From the category archives:

How To Recycle

crayons for recycling

CC Flickr photo of crayons courtesy of laffy4k.

Can you recycle crayons?

If you’ve got kids then you’re almost guaranteed to have a bunch of old crayon stubs in a whole variety of colors. From the moment your child was able to grasp a crayon in his or her hands along with all those free restaurant crayons which your child has flatly refused to leave behind on the dining table.

Well, rather than allowing them to fester in a drawer somewhere or be thrown in the trash, why not get the kids to turn them into some fun to make and environmentally friendly gifts.

Can Crayons be recycled?

Most definitely! Old crayon stubs can be turned into fun and exciting new shapes which your child can either use themselves or give away as presents. Not only does it mean you can spend some quality parent and child time, but you child can also have the satisfaction of seeing something which they themselves have created. And you’re giving them a valuable lesson in recycling along the way.

What are the possibilities for recycled crayons?

Recycling crayons is simple. All it takes is some old cups in which to melt the crayons, a spoon, microwave or oven and some soap or cake moulds. Cut the crayons into old pieces and place in the cups. Place in the microwave and heat until the crayons have melted. Then pour the liquid crayon into the moulds and allow to set. This doesn’t take long at all, just a matter of minutes which is great when working with impatient kids! Pop them out of the moulds and voila! You have brand new crayons.

These can be wrapped in pretty packaging and given to relatives and friends as great, homemade gifts.

Another option if you don’t want to do this is to send the crayon stubs off to The National Crayon Recycle Program. Here your old crayons will be turned into new ones, so ensuring nothing of the crayon is wasted. You can check out their contact details here – www.crazycrayons.com

But what about the resources used in the crayon recycling process?

The small amount of electricity used in order to melt the crayons is nothing compared to the cost of putting them into landfill. Plus you have the added bonus of knowing that every part of the crayon is being recycled, and that nothing is going to waste.

Other Crayon Recycling Resources

About.com Frugal Living has a great page about how to recycle crayons yourself as an arts and crafts project.

There’s also a 3 minute video on YouTube covering the same subject.

Recycling Revolution has the address where you can send crayons to be recycled.

Did we miss anything? Leave a comment and let us know, so we can continue to improve this page.

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denim

CC Flickr photo of denim courtesy of vvvracer.

Can you recycle denim?

Pretty much every one of us owns at least one pair of jeans. And if you are anything like the average American, it’s probably far more than one pair! The thing is, many of us have jeans that are perfectly serviceable, they just don’t fit any more. And it’s not only jeans; there’s plenty of other clothing made from denim, including jackets, skirts and waistcoats.

But even if you don’t want your denim anymore, there’s plenty of environmentally friendly ways to dispose of it, and it can nearly always be recycled.

Can denim be recycled?

Oh yes, most definitely. And the market for good quality, vintage denim jeans is massive. And if it’s got a designer label there’s no reason at all why you can’t make a few dollars along the way.

But even if your jeans aren’t made by Versace or they’ve seen better days, there are still many options for recycling denim. It’s such a sturdy material that it’s tough enough for many uses, not just wearing. So the next time you’re thinking of chucking some denim in the trash, why not consider some of these options.

What are the possibilities for recycled denim material?

If the jeans (or jacket, skirt or whatever) is still in a serviceable condition, consider either donating it or, if it’s got a desirable name tag, you can consider selling it. Remember, you may not want jeans with rips or tears across the knees but there’s a whole bunch of people who see this as the height of fashion!

If you want to sell, then try eBay or a car boot sale. If you want to donate then there are plenty of charity shops who will be more than happy to take serviceable clothes off your hands. Plus you get the added bonus of knowing that you are supporting a good cause.

If the jeans have seen better days then you can always turn them into a sexy pair of denim shorts. And you don’t have to worry about the edges fraying, as this is part of the appeal.

However, if the denim really has seen better days then you may be better off turning it into some other useful item. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to produce a clothes peg bag or even cutting it into squares and sewing them together to make a cover or blanket which could be used for animal bedding.

It’s also handy to keep old denim to use as patches for other jeans or denim clothes.

But what about the resources used in the recycling process of denim?

Apart from a bit of cotton and some time, none of the above ways of recycling use up any resources. That’s one of the great things about reusing and recycling, and the more we all become aware of it the better for the environment.

