that. But we recycle all of our paper; we toss the credit card envelopes with the plastic and recycle the rest. This is all curbside once a week. My building where I work doesn’t recycle, so I sometimes take the paper that we don’t use and bring it home to recycle…and the bottles/cans. Also, FREECYCLE in Yahoo! is a good way to ‘recycle’ the things that you don’t use and feel bad about throwing away. And even using Craigslist is a good way to recycle things that you don’t want anymore…by selling or giving away for free.

  5. INTWALI Jimmy permalink
    November 9, 2009

    recycling is not an easy thing,it is not just to collect plastics and think it is over,first we must think of the recycling industry and then proceed in recycling process.
    so lets try to make products that are environmental friendly and also think of recycling industries before focusing only on recycling itself

  6. Jimmy permalink
    November 9, 2009

    for countries who do not have recycling indusries,what ideas can you give them

  7. Jackenson Durand permalink
    November 9, 2009

    My current job duties are 90% recycling procedure.
    At home, I am mostly concentrating myself on a clean environment hygienic.
    When you own your property, it is always better to achieve certain project more efficiently.
    Encouraging, anyone around me to continue in the same recycle way.
    I dream to recycle in a large scale.

  8. KansasJack permalink
    November 9, 2009

    Unfortunatley our community does not have a mandatory recycling program. However, our collection company now offers a service in whcih we can put all of our recyclables in one container-trash in another. The result is our recycling container is always full at pickup time and our “trash” container is only about 1/4 full. So we recycle cCorrugated cardboard, chip board – cereal, soda, shoe boxes etc, Newspaper, magazines, junk mail and light colored paper, phone books, plastics #1-#7, steel cans, aluminum cans and foils and glass – clear, amber, green.

    We also compost for the garden and take any hazardous household materials to the local Household Hazardous Waste facility.

    Our community has the resources if a citizen wants to recycle but it is purely voluntary…

  9. ken permalink
    November 9, 2009

    We take used clothes and sell them to foreign countries and that
    which is not sellable we turn into rags and sell as cleaning rags and
    that which is not sold as cleaning rags goes to dump which opens
    up a new market that this product could be burnt for energy, what do you think. Ken

  10. Dr. Spaceman permalink
    November 9, 2009

    LOOK FOR MORE THINGS TO RECYCLE!!!

    Most things can be recycled in one way or another. Take a second look at your trash and see how it can be recycled.

    JUNK MAIL – Before recycling your junk mail with your papers, take a second to see if you can be taken off their mailing list. This will save paper and your time!!

    TINFOIL and FOIL COOKING TRAYS – Used tinfoil and disposable tin cooking trays can be mixed in with your aluminum can recyclables. After you unwrap those leftovers, toss that foil in the bin.

    PLASTIC BAGS – Plastic shopping bags, Ziploc bags and plastic newspaper delivery bags can all be recycled. Use one of your reusable shopping bags to collect all of this waste and utilize the Plastic Bag Recycling Bins located at most super market chains on your next visit.

    BATTERIES and LIGHTBULBS – All batteries (cell phone, laptop, regular AAA’s, AA’s, C’s, etc…) can be recycled along with old light bulbs (incandescent or CFL). Throwing away these things can risk dangerous heavy metals leaching into ground waters. IKEA and Best Buy are two popular main store chains that have special bins for these items.

    CLOTHES – Before tossing those used threads, look for another option. See if there is anyone looking for some hand-me-downs or if there are local clothes drives. Some organizations will come around door to door collecting clothes on a preset date. You can also check your local paper or local house of worship bulletins for other clothing drives.

  11. Jorge Gerônimo hipólito permalink
    November 9, 2009

    In my house separated: plastics, polystyrene, cans,
    glass, wood and paper, these are delivered every 15
    days the staff of a cooperative that provides the
    recycling. Other types of materials considered waste
    deliver every day to the staff of public sanitation. In time, with oil frying the mother of my wife makes homemade soap.

  12. becas permalink
    November 9, 2009

    I use differnt bins for, paper, organic and glass. So difficult after to bring to the public container for it because is so far, but it worth the effort.

  13. November 9, 2009

    Our community- Arlington, Virginia – just gave us full size recycling cans as big as the trash cans- yeah! We can co-mingle paper, cans and now plastics type 1 & 2. We pass clothes and other items around the neighborhood. I take plastic hangers back to the store- even if they were melted down for new items, I hate to see the embedded energy get wasted. I really wish the packaging industry would ease up- shrink wrap over plastic boxes even for for unbreakable items and clamshells that are impossible to open even after you purchase the items!

