Since I’m the queen of “nothing goes into the landfill,” and we try to live a zero waste life recycling is an important step in that journey so we’ve had some work cut out for us to figure out how to recycle most of our waste. You can say we had to learn recycling 101.  Besides everyday normal trash, we also end up with  old toys, household items, clothes, furniture, electrical devices, computers, bubble wrap, plastic bags, paper bags, old medication and medical needles. None of these things should ever go into a landfill, as they are too dangerous to do so.  200-woman-recycling-sign-laying-in-grass.imgcache.rev1332344448512
Going the extra length to recycle has a positive impact on the world and environment. Because waste has a huge negative impact on the natural environment, we all have to start recycling much more. When we throw rubbish into the trash, we risk releasing harmful chemicals into the landfill sites, which then will leak into our natural waters and environment, harming both animals and us. Recycling saves energy, as lots of it is used when making products from raw materials. Because recycling requires much less energy, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, a huge cause of climate change.
Ready to recycle those more challenging objects? Good. Here is how we recycle them:

  • Bubble wrap — Try reusing bubble wrap for moves or shipping things. Offer it on Craigslist or Freecycle. Try donating it to a shipping store. Here is a great website to find where to take your old bubble wrap: http://www.sealedairprotects.com/na/en/sustainability/recycle_bubble.aspx.
  • Plastic bags and plastic — I hate those pesky little plastic bags and almost never get one while out shopping. However, they do seem to find their way into my home anyway. The good news is that, these days, there are many places to recycle them: Whole Foods, Target, Ikea and Vons. Just call your local businesses and see if they have a bin for recycling plastic. Here is also a website with good resources: http://recycleyourplastics.org/Main/Plastic-bags-film.html. There is also a mail in option, so check that out, but make sure to use a recycled box for them.
  • Light bulbs — Check out this site for help: http://www.lamprecycle.org/Recyclers.php.recycle light bulbs
  • Cardboard paper — Clean and dry cardboard boxes not only are biodegradable, but also very recyclable, so it’s best to put cardboard in the recycling bin instead of leaving it as litter.
  • Clothes — Give away to friends and family or take to a Goodwill donating site.
  • Toys — Give away to friends, family or donate to a Goodwill donating site.
  • Computers and phones — Take to a local electronics recycling center or drop off at a Best Buy store.
  • Old medications — Old medications should never, NEVER be flushed down the toilet or thrown into the trash. They need to be properly disposed of, and this website can help you find where to take them http://www.disposemymeds.org, or call your local pharmacy to ask where there is a household hazardous waste (HHW) facility near you.
  • Old and used medical sharps — EPA has a great site with information about where to take them.
  • Wine corks — Whole Foods Market has a wine cork recycling program.
  • Electrical household items including TVs and DVDS — All these can be taken to a local electronic recycling center or to Best Buy, where they will recycle all electronics even if you did not buy the item(s)from them.
  • Batteries — You can drop them off at a household hazardous waste (HHW) facility or participate in the many mail-in or take-back programs that are available.
  • Old paint — Oil-based paints have to be taken to a household hazardous waste facility (HHW). Find your local establishment on the Internet. Latex paint is recyclable, so try selling or giving it away. Make sure to recycle all empty paint cans with metal lids.

I know recycling all these kinds of things might seem like tons of work, but believe me it’s important to do so to save our planet. At the end of all our work to find these places and take our things there, it was not that bad. It just required some organization.
Challenge yourself and see how much of your waste can be recycled. Happy recycling!

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Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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