Other Reputable Resources About Denim Recycling

REUSE is a company that sells recycled denim products.

Jeanology is an awesome recycled denim store on Etsy that you should check out.

Ecouterre has a great article about 7 ways to recycle denim.

Cotton from Blue to Green was a 2010 denim recycling project that had a lot of success.

You can buy recycled denim insulation for your home!

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drywall recycling

CC Flickr photo of drywall in need of recycling by clutterbusters.

With the huge amount of new homes being built in the U.S. every year, it’s not surprising that landfill sites are filled with hundreds of thousands of tons of drywall. Not to mention houses which are renovated, refurbished or torn down. Around 40 billion square feet of drywall (or gypsum drywall, to give it its full name) is produced in the North America every single year, and because of the nature of house building, much of this is wasted. On average, every single day 40,000 tons of drywall is dumped in landfill, so it is an enormous problem. Many landfill sites have now banned drywall.

Can drywall be recycled?

In theory, yes. And very slowly, recycling facilities are springing up in the U.S. to be able to deal with this. Gypsum makes up around 90% of a piece of drywall, and in theory if this can be recovered then it can be recycled. However, there are many challenges involved in doing so, including the collection and separation of the materials.

Currently, the main problem is that it is cheaper to dump drywall in landfill than it is to recycle. But very gradually people’s attitude towards this is changing, and it is now possible to recycle drywall in many U.S. states.

To find out the possibilities of recycling drywall near where you live, visit www.earth911.com and enter your zip code.

What are the possibilities for the recycled drywall?

When drywall is recycled it can be used for a few different purposes, most obviously the manufacture of new drywall. It can also be used in the production of cement, as an additive for compost, to produce fertilizer and added to soil and crops for drainage use.

It has also been proposed that the recycled gypsum may be suitable for various construction products, animal bedding and even in the fabrication of flea powder.

But what about the resources used in the drywall recycling process?

Because around 90% of drywall can be recycled, it is definitely worth doing. But there are many issues which have to be addressed in doing so. These include human and environmental safety issues, along with the possibility of asbestos or lead paint contaminating the gypsum. Each state has its own regulatory requirements for the recycling of drywall. These issues are one of the reasons why it is still commonplace for drywall to be dumped in landfill.

Over recent years there has been a new concept of recycling drywall at construction sites. This has an added bonus of not burning up oil and diesel by transporting the drywall to a different place for recycling. In this case the gypsum is used in the soil or as plant nutrition.

Some people call it drywall, sheetrock, wallboard and gypsumboard, by the way. But it’s all typically the same stuff.

Drywall Recycling Resources

The DRS web site explains in detail about recycling drywall, and the benefits.

USA Gypsum recycles drywall, and you can learn more about how it works at their site.

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DVDs are a bit of a challenge to recycle. Not only are they made from polycarbonate plastic which is produced from crude oil, but places where you can recycle them are few and far between. DVD cases are a little easier to get rid of in an environmentally friendly way.

Can DVDs and DVD cases be recycled?

Let’s talk about the DVDs themselves first of all. The problem with these is that most recycling centers won’t accept them. Or if they do, they end up going in the big skip destined for landfill. However, due to everyone becoming more environmentally aware there are now some volunteer organisations being set up who will accept and recycle DVDs and CDs. One such one can be found at www.cdrecyclingcenter.com. If you decide to send your DVDs and CDs to them and are worried that they may contain confidential information it is advisable to shred them first.

There are other ways to recycle DVDs, the easiest and most efficient is to either donate or sell them on to others who may have a use for them.

DVD cases are a far easier problem to deal with. Not only do most recycling centers accept them, you may well find that other people can put them to good use. Some people want them for storage; others will use them for various art creations and other projects. You can advertise them on FreeCycle and will probably be inundated with offers to take them off your hands.

If you want to take them to a recycling center but are unsure of where to go, just visit www.earth911.com and type in your zip code for the nearest center to you.

What are the possibilities for the recycled DVD and DVD cases?

There are a huge number of ways that old, unusable DVDs can be put to use. Some people use them as reflectors, others in art projects or decorations. It’s common for a whole bunch of them to be threaded onto wire or string and used as a kind of scarecrow in the garden. You can probably think of a load more ideas if you put your mind to it.