  14. Barbara permalink
    November 9, 2009

    I recycle paper, newspapers, cardboard, shredded paper and plastic bottles to a local company who hires the handicapped and other people who can’t get regular jobs. Abilities will take all of the above. I drop them off once a week when I drive to town. I live in a rural area. The recyclers we pay taxes to recycle, doesn’t recycle the things we used to put in, so I started taking all my stuff to Abilities Unlimited. I encourage everyone who will, to do the same thing. The people who work there earn a living and we know that they recycle it. They also take old computers, tv’s and other appliances. No more throwing them in the trash. They also have a store on the square that recycles our books, clothes, and other things we don’t want to throw away..

  15. Jim Adcock permalink
    November 9, 2009

    We’ve had curbside recycling for years but what I am really proud of is this last year I convinced our family to start recycling food waste as part of the “garden waste” recycling program. We bought a new Simple Human kitchen trash can which has two divisions under one lid, and we line one with a compostable liner from Biobag. Every day or two I carry out the biobag — which takes care of the “yuck factor” for my wife. Shocking how much global warming methane our food waste makes when we throw it in the garbage!

  16. amberlynne permalink
    November 9, 2009

    I am lucky in that my apartment complex has recycling bins in the basement for cans and paper goods. And thankfully my work Green Team now has drop off boxes for batteries!

  17. Karmen Beak permalink
    November 9, 2009

    Besides the usual cans, plastic , bottles, newspaper, I use a shreder and use the paper in my compost bin. I place all organic leftover and cover with grass clipping and the shredded paper to make my own soil. I have red worms in the bin to help in the composting and they are fabulous.

  18. Jeanne permalink
    November 9, 2009

    Unfortunately recycling isn’t manditory in our community – Hilton Head Island, SC – but our trash collection service offers recycling pickup for an additional fee. They take just almost everything although on occation they don’t take our cardboard and we wind up dropping that off at the recycling center. It’s too bad that recycling isn’t given a higher priority here and most people don’t opt for paying the extra fee to have recyclables picked up. I will say however, when I go to the recycling center it is quite busy. This is a resort community and the hotels and vacationers have no means of recycling which is a huge waste. The visitors to our island would love to be able to recycle but the town of Hilton Head can’t seem to move forward to make it happen. Seems like a no brainer to me but there is constant resistance from our local government.

  19. Sam Barnes permalink
    November 10, 2009

    All paper is taken to a collection site. Glass and plastic are deposited in a special container at the local collection site. Newspaper are saved and deposited in the container at the collection site. Aluminum cans are saved and traded at the collection site. Electronic items, computers are taken to the special collection area and placed in bins or containers. Paint is taken to the county collection site and placed in special bins.

  20. Kanai from India permalink
    November 10, 2009

    We pour out waste materials every morning when whistle blower from local municipality comes to collect the same in a handheld trolly.
    Really we do not enquire how they handle waste materials.
    We heard about waste management but don’t know if agency has taken initiative for proper disposal of waste material.

  21. pranav permalink
    November 10, 2009

    Recycling of any products such as can, clothes, batteries, often result in production of hazardous things which might cause health problems. so an alternate method of recycling way should be found out, so that human life and environment will remain undamaged for a lot of years…..

  22. Alan Gregory permalink
    November 10, 2009

    Yes, my wife and I recycle to the extent possible. We collect (using plastic bins provided by a local municipality) steel cans, plastic bottles, and glass containers. But when the bins are full we have to load them into our car and drive them (six miles one way) to a collection center. So, on the one hand we’re doing the right thing (recycling), while on the other, emitting air pollutants (like carbon dioxide) while driving a car to the recycling center. At least 500 other suburbanites do the same thing. And, believe it or not, here on the 10th of November folks are still outside with their lawn mowers, polluting the air with gases and noise, just to have the all-American lawn (and don’t get me started on the gazillions of dollars lawn owners spend annually to have chemical-based fertilizers dumped on their spreads).

