An Alphabetical List of What to Recycle

Most Americans are amazed at the volume of trash that ends up in the dumpster or at the curb to be picked up by the trash collector. Many of the items that are commonly thrown away can and should be recycled to preserve our nation’s resources. Although many Americans save aluminum cans, there are many other things in any household that can be recycled and re-used. A recent study by the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems demonstrated that 84% of most household throw-aways could be recycled.

Aluminum cans are the most common item recycled. If you’re not sure which cans are aluminum and which are steel, use a magnet. If it sticks, the can is steel. Aluminum recycling is not limited to cans alone. All those aluminum baking pans, used aluminum foil, and any aluminum scrap can be saved and delivered to local recycle centers.

Batteries are something that most household use and these too can be recycled. Billions of batteries are tossed out each year. Save ALL types of batteries for recycling, including the tiny button size batteries used in watches, digital cameras, hearing aids and calculators. Recycle standard batteries – like those used in flashlights, battery operated toys, remote controls, and other appliances, too. Batteries left in landfills can leach toxic metals into ground water and if burned in commerical incinderators, the same toxins pollute our air.

Cardboard is another common item. Whether it’s corrugated packaging or the boxes that new items are packaged in, flatten and take the used cardboard to the nearest recycling center.

Clothing is something many people don’t consider as a recycleable item. Many people clean out their closets and dump the clothing. Instead of discarding old clothing or garments that the kids have outgrown, donate them to a local used clothes clothing, Goodwill, or a church organization that provides no-cost clothing to those who need it. Even small communities often have some collection or distribution point for used clothing. If not, call a few local churches and ask.

Contrary to popular belief, glass can be recycled. 10% of household garbage is made up of glass – discarded glass jars, broken glass, etc. When recycled, the broken glass – or cullet – is added to new molten glass. Glass be re-used many times. Some glass containers – milk for example – are washed, sterilized and refilled. Three basic types of glass exist: clear, green, and brown. Some recycle centers accept all types; others are more particular.

The United States leads the world in paper consumption but falls far behind in paper recyling. Instead of tossing those daily newspapers, junk mail, used papers, wrapping papers, and more, recycle. It can be more difficult to locate a paper recycle center but they do exist. If you want to halt the tide of junk mail at your door, contact the Direct Mail/Marketing Association and ask to be eliminated from mailing lists.

Oil – motor oils – is another item that should be recycled more often than it is. Used motor oil can contaminate water sources and also kill acquatic life in area creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes. Even some professional auto repair centers fail to recycle or dispose of oil in a proper fashion.

Plastics are something we all find in our outgoing trash. Milk jugs, detergent containers, shampoo bottles, and anything of plastic can be recycled into new plastics, conserving resources, time, and energy. Seperating out plastics for the recycle center can also reduce bulk in your curbside trash.

Tin cans – such as canned foods are packaged in – can also be recycled. Although the process to recycle tin has been ongoing for more than sixty years, more than 30 billion tin cans are dumped into landfills each year.

Tires are another item that must be disposed of in a proper fashion. Millions are discarded each year and end up in dumps that are often prone to major fires. Around the home, tires can hold water and be a breeding place for mosquitos which carry the often deadly West Nile disease. Many states require a fee paid when retailers install new tires so that the old tires will be disposed of in a right way. Shredded tires can be used to create energy, be added into asphalt for roadbeds, and used to keep down weeds in gardens. These are just a few of the after-recycle uses for tires.

Yard wastes like leaves, cut grass, and weeds can be used as mulch instead of arriving at the local landfill in a trash bag. Don’t burn your autumn leaves – place them on your vegetable garden or flower bed as mulch for next season.

Seperating the recycleable items from trash doesn’t have to be time consuming. Containers in the garage or back yard can hold the items until you make a weekly or monthly trip to the recycle center. Stackable plastic containers can be used to sort items.

If you don’t know where the nearest recycling facilities are located, check the local Yellow Pages. Contact city officials for information and ask your neighbors.

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