You may find that local libraries and schools will be happy to take the DVD cases off your hands, along with any suitable and working DVDs.

But what about the resources used in the DVD recycling process?

If you pass your DVDs and cases onto other users, there are no other resources used in recycling. If DVDs go into the trash then they will end up in landfill, which is not what any of us should be aiming for. DVDs do not break down and will still remain in a few hundred years from now, and there’s also a danger that they can leech toxic substances into the surrounding soil as well.

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Egg cartons can be made from different substances such as plastic, Styrofoam or cardboard. Very often these just end up in the trash and from there they end up in landfill. But there are many ways that this can be prevented with a little creativity on your behalf.

Can egg cartons be recycled?

The problem with recycling egg cartons is that very often they become contaminated by food. However, cardboard ones can easily be recycled along with other various papers and cardboards. It should also be possible to recycle plastic egg cartons along with other plastics at your local recycling center. However, it is extremely likely that Styrofoam egg cartons will not be able to be recycled, so you should try to find other uses for them.

Because landfill is such a problem, all of us should try to think of ways in which we can re-use egg cartons, and there are multiple ways in which we can do this.

If you want to dispose of them at a recycling center and are unsure of the closest to where you live, visit www.earth911.com and enter your zip code.

What are the possibilities for recycling egg cartons?

Reusing egg cartons is the best possible option. There are a whole bunch of ways you can do this, and the following are some of the various uses you might like to use:

  • Storage for golf balls
  • Break up Styrofoam egg cartons and use as a packaging material. This is virtually identical to the Styrofoam packing peanuts or inserts which can be purchased from packaging companies
  • Egg cartons are the perfect tool for growing seeds until they are ready to be transplanted outside or to a larger container
  • Cardboard ones can be used as fire-lighters for starting bonfires
  • Styrofoam egg cartons can be washed and used as ice-cube trays
  • Use for various crafts; they are great for cutting up and using in many creative ways. Perfect for kids and adults alike. You could even consider donating them to your local school for the kids to use there.

But what about the resources used in the egg carton recycling process?

If you re-use your egg cartons then there are absolutely no resources used in this type of recycling. This is the best possible way of recycling, and should be something you should try to adhere to when recycling any materials. By turning waste into something other than trash, then everyone benefits, along with the environment.

Very often cardboard egg cartons are made from recycled paper, so look for any signs which tell you so and try to buy these ones if at all possible. It is always preferable to use recycled products rather than new ones.

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Recycle Bank is a bit like the airmiles program, but for your trash instead of flying. The program gives you the chance to turn your recyclable items into rewards. These rewards can then be used to get discounts and merchandise at local stores and shops.

The scheme has been set up by a group of people who are passionate about helping to preserve the planet and its resources. The idea is that any recycling, however big or small will have a positive impact. And the more people who take part, the more the scheme will grow.

Whenever you recycle, Recycle Bank provides you with a reward. This might be in the form of a coupon, discounts or products at some of the most famous names on the high street. For example, Footlocker and Dunkin Donuts are both members of the Recycle Bank scheme.

How does Recycle Bank work?

It may well surprise you as to exactly how much of your trash can be recycled. From the obvious, such as plastic bottles and tin cans, right through to electronics and clothing. And each time you dispose of various pieces of trash in a responsible way by recycling, you collect points and codes and then attach these to your Recycle Bank account to be turned into rewards.

Once you sign up to the Recycle Bank scheme at the website www.recyclebank.com you can then begin to earn rewards. And you can even earn rewards for other ‘green’ actions, such as saving energy in the home.

When you have accrued some points you can begin to order your rewards. Simply browse the site and choose from the many partners who offer rewards and bonuses. Click through to the one you would like. You will receive your reward either as an email to print at home, or through the post. Then take the voucher to the retailer and exchange for your goodies!

The rewards change constantly, so if there isn’t a retailer or reward you fancy, just keep an eye on the website for when the rewards change. Then you can use your points for something you really want.

Who is a member of Recycle Bank?

The Recycle Bank scheme is growing on a daily basis. It now covers the whole of the USA and the UK as well. Many major retailers are involved, including Kmart, Sunglasses Hut, Coca-Cola, Yoplait and Cosmopolitan Magazine to name but a few.

