Recycling

Since the majority of us have access to curbside pickup, recycling has actually become pretty darn easy. Yet, we seem to be locked in a holding pattern, with 25 percent of the population chucking it all into landfill. Do we really need a carrot dangling from a stick in order to really step up to the plate? I guess that already wildly convenient websites like Freecycle, Craigslist and Givmo aren’t enough to stoke our primal eco-urges?

Alrighty then… it’s time to pull out the ridonkulously massive eco-guns. Without further ado, please take a few minutes to read through this whopping collection of recycling programs that accept a diverse range of consumer items, many of which even offer a nice little thank you ka-ching for your planetary thoughtfulness. 

COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHT BULBS (CFLs)

Those nifty, curlicue, eco-efficient bulbs that last between 25,000 to 50,000 hours are great in terms of saving us energy, but since they contain mercury, they definitely don’t belong in the trash once they’ve reached the end of their usable life. Instead, please responsibly recycle them at home supply retailers such as Ace/True Value Hardware, Home Depot, IKEA and Lowe’s.

CLOTHING

Angela Johnson: Send this crafty fashion designer a carefully selected collection of your hand-picked t-shirt faves and she’ll stitch them up into a wickedly cool couture dress of your choice.

Buffalo Exchange: With locations across the U.S., this wildly popular thrift store offers cold hard cash for your fashionable donations and anything they can’t sell is ultimately offered to other area charities.

Common Threads: Active wear manufacturer Patagonia has long embraced a sustainable attitude toward their business policies, so it’s hardly surprising that they’re now enabling fans of their Common Threads togs to recycle pieces that have seen better days.

Goodwill: Sure, you know them. With oodles of freestanding brick-and-mortar locations clear across the country, stop thinking that it’s too hard to bag all your unwanted clothes – just get in your car and drive them to the nearest donation center!

Oasis Originals: Now here’s a lovely way to make the most of a few key loved but weary duds – this company will transform them into a set of four reusable shopping bags.

Swap-O-Rama-Rama: Refresh your wardrobe without setting foot in a store (plus ensure that your no longer worn clothing is adopted by a loving new family or individual) by attending one or more of these fantastic nationwide events.

T-Shirt Quilt: This company will make a comfy, quirky duvet or quilt for your bed using all of those old t-shirts that you can’t bear to part with (you know… the ones that your mom keeps telling you you’re a little too “sophisticated” to wear anymore).

COSMETIC CONTAINERS

Back To M.A.C.: This purveyor of higher end, professional-grade cosmetics offers a generous full-sized lipstick freebie when you return six of their empty cosmetics containers to one of their counters or you mail them to their corporate office.

Kiel’s “Recycle and Be Rewarded”: Return Kiel’s-branded empties and you’ll receive freebies in return – it’s that simple!

Return To Origins: Of all the cosmetic recycling collection programs, this is by far the most ideal option since Origins encourages participants to bring in their empty packages and beautifying tools (no matter the manufacturer) for recycling and/or energy reclamation.

CONSUMER PACKAGING

Aveda’s “Recycle Caps” Program: You know those pesky hard polypropylene #5 plastic caps that crown a seemingly infinite number of consumer products, from liquid laundry detergent to condiments? Yes, you can actually recycle them at Aveda!

BoxCycle: While this company acknowledges that recycling boxes is better than throwing them out, their sole goal is to ensure that those who need boxes are connected to those who have boxes. Why buy new (which places an even greater burden on forests) when you can buy boxes that are already in circulation?

ReCORK: Wouldn’t it be cool to know that all of the bottles of wine you’ve sucked down in the last year could do a bit more than simply pair well with your seasonal fare? What if their sustainable cork closures could be turned into moldable shoe foot beds or flooring tiles… oh wait, they can!

Recycle Bank: This free rewards-based program gives participants up to $400 in yearly credits toward incredibly popular goods and services just for being a good green citizen!

Terracycle: Commonly land filled items such as Mylar squeeze pouches, diapers, keyboards, scotch tape dispensers, pens and one-time-use Wisp toothbrushes are now basking in the glory of reincarnation thanks to Terracycle’s highly popular recycling ‘brigade’ program – which does cough up cash the more materials you mail in!

UsedCardboardBoxes: On the off chance that you have at least 5,000 perfectly decent cardboard boxes or you work for a company that does, be sure to sell them to this organization because they’ll continually reuse them for their clients who need shipping containers and/or recycle them into new boxes.

ELECTRONICS

Have your various electronic doo dads lost their va-va-voom? You probably know that they’re intentionally manufactured to have a wistfully brief shelf life, but that doesn’t mean that they have to end up buried in the ground, especially since most of them are made with valuable metals that can and should be reclaimed. These are just a few of the many, many organizations that make recycling unwanted electronics a whole lot easier (plus the majority of them offer financial compensation for your effort): EcoATM recycling kiosks, MyBoneYard, BuyMyTronics, CellForCash, YouRenew, FlipSwap and Gazelle.

INK CARTRIDGES

The maddening thing about that cheap printer on your desk is that you’ve become a hostage to its insanely costly ink refills, and here’s the kicker – unless you hand-copy all of your Word documents with a fine black marker and a steady hand, you’re going to continue coughing up the big bucks for replacements. At least do Momma Nature a solid by recycling your empties via Cash4Cartridges, eCycle Group, AdvantageCartridge or TonerBuyer (you like free cash, don’t you?).

SHOES

Flip Flop Recycling: UniquEco – a Kenyan-based artisan – accepts donations of the perennially popular summertime sandals via Feelgoodz, Hansen’s Surf Shop and other U.S. based companies so they can be refashioned into housewares, toys and colorful pieces of art.

Reuse-A-Shoe: Instead of sending your beat-up sneakers to that big old landfill in the sky, participate in Nike’s collection program, instead. They’ll either donate gently used kicks to those in need or they’ll shred the whole she-bang so that it can be made into a number of diverse items such as new clothing, shoes and springy athletic floors for gyms, courts and tracks.

Soles4Souls: This inspiring charity will ship your donated footwear to global orphanages, homeless shelters and hospitals in economically depressed regions.

SPORT & EXERCISE EQUIPMENT

EcoAthlete: Has your water-lovin’ noggin been feeling slightly less than water-dynamic? You could DIY your way to a clever little craft project, or you could just mail your old latex swimming caps to EcoAthlete’s Seattle office so the material can be transformed into summery flip-flops… which sounds a squidge easier.

Play It Again Sports: What’s old and undesirable to you may be precisely what someone else has been looking for, so let ‘em have at it for a deep discount thanks to this nationwide sports equipment recycler.

Rebicycler: For those who own a bike that is so beat up that you’re actually embarrassed to pawn it off on someone else, there are countrywide bicycle retailers that will gladly pluck all useable parts off of your donation and send them to Resource Revival, an Oregon company that crafts inventive bicycle-themed housewares with them.

reBounces: Tennis freaks know that while their faithful dogs love and appreciate recycling the day glow balls, they have but one mouth to chew with. That’s why reBounces’ more comprehensive program makes so much sense!

RecycleYourMat: Once your yoga mat has met the end of its usable life, this company will chop up the material before converting it into new yoga-related gear and even liners for laptop bags.

Sterling Rope Company: Ship unwanted, unusable climbing rope directly to Sterling Rope Company’s main office (or visit a major climbing festival in person) and they’ll either convert good-condition ropes into dog accessories, bracelets and key chains or they’ll melt down hopelessly shredded donations so they can be spun into new rope.

Image via timtak

For more juicy green goodness, follow Elizah via Twitter @elizahleigh