Ah. Be still my heart.
So when we saw that our recent post, Recycle by Numbers was a hit with readers - we figured, why stop there? Let's keep this educational train running.
Today, we bring you a handy guide on how best to re-use and recycle some of the most common materials. From your car battery to that 90's TV and everything in between, we guarantee you'll think twice about how to get rid of that hot pink Razr phone.
Oh, stop. We know you have one.
Let the learning begin.
Americans discard about 2.7 million tons of aluminum each year. But - only half that amount is recycled.
And, there's no excuse. Across the U.S., over 10,000 locations buy back aluminum cans. Plus, who doesn't love some extra cash? 100% recyclable, cans return to the shelves as new within only 60 days after dropping them into the bin. Oh, and recycling just one saves enough energy to run your TV for three hours.
Now that's a lot of Netflix binging.
Aluminum foil is no exception. Last year, Americans discarded almost 500,000 tons of the material - all of which could've been recycled. Re-use it as much as possible (it's easily wiped down) and give it a good rinse before dropping it into your bin. Better yet? Splurge a little for the 100% recycled foil. This kind uses 5% less energy than traditional foil during the manufacturing process.
In the U.S. today, most glass bottles contain at least 27% recycled material. But, when it comes to recycling this sturdy substance, even the smallest remnants of food waste or dirt can contaminate the entire batch. Cue memories of mom nagging you to "rinse out the recyclables!" Yup, she was right... again.
Here's an interesting tidbit: brown glass, the most common color for beer bottles, is manufactured by adding nickel, sulfur and carbon to molten glass. Since this brown color can't be removed, recycled brown bottles = more brown bottles!
Pizza & a brew, anyone?! In the GreenBox, of course. ☺
So, feel free to toss your clear, green and amber glass into the recycling (rinsed clean!) - but mirrors, Pyrex and ceramics (such as dishware and ovenware) aren't accepted.
Car batteries are the most recycled product in America. That's right - in the U.S. alone, about 100 million batteries are replaced a year, and 99% of these are recycled. Cool, huh?
Each car battery is made up of about 60% lead and contains three pounds of plastic - most of which can be reclaimed to produce new batteries. Oh, and the sulfuric acid contained within the product can be neutralized, purified & released as clean water.
Bottom line? Many retailers (like AutoZone!) will take back batteries, but contact your local municipality to find out where to recycle yours. Easy as pie.
Each day, over 130,000 computers are dumped in landfills. But, guess what? Nearly 100% of your old computer can be re-used. Plastic, metal, glass... it's a recycling center's dream!
So, no need to chuck that dust-gathering laptop. Apple, Dell, HP and IBM are just a few of many manufacturers that offer trade-in options. Circuit City and Best Buy will also accept your "e-waste," and Staples even welcomes desktop printers, faxes and all-in-ones. Ta da!
Making the switch to a 75", HD, wall-mounted flat screen? Us too. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 18% of TVs discarded last year were recycled. That leaves 20 million televisions, each containing about 8 pounds of lead, polluting our landfills.
Check with your local municipality for drop-off centers, or find a retailer that offers a TV recycling program (LG and Sony do!). Or, if your TV is still in working condition, here's a list of non-profit organizations that would gladly take that clunker off your hands. They'll even scoop it up for free.
At this moment, over 1 billion gadgets are catching cobwebs in our junk drawers. And - only 10% of these will be recycled.
Trashed cell phones (hello, Blackberry) represent about 65,000 tons of electronic waste each year. For every 1 million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
Yeah, we said it. Gold.
Before you toss that iPhone 4 (we know, it's so yesterday), consider a program like Eco-cell. They'll even pay you for your old smartphone! AT&T and Verizon both offer trade-in programs, and our personal favorite - Cell Phones for Soldiers - will ensure that your working device gets into the best of hands.