You can also earn recycle points by getting friends, colleagues and neighbors to sign up as well. Just invite a person to join Recycle Bank via email, and for everyone who signs up from your recommendation, 10 Recycle Bank points will be added to your account.

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E-waste is the general term used for broken, obsolete or surplus parts of electrical equipment. It’s also known as electronic waste. Because of the various toxic substances contained in many electronic items, over recent years it has become an enormous problem throughout the world. Here in the U.S., because of strict legislation which is now being brought in nationwide, the disposal of e-waste is reasonably under control. But in some other countries, such as those in the third world, there are major problems with contamination from substances such as lead and cadmium.

Can E-waste be recycled?

The recycling of electronic waste products is often referred to as e-cycling. Because of the cost and risks involved in breaking down e-waste to its component parts, it is best to see if there is another option available. This can include re-use, repair or refurbishing. However, if none of these are feasible, then recycling is the next best option.

Because e-waste contains many precious natural resources, it is definitely worth recycling them. Precious metals and engineered plastics are the main components and re-using them is preferable to using up more virgin resources or the cost of fabricating them.

All towns and cities offer recycling facilities for electronics. If you are unsure of the closest to where you live, visit www.earth911.com and enter your zip code.

What are the possibilities for recycling e-waste material?

If your e-waste is recycled, there are many things which it may be used for. Precious metals such as gold can be recovered, and used for a multitude of options. If you want to see what the current values of your gold and silver are, you can check prices online. Recycled plastics also have many uses. Often broken or obsolete e-waste can be used to produce new electronics, or to repair or refurbish other products.

But what about the resources used in the e-waste recycling process?

The biggest problem with e-waste is the hazard it poses to human health and to the environment. Dumping e-waste in landfill not only takes up room, but hazardous waste can leech into the surrounding soil resulting in contamination.

Even though it uses up resources to recycle e-waste, it is still worth doing because of the huge amount of valuable natural resources involved. Currently the U.S. produces over 50 million tons of e-waste every year, the most in the world, but only around 15-20% of this is recycled. The rest of it goes into landfill. The amount of e-waste is only set to rise over the coming years as the speed of technology advances, so it’s imperative that recycling, reusing and repairing is brought into action as much as possible. Because of this there are many government initiatives to raise awareness, and it is up to each and every one of us to be responsible in the way that we dispose of our e-waste.

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Recycling fabric is also known as textile recycling. All of the fabric we use, whether it is clothing, bed linen, curtains or anything else made from fabric, make up a huge amount of waste per year. There are different ways in which fabric can be reused, but although many options are available, a large amount still unnecessarily ends up in landfill.

Can fabric be recycled?

There are a multitude of ways in which to recycle fabric. And this includes all types, such as nylon, wool, fleece, flannel, cotton – all the products which make up items we use every day. The most important thing about recycling textiles is to keep them dry. Once they become damp, mildew soon sets in and then they are unsuitable to be reused. For this reason, always be sure to bag up your fabrics to keep them in the best condition possible.

What are the possibilities for the recycled fabric material?

The very best way to recycle fabric is to pass it onto someone else to use. This way no extra resources are used to turn it into something else, and it means someone else gets to use it. In fact, the uncertain economic climate has made more and more people realize the advantage of purchasing second hand clothes, and the demand has risen tenfold.

Charities accept all kinds of fabrics for donation. From trousers to pillowcases, they can all be put to good use. They may end up being distributed in the U.S. or are sometimes shipped off to other areas in the world; perhaps where a disaster has struck and things are in short supply. There are many drop off points in all the towns and cities of the U.S. where you can take your unwanted fabrics. If you are unsure of your nearest center, visit www.earth911.com and type in your zip code to find the closest one to you.

You might consider selling off your unwanted clothes. As long as they are in reasonable condition with no rips or stains then they have a resale value. Consider selling them via an online auction site or at a car boot sale. The dollars made are sure to come in handy as well. If your clothes have a designer label then you might be pleasantly surprised at the money they fetch.

Once fabrics become too badly worn or damaged, then it can be recycled. The components can then be reused by the textile industry. They might become cleaning cloths or stuffing for furniture. Some are processed down into fibers for use in upholstery or insulation.

But what about the resources used in the fabric recycling process?