  23. Druz permalink
    November 10, 2009

    I am fortunate to live in a county with a waste-to-energy plant, Pinellas County, Florida. In this county, we practice TRUE recycling…recover, recycle, and reuse. The plant takes our garbage (+3,000 tons per day) and generates enough electricity to supply the 100% power needs of 15,000 residences. The electrical sales from the plant add $1.5 million dollars per MONTH in revenue to the county. It has been operating since 1983 and is equipped with air emissions control which exceed EPA standards.

    The sad thing is, there are opponents to the plant who push “recycling”. We must remember that “Recycling ” means reusing the material we spend so much time recovering and sorting. A lot of what is being burned at the Pinellas plant is garbage which has been sorted by the citizen, collected by a separate carbon emitting recycled goods truck, sorted by material type (emitting more carbon), only to find there is no market for the good. That is, the good is not reused. Therefore, it is dumped into the incinerator where it is recycled…carbon to energy.

    My point…recycling is not recycling unless a marketable good is produced and reused.

    I think all the “recycling” proponents out there (and at EPA, FDEP) need to think about this! RECYCLING WITHOUT REUSE IS NOT RECYCLING (BY LAW).

  24. Betty permalink
    November 10, 2009

    We have no cubside recycling so we take plastic to a charity, newspapers to the local school or library. When we go into the city we take cans, glass and other plastic to the city recycle center. We take electronics, etc. to the e-cycling center open once a month. We donate clothes to charity. We shred the junk mail with out name on it and recycle the shreds with the newspapers. The food scraps go into the composte bin. Unfortunately, there are still some items that have to go in the trash. Maybe that will change in the future or it may go to a power plant to make electricity.

  25. sharon permalink
    November 10, 2009

    We, in Lakeview Terrace California, have an active community when it comes to recycling. We have large commercial bins delivered to us about twice a year to place things in, we have a local e-trash yard, we also recycle our horse poop for fertilizer, we have brown pick up cans for this, we have an active swap meet where neighbors recycle and trade. The closed Lopez Canyon Landfill is nearby and they are involved in many ways to recycle. They have programs and tours, and is working with our community. Our schools have programs, our neighborhood council distributes information, and we have accessible recycling sites around our community that makes it easy to drop off bottles, cans, and paper.

  26. Joseph Zummach permalink
    November 10, 2009

    In building my house I used mostly recycled materials, low embodied energy materials (no concrete which does not degrade or lend itself to recycling ), and natural building materials adobe, straw, rock from on site. Since the house is small 300 sq feet, and the solar electrical system is 12v, many of the components recycled from old cars and buses, I saved a great deal of $. Particularly on used recycled lumber, keeping an eye out for toxics in selecting my materials. With cardboard for insulation in the walls and ceiling, a free, abundant, non toxic material, and a relatively easy to work with. I also found a bunch of old tin roofing that I high graded for siding, and roofing. For the interior I found a white clay that works for finish coat when mixed with wheat paste. Although in the US one would bump into numerous building codes, a form of enforced consumption if you ask me. Other wise the concept for my house is one that could be adapted to third world economic conditions with some technical support and micro financing.

  27. Healthy Communities permalink
    November 11, 2009

    Our non-profit is partnering with the City Government to ban plastic bags. Public opinion is very good & a resolution will be introduced December 1, 2009. We currently have collections bins in different parts of the city & cooperation has been good.

  28. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    November 12, 2009

    We take our used household batteries about a block and a half away to the city library and recycle them there at the city’s collection center. We have also started a program for people who need to do insoline shots to collect and recycle the needles. There is also a motor oil collection program here. And used electronic equipment and things like printer cartredges can be taken to the computer store and turned in. Mission Viejo is one of the top seven communities in the country when it comes to recycling and residents making use of recycling programs. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  29. RecycleAllYear.com permalink
    November 13, 2009

    We take our paperboard, cardboard, plastics, glass and paper to our regional recycling center.

    It’s great to see so many others bringing all their recyclables to the same place knowing all that is there at the recycling center and NOT in a landfill!

  30. HCM permalink
    November 13, 2009

    It is really disappointing to me that the issue of plastic verses paper bags often continues based on emotion rather than facts in most communities. Before I would ever vote for a ban, I would ask to see a full life-cycle study of plastic vs paper to see the true energy uses in production, transportation, recovery, etc. The lighter product usually uses less energy and emits less to the atmosphere (in this case, plastic bags). Plastic often uses less water too. Sometimes “feel good” solutions like legislation and bans create larger problems

  31. Rick O'Connor permalink
    November 15, 2009

    Many vegetable and fruit cans today have curved bottoms not the rough seamed bottom of the older cans. If the bottom of the can is smooth, chances are it is aluminium and can be re-cycled accordingly…

  32. Satendra Mohan permalink
    November 16, 2009

    We also send plastic bottles for recycling. But before that we damage the plastic bottle to avaoid refilling of fake products.

  33. dr erdem permalink
    November 16, 2009

    we don’t use recycling method in my living city. I think it’s important problem.

  34. Maggie S. permalink
    November 16, 2009

    I am a university student and on campus last spring an exchange student was searching for a place to recycle her plastic soda bottle. I quickly glanced around and realized that there was not a recycling bin in sight. We began discussing the difficulties we face as students in finding ways to properly recycle. The university offers recycling bins in populated areas of campus, but in many of the off campus areas in which students live, recycling services are not provided.

    I lived in an apartment a few blocks from campus and did not receive recycling pick-up. My roommate and I would have to drive our recyclables to the recycling center if we wanted to recycle. I must admit that we did not recycle as much as we should have simply because it was incredibly inconvenient and time consuming. We had every intention of doing the right thing with our plastic bottles and aluminum cans — letting them pile up for weeks in paper bags in the corner of the kitchen — but when it came down to it, we would throw them in the dumpster 3/4 of the time.

    I was raised in a family that always recycled their paper, glass, and cans, so when I would throw the recyclables in the dumpster I would feel guilty. I wish that recycling would become an amenity that was offered everywhere. The infrastructure needs to be revamped so that recycling can become as convenient as throwing the trash out for all residential areas.

  35. Mary Ellen Morrow permalink
    November 17, 2009

    Our township recycling coordinator hosted an event that was successful on many levels and will be repeated and perhaps instituted as a permanent feature. A “Recycle Sap ‘n Shop” was held in October where folks brought usable items of all sorts to the “Environmental Center” and either donated or swapped them for other things. It was a day full of stories of individuals delighted to find things and groups sending them overseas to communities in need – such as in Africa and the Philippines. Helping the climate is a growing effort everywhere and for all ages.
    For a small donation, we gave them a large recycled-from-plastic shopping bag to fill up. The bag has the township logo the Energy Commission’s logos on the sides to remind people to “Reduce, Ruse and Recycle.” Reusing already produced items is the ultimate in recycling!

  36. Frank Moore permalink
    November 18, 2009

    The town we live in has recently begun a recycling program and has distributed tall trash containers to all homes. We recycle all cans, plastic, cardboard and paper trash in our home. We also try to bring home plastic containers and cups from take out restaurants to recycle. This has reduced our regular landfill trash by almost half.
    We also save batteries to be returned to the recycling center and compact fluorescent bulbs to be returned to Home Depot. We bring used clothing and household items to Goodwill and donate old bicycles to organizations that repair bicycles for the needy.
    There are a lot of uses for things we might have thrown away in the past and sometimes it just takes a little thought.

  37. kaden permalink
    November 22, 2009

    i take the cans we save down to the metal recycling center. thats all we can recycle because our communities recycling center was tooking away

  38. erica permalink
    December 8, 2009

    ugly

  39. STACY GUYNN permalink
    April 3, 2010

    We recycle cans & bottles and paper which is good . But what about our most precious resource, oil . I have the answer. I have been issued patent # 7,396,473 for an Onboard Engine Oil Recycler. It eliminates the interval oil change by keeping the oil as clean as the day it was poured into the engine.
    We have been recycling used engine oil for decades at land based reccycling plants. Now we can recycle it on the engine while it is running.It performs the same function as a land based recycling plant.

  40. Canman permalink
    July 21, 2010

    dispeling this myth — google region 4 EPA recycle – municipal toolkit tab — read the fact sheet on econmics of recycling in the SE — the facts bear out the recycling markets in the SE are strong and getting better each day (300 million lbs of new PET capacity is coming on line in AL and NC this summer). It does not make economic or environmental sense or benefit to burn many of recoverable commodities. The higher value (including energy) is to recycle the valuable commidities – the facts bear it out and it is time to stop pushing these myths that quite frankly show a biased agenda.

  41. cardiff electricians permalink
    December 12, 2011

    Good, helpful info,
    thanks
    Chris Davies

  42. Plastic card permalink
    January 23, 2013

    Simple to the point and easy to understand, your style of writing inspires me a lot….

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