April 22, 1970, was the first Earth Day, and ever since, tree huggers have devoted the day to celebrating the glorious planet on which we live. Even the United Nations has gotten involved, designating the date as International Mother Earth Day in 2009. What better way to honor today than by recycling some hard-to-get-rid-of items?
For example, go to e-stewards.org to find the closest e-waste recycling facility, where you can safely dispose of electronic devices such as cell phones, TVs, computers, small