Donating or selling your unwanted fabrics uses up no other resources, and this is the best way in which to get rid of them. But even if your fabrics have seen better days, they are still made from valuable resources, so take care not to just throw them in the trash.

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The new energy saving fluorescent bulbs are definitely more environmentally friendly, but are you aware that they contain hazardous waste? Under the Resource Convention and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Universal Waste Rule (UWR), they contain category C hazardous waste which needs to be disposed of in a responsible and specialized manner. The bulbs contain mercury, which means they should not be tossed into the trash. You should find out how to recycle or dispose of them in your area.

Can fluorescent bulbs be recycled?

Pretty much every part of a florescent bulb can be recycled. In doing so, the glass, metals and various other materials which make up the bulb can be reused in one way or another. Although florescent bulbs contain mercury, there is no danger of any toxicity when the bulb is in one piece. However, when a bulb breaks, it can release small amounts of mercury into the atmosphere.

If a CFL bulb is thrown into the trash, dumpster or ends up in landfill, then it will more than likely break. Because of this, some states now require you to recycle florescent bulbs by law.

Virtually all towns and cities have recycling and waste centers. If you are unsure of the closest to where you live visit www.earth911.com and enter your zip code. Here you will also be able to find out if there are any curbside collections close to you that may be able to collect your florescent bulbs.

Many of the larger chain retailers also provide a collection point for CFL florescent bulbs. These include IKEA, Orchard Supply and Home Depot. However, it’s best to check directly with your local store to check before you make a special trip.

What are the possibilities for recycling fluorescent bulbs?

When florescent bulbs are recycled all the parts are separated. The metal components go for scrap metal, the glass can be turned into various other glass products and the mercury very often ends up in new florescent bulbs or other device which contain the substance.

But what about the resources used in the recycling process?

Because of the hazardous waste, the cost of recycling is a necessary evil. But the good thing is that virtually no part of a florescent bulb goes to waste, so the energy used in recycling is all put to use.

Thankfully, now that there are far more places to recycle it is not necessary to make a car journey to get rid of a single bulb! And the fact that the bulbs last for a long period of time means that less bulbs than the pre-florescent days are around to be recycled. You should also be very careful if a bulb gets smashed as this allows the mercury to escape. In this case you should ensure you wear gloves for the clean-up, place the debris in a sealed bag and dispose of at a recycling center.

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Glass is used for a huge variety of items. From perfume bottles through to window panes, it’s so common that we don’t even give it a second thought. In 2009, the U.S. public generated 11.8 million tons of waste glass, and only around 25% of this was recycled.

Can glass be recycled?

A great amount of glass can be recycled. Pretty much all glass which is used as packaging can be recycled. This includes soda bottles, jelly jars and most food and drink containers. These food and beverage containers can be recycled many times over, and there is really no need at all for these to end up in landfill

All towns and cities offer recycling facilities for glass. If you are unsure of the closest to where you live, visit www.earth911.com and enter your zip code.

What are the possibilities for the recycled glass?

Most food and drink containers are recycled and once again turned into more containers. But it is possible for glass to be put to other use, such as wall and cavity insulation, kitchen tiles and even counter tops.

Glass is possibly one of the easiest items to recycle as many schemes have been put in place. Over the past 30 years, glass recycling in the U.S. has risen from 750,000 tons per year to over 3 million tons. And the amount is growing.

Recycled and crushed glass is known as ‘cullet.’ Most glass manufacturers now rely on cullet to supplement the virgin materials they use to produce new glass. Because of this the demand for recycled glass just keeps growing and the supply of cullet is less than the demand.

Cullet can also be used in the production of fiberglass, abrasives and the tips of matches. However, the cullet has to be free from any contaminates which will make it less useful in many areas of manufacturing.

But what about the resources used in the recycling process?

The main problem with recycling glass is the different qualities which are used. When glass is collected at the curbside or in recycling centers, it is usually collected altogether. However, it’s important to sort your glass into different colors as these all have different melting points. Glass which is sorted by color makes cullet of a higher standard, and therefore has a higher value. This is why on glass recycling banks you have separate areas for clear, green and brown glass.

Using cullet helps the environment by melting at a lower temperature than the raw materials needed to make glass. This means less greenhouse gas emissions and it also saves the necessity of using raw materials. It is also cheaper to recycle than to produce new glass.

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