Where do I recycle my….


Have you ever found yourself ready to toss an old household appliance or other random item into the trash but then found yourself wondering if doing so could be harmful to the environment?  Well, I have….many times!  But often this was because I just did not know where to bring these items so they could be recycled.  For example, who knew it would be so hard to find a new home for a retired mini-fridge?  Goodwill would not take it, as it is against their policy, and my town recycling center didn’t want it either.  Finally, I found a recycling station that would take it off my hands…for a fee.  While this did not make much sense to me at first, the woman on the other end of the phone explained to me that any remaining freon would have to be removed from the fridge and then the metal is crushed into scrap.  What about some of the other stuff we all want to get rid of in an eco-responsible way?   Here is a list of some of the more obscure items that we use up but do not want to throw away…

Photo by chrissatchwell.


Batteries should not be thrown into the trash because they contain chemicals that can leak out into the ground.  There are usually one or more battery collection stations in every town.  In my town, batteries can be disposed of at the local hardware store.  There are also a number of major retailers that have battery collection boxes set up through the Call2Recycle program, a free battery collection service.  Call2Recycle boxes can be found at most Best Buy, Home Depot and Radio Shack stores.  There is even a location finder on the Call2Recycle website that allows one to search for a battery recycling station by zip code (www.call2recycle.com).

Cell Phones

Like batteries, cell phones also contain harmful chemicals that can be released into the environment when thrown in the trash.  Fortunately, there are many programs available that collect used cell phones for charitable causes or for recycling.  Cell Phones for Soldiers (www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com) is one such program.  Also, there are bins set up at Whole Foods stores.  Another option is to return your old phone to your service provider, as most have a recycling program of their own.

Ink Cartridges

Empty ink cartridges can actually be refilled at many computer stores, for a fraction of what a new cartridge would cost.  If you are looking for a project, you can even purchase an ink refilling kit and do-it-yourself at home.  Staples also has a program where you can receive credits for dropping off used ink cartridges at their retail stores.  These credits can then be applied toward your future purchases.  According to the Staples website, this program has allowed them to recycle 22 million cartridges in 2008 alone.


When my daughter ripped the knee out on a pair of her black leggings, I placed the garment in my recycling bin and placed it out on the curb, thinking that surely, cotton cloth could be recycled, right?  At the end of the day when I was pulling my bin back into the garage, I saw that the leggings were still inside.  Thinking that they must have been overlooked, I placed them in the bin again the following week.  When I pulled my car out onto the street later that day, however, I realized that my recycling person (if that is the correct term) had sent me a clearer message this time – the leggings were now strewn upon my lawn.  Frustrated, I started doing a little research.

This recycling dilemma turned out to be a lot trickier than the others.  Apparently many cities and towns have developed their own textile recycling programs, but my community has not.  Textile banks, as they are called in the United Kingdom, are quite popular abroad and are often designed to provide recycled cloth to underdeveloped nations.  While certainly not as convenient as curbside recycling,  many town recycling and transfer stations will accept fabric scraps.

Light Bulbs

Used light bulbs (regular or CFL) can be packed into a cardboard box so they will not shatter and dropped off at your nearest Home Depot store.  You can also visit www.earth911.com and type in whatever it is you want to recycle, in this case “CFL lightbulbs,” along with your zip code, for a list of appropriate recycling centers.  Easy peasy.  I wonder what would happen if I typed in “black leggings?”

<div style=”margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;”><img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4047/4516175267_c262801f97.jpg” alt=”Meatless Mondays” width=”401″ height=”267″ />
<em><span style=”font-size: xx-small;”>Photo by <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/iampeas/4516175267/”>iampeas</a>.</span></em></div>
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  1. I recently bought a new cell phone and I was pleased to see a prepaid envelope to send my old cell phone to their recycling depot. As for batteries, I try to use rechargeables to be better on the environment. I didn’t realize that light bulbs had to be specially recycled though. The recycling item I have to figure out soon is an expired bbq propane tank. It’s just too bad that some of these places charge a fee. It seems like something that the government should be pitch in on.

  2. There are bins in malls here where people can drop their cellphone, battery and charger. I think they did not include ink cartridges because people often refill them with ink to save cost.

  3. Thank you for this list … I’m going to bookmark it because when the need arises, it seems I spend a lot of time trying to figure it out for my specific area.

    Great info!

  4. Every product we buy should have a notice about where to recycle – even if the company itself must take old products back – we should never be tossing appliances into the trash!

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