Reuse, recycle or…. just GIVE IT BACK!

hangrzHow often are you given something you want to give back or never even asked for? (Well, I can think of about a dozen things when I think back to my wedding gifts.  Of course, my thoughts then were something like “my god, WHAT were they thinking!” ) But now I’m thinking more about the things that come our way from purchases or services.

Think about wire hangers from the dry cleaner, packing peanuts from shipments we receive, plastic bags that always seem to slip by us when we aren’t paying attention and burned out CFLs.

Well, they don’t need to become needless trash. Consider this the next time one of these things slip your way:

  • Wire hangers – (hopefully you’re using an eco-friendly dry cleaner!… but) take them BACK to your dry cleaner the next time you make a drop-off.  Most will accept them and reuse them.
  • Packing peanuts – even if they didn’t come from a UPS shipment, they will accept them with a smile and reuse them too.  Check here to find a location.packn peanutz
  • Plastic bags – if I’m not vigilant and paying attention, a cashier always seems to manage to slip one in on me.  Save them at home and many stores have collection bins at their entrance if your curbside recycling does not accept them.  And don’t forget about all of those “other bags” too (like bread bags, plastic wrappers, etc.)
  • CFLs – so many people get hung up on the mercury content in CFLs, but keep in mind that most still contain only enough mercury to fit on the head of a pin and each new generation of CFLs has even less.  However, when they finally do burn out, remember to dispose of them properly at your local Home Depot through their CFL Recycling Program.  They’ll take them off your hands for proper disposal, free of charge.

Now, as for those hideous items I received for wedding gifts, well those were “given” too… in the way of donation. They do say “one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure!”

… and the flip-flops lived on…

flp flpsI’m a “flip-flop girl”… I LOOOOVE my flip-flops! And most of my friends know about my obsession too.  If it’s above 50 degrees… FLIP-FLOP TIME!!!

It’s needless to say, however, that the lifespan of a flip-flop can be somewhat limited.  They wear out, they break and, well, sometimes they just start looking pathetic.

Want to help those tired, poor flip-flops live on? (Clearly, I also enjoy “saying” flip-flop!…) but sincerely… there is a fabulous use for them after they outlive their original purpose.

From now until May 21, Terracycle has teamed up with Old Navy stores to collect those flip-flops.  Deposit them in the collection bins at any Old Navy location in the U.S. and Terracycle will be turning them into playground materials.

The playgrounds will be given to a few schools and organizations that participate in the Terracycle Brigades too.  My children’s school participates in the Drink Pouch Brigade so hey, who knows… my old flip-flops may just end up being a part of my kids’ playground!ONTC flip

We’re all preparing for summer (anxiously!) and pulling out everything that has been put away for far too long. If your seasonal wardrobe includes some flip-flops that have seen better days, make your way to an Old Navy store before they make their way to the trash…

… beloved flip-flops can live on!

The glass IS half full… but broken, it’s trash!

glass halfThe other day a friend of mine mentioned that she recently had a horrible bout with “fumble fingers”… while emptying her dishwasher, she managed to wipe-out four glasses from her countertop.

Knowing that I am Mom Goes Green, she commented:  “Well, at least I put them in the recycling can!”

Oh, beloved friend, I appreciate the gesture, but wrong! (… and I mean that with lotsa green love!)

In actuality, drinking glasses CANNOT be recycled.  The content is a bit different than glass jars, bottles, and containers. These glasses are, unfortunately, trash.

The same goes for windows, mirrors and glass cookware.  While other glass can be recycled indefinitely, these cannot.  Adding them in with your recycling risks ruining an entire batch of recycled glass and you certainly want to consider the danger created when your recyclables are being sorted… glass shards everywhere don’t make for a great work environment at your recycling facility and they can seriously damage equipment.glass brkn

Years ago I managed to completely destroy a door on the front of our entertainment center.  It shattered to small bits and I actually used the pieces to fill the bottom of some clear vases for floral arrangements. (See, some creative license to upcycle still exists!)

So, while I agree with the idea that we should go through life with a “glass half full” mentality, if fumble fingers strikes you too, don’t risk it.  Thank the glass for its service, but you’ll need to put it in the trash.

It takes only one stop to (r)e-cycle your e-waste!

ecycleWhile I’m on the topic of electronics, I must mention my trip to Best Buy this weekend and a fantastic service that I discovered.

I need to preface this with pointing out that electronics, unfortunately, create an amazing amount of e-waste when they have run their course of usefulness or get replaced.  Our TV has seen better days, and that was the reason for the trip.  Our “outgoing” TV is 17 years old and has reached the point where words on the TV were difficult to read and scrolling type is nearly impossible.

That TV will still be donated to a local charity that assists recovering addicts in setting up a home and, although it’s feasible for us tBB ecycleo replace it, I know someone in need of assistance will appreciate our donation when they have “nothing”.  On top of that, our donation keeps it from needlessly being tossed away… it DOES work, afterall.

Okay, back to my original story… Best BuyMy discovery? They have these new FANTASTIC kiosks just inside the entry to their stores that allow us to drop-off all of our e-waste for recycling, repair or repurposing.  I’m talking everything… cellphones & chargers, CDs & DVDs, game controllers and components, remotes, printer cartridges, power cords, and even ‘empty’ gift cards!  I… LOVE… IT!!!

These kiosks are available in EVERY store around the country, and there happen to be about 1100 of them!  Find your store here.

BB kiosk 2While I believe that an electronic or ‘gadget’ still in working condition should be donated, this is the best source I’ve seen so far for a central drop-off location when they’ve run their course.  Check out their site for more details and to learn about their program for the “big” electronics too.

In the meanwhile, sort through your house, fill a box of e-waste and know that you’ve FINALLY found a place for them!

The Post-Holiday Green Guide…

christmas storageNow that we’ve stopping scurrying around in preparation for the holidays, we’re all liking looking around and seeing plenty yet to be done in the wake of a hectic season.

The tree, the lights, the presents, the boxes, the bags and bows, the piles of Christmas cards!… WHAT to do now? Well, let me help…

Here is a very simple list of things you can do to curb the waste, make the most of the season and keep it green!:

  • The Christmas tree – if you had a live-cut Christmas tree, check out Earth911 to find a drop-off so it can be turned into mulch or composted (if your community doesn’t offer the service).  If you have a wooded area near your house, give it back to nature for a wonderful winter habitat for animals.  If your tree is artificial and you’ve considered a replacement, donate your old tree.  Many organizations and needy families would love them for next year.christmas tree artificial 3
  • Packaging and boxes – everything from gift packaging to the shipping boxes the gifts arrived in… either recycle them (if they aren’t usable again) or save them (along with the reusable packing materials) for when you need to ship something.  If you have more than you can handle, list and sell them through Box Cycle.
  • Gift bags, ribbons, bows and tissue – simply fold, flatten and/or store.  They can all likely be used again (and again!).
  • Lights – if you have strands that have permanently gone out, take advantage of clearance sales and stock up on new LEDs for next year’s energy-efficient decorating.  You can also check out HolidayLEDs.com… they’ll accept old incandescents and give you a 25% discount on a new LED purchase.
  • Clear it out! – make way for new gifts by cleaning out what is no longer needed and donate them to charity.  Clothes, toys, books, household items… everything is useful for someone, or an entire family, in need!
  • Christmas cards – ever heard of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children?  Well, they’d love to receive your Christmas cards!  This non-profit organization cares for abused, abandoned and/or neglected children.  They accept used greeting cards (including Christmas, birthday and even “Thank You” cards), the children remove the fronts and attacchristmas cardsh them to a recycled paper backing.  They turn them into new greeting cards… and then sell them!  Bundle them up and mail them to:

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

As you get your post-holiday life back in order there is some work to be done but, rest assured, there are plenty of wise, green choices that can be made as we bid the year farewell…

(Tree photo: Christmas Lights Etc.)