The Home 
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The Five Reasons Why I Recycle

My wife and I have been pretty big recyclers for quite some time now and occasionally people have asked me why I prefer to recycle so much. I’m not an adamant recycler, where I frown on those who don’t and make them feel bad (though I think those who don’t recycle out of laziness are selfish), but I think it’s one of the simplest things you can do to have a positive impact on the world and our civilization.

Here are the five biggest reasons why I recycle:

Smaller Bags of Garbage

The number one reason I recycle is because I think garbage is pretty disgusting. I don’t react with horror when I have to open up the trash can, tie up the bag, and bring it to the curb but I think everyone will agree that it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s not hard to imagine the revolting smells and the army of flies that make it their home in the summer time and so I do whatever I can do reduce the size of that bag. Recycling is remarkably clean – it’s bottles, cans, and paper. So rather than a really full bag reeking of rotting meat and refuse (we compost fruit and vegetable waste), we have a moderately full bag and a bin of recycle-able material.

It’s Not That Hard

The second reason I recycle is that it really isn’t that difficult. I have to hold onto a plastic bottle or hold onto a soda can for a few minutes longer until I can find a recycling bin or until I go home. When you consider the impact it can have, it’s a no brainer to do it. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t remember that it’s an option but hopefully that will change. For the few that genuinely don’t really care, there’s not much you can do to convince them because that’s simply their personality (and their prerogative).

Recycling Trumps Remaking Any Day

For the longest time people would argue that recycling doesn’t work. It’s expensive to recollect and reprocess and the energy used in that process is just as bad as making the material from scratch – a totally bogus myth that’s been dedunked many times over. While it does cost energy to process recycling, you can’t tell me it’s better to toss it in a landfill and mine for more raw materials! That just doesn’t make any logical sense! (here are some myths debunked)

Recycling Saves Me Money

Recycling saves me money because it costs my county less to have it hauled away (in fact, recycling earns money for the county). That means the cost of hauling trash is lowered (or at least it won’t rise as quickly) and that helps my wallet. We’re also lucky to live in an area that is very pro-environment – the county recently instituted single stream recycling (we put everything in one bin) and gave out free recycling bins to everyone.

Who Wants To Live Near This?

Landfill

Me neither, that’s why I recycle. :)

(Photo: dnorman)


 Government 
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Recycling Earns Money For Your County

Wheeled Recycling BinsIn Howard County, Maryland, the county has decided to give out over 71,000 recycling bins to the residents. The size of your home will dictate the size of the bin you’ll be receiving. Single family homes will receive a 65-gallon wheeled cart, townhomes with a garage will get a 35 gallon bin, and townhomes without a garage (like mine) will receive an 18 gallon bin.

Giving out these recycling bins has been proven, in earlier testing, to increase recycling when coupled with “one binning,” that’s my term for when you can mix all types of recycling in one bin. The official term appears to be “single-stream recycling” but “one binning” sounds so much better, don’t you think?

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 Personal Finance 
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Where to Recycle or Donate Electronics

Recycling: Cans, Bottles & PaperI’ve been cleaning out my closets and trying to get some Spring mid-Summer cleaning done and I’ve discovered a lot of old electronics equipment I no longer use. My wife jokes about how I have a computer graveyard in my closet (lots of old cases, motherboards, a stack of hard drives) and I’m moving towards recycling or donating as much of it as I can. The last thing I want to do, and the last thing anyone should do, is send electronics directly to the landfill.

Below I have listed some suggestions for places to go to recycle the items listed. In every case, I recommended doing a search on Google to find out if there are better local options than the ones I’ve listed. For example, in California you can call on YNot Recycle to come pick up electronic equipment including computers, monitors, and televisions absolutely free (Staples charges $10 and you have to bring it to them). A little searching can yield superior options than the ones I’ve listed. Look for local options because you’ll be surprised at what’s out there when you look.

Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries, in many areas, will pretty much take anything with a cord or a battery. Call your local Goodwill to see what they’ll take. Outside of Goodwill, or local options, here are some ideas based on electronic item.

CRT Monitors

Unfortunately, you can’t donate CRT monitors anymore because they no longer have much value given the popularity and relative inexpensiveness of LCD monitors. Your best bet is to find a place that will recycle it for free or find a local Staples and they’ll take them for a $10 fee on “large items.” They don’t specify what large means. While $10 seems like a lot, think of it as a small price to pay to reclaim some space in your house without harming the environment.

Computers

Your best option is to find a local recycling center or charity that will take your machine. If it’s a Pentium 4 or newer, a charity will likely be able to use it and take advantage of it. If it’s older, they probably won’t and you’ll have to turn to a recycling center near you. If there isn’t one nearby, you can always go to Staples and pay the $10.

Televisions

Like CRTs, donating and recycling televisions is still difficult. Barring manufacturer promotions, your best bet appears to be to bring it to Staples and pay the $10 fee. Some companies, like Best Buy, will take away old televisions for free when you order one with home installation.

Cell Phones

If you can’t sell the phone on eBay, consider donating it to a worthy cause. I recently donated an old Samsung to Cell Phones for Soldiers. They make it really easy to donate a cell phone, just print out a pre-paid shipping label (or pay for shipping), slap it on your package and drop it in the mail.

My opinion is that if you can’t get more than $50 for your cell phone, donate it. It takes too much time to list the item, track the auction, collect payment, and then ship the package. A $50 sale will be cut down to $40 after fees and the whole process could easily take a few hours – just donate it to a worthy cause. I chose Cell Phones for Soldiers but there are many other worthy causes like the Support Network for Battered Women.

If your cell phone is really old, like 5+ years, with little reusable value, I’d just toss it in a recycling kiosk at Best Buy.

Ink/Toner Cartridges

If it’s a HP, Lexmark or Dell ink cartridge, you can get a $3 coupon for future ink purchases if you bring it to a Staples retail store. Otherwise, you can just drop them off at kiosks at any local Staples or Best Buy for recycling.

Batteries

Batteries are extremely toxic and should always be recycled. For rechargeable batteries, check out Call2Recycle to find one of 30,000 drop off locations. For regular batteries, you can just drop them off at your local Staples or Best Buy.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

These aren’t really “electronics”, but I wanted to add them in because CFLs are becoming more popular and many people don’t realize they need to be disposed of correctly. CFLs have mercury inside and so you’ll want to bring burned out bulbs to Home Depot for recycling. They recently kicked off a nationwide initiative to recycle these bulbs, good move by them.

Photo by greenpomme)


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