When the ink runs dry… recycle it, baby!

If you have a computer (and let me guess… you have one, since you’re reading this!) you probably have a printer too … but what do you do when the ink runs dry?

Some of us will resort to trying to have cartridges refilled.  Some of us (me included!) will have little success.  So you are either stuck with this bothersome little ink cartridge or a behemoth of a useless toner cartridge.

Each year in the U.S. alone, 350 million of them wind up in the trash (that’s about 8 per second!), they’re buried in landfills and pollute the earth.  They’ll take about 1,000 years to decompose, but did you know that most can be recycled up to six times, yet only 30% are currently being recycled?

Did you also know you can be rewarded for recycling them?  I’ve actually used this as a way of funding the environmental programs at our daughter’s school.  Because budgets are tight, there just aren’t funds to support the programs.

So there are two great solutions that are likely to be sitting in your neighborhood awaiting your arrival.  I’m using “MaxPerks” at OfficeMax.  For every qualifying cartridge, I’m given a $3 credit for my next purchase. Just sign up for the card, drop off up to ten cartridges a week and voila… there’s my budget!  I’ve used it to purchase recycled paper and materials, for information to send home, and prizes for the kids’ participation in our environmental programs (including recycled pencils made from newspaper, recycled paper notebooks, and Terracycle pencil cases made from recycled drink pouches!).

A similar program is also being offered through the “Staples Rewards” program at Staples stores.  They’ll take up to three cartridges a day with the same type of $3 credit.

And if I haven’t mentioned it before, we have a program set up at school for the students to bring in the cartridges for recycling – so not only are we giving everyone an easy way to recycle and help the earth, but they’re helping to support our programs too!

So next time that empty cartridge is mocking you… don’t trash it, recycle it! Ahh… the life of a recycling/PTA mom… but the “Perks” and “Rewards” are abundant!