You've started organizing clutter and have found a bunch of things you no longer need. Inevitably, there will be things that are beyond their useful life. Don't throw it out, recycle it! But now you ask yourself, "where can I recycle this?" There are so many more things that can be recycled beyond what they take at your curb!
As a professional organizer, the topic of recycling comes up all the time. My clients want to do the right thing and be responsible with their waste items so I have accumulated many recycling resources. Below is a "where to recycle list" for the odds and ends that are not taken at your curb each week. Please remember that anything that is still in working order can be useful to someone in need so donate whatever you can before recycling. For more on "where to donate", see my related post.
General Recycling Information -
Find a recycling location for just about anything, anywhere at Earth 911.
The city of Chicago has a very comprehensive web site covering recycling topics, but most useful is the "what to recycle where" page. Even if you don’t live in the city there are things to be learned from their site regarding options provided by various companies. Chicago Recycling Coalition - Home
For those of you who want to do recycling in DuPage County, try the DuPage Recycling Guide. (If you're looking to unload household hazardous waste, select the "Waste" page.) All others, check your local government site for information for your area.
Computer and Electronics Recycling and Donating -
As of January 1st, 2012, it is illegal to put electronic waste in the garbage in Illinois. This includes televisions, computer equipment, microwaves and DVD players. The Illinois EPA has a complete list of items as well as recycling options.
Below are options for recycling and reuse/refurbishing.
Best Buy Electronics Recycling and Trade In Program
Supply Chain Services Inc. (This organization is ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems certified and is located in Lombard, IL.)
SIMS Recycling (Located in West Chicago, IL.)
Cell Phones -
Many cell phone service providers accept phones at their stores for recycling or reuse. Local organizations have phone drives throughout the year. Some groups will reuse functioning phones or rebuild non-working ones, others recycle only. Watch your local paper for upcoming events.
Household Items -
CFLs and Fluorescent Light Bulbs - Did you know that compact (CFL) and tube fluorescent light bulbs are household hazardous waste and are not to be put in with the regular trash? They contain mercury, a heavy metal that can leach into the water supply if these bulbs go into landfill. Home Depot and most Ace Hardware Stores now take CFLs for proper disposal. There are special instructions for cleaning up a broken fluorescent bulb developed by the EPA.
CD recycling – It is not easy to recycle CDs due to their more complicated make up but these two links provide ideas of ways to reuse CDs as well as a location to send them to for recycling.
Office and art supplies, books, cell phones and ink jet cartridges can be recycled and donated through SCARCE, located in Glen Ellyn, IL. They donate useable items to under-served schools and developing nations and recycle the rest.
Athletic shoes are recycled by Reuse-A-Shoe. They make them into "Nike Grind", which is used to make outdoor athletic fields and playgrounds.
Corks - If you drink a lot of wine, you may want to collect up natural corks and recycle them at Yemm & Hart Cork Recycling. They turn them into cork floor tiles.
Foam packaging can be reused or recycled. Some mail box stores will take used "peanuts". Other foam packaging can be recycled. Check out Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers to find recyclers in your area.
Latex Paint recycling by Earth Paints
Everything Else -
If all else fails and you have something you think can be useful to someone else, put it up on Freecycle. There are local networks for all areas. All you have to do it post it and let people know how they can pick it up! The Freecycle Network(tm) - Recycling & give aways
If you have space to accommodate recycling items in your home, try designating a box of specialty recycling items and hold them for a quarterly or annual mass recycling event in your area. Keep an eye on local newspapers and web sites to find upcoming recycling events.
What will you start recycling now that you know where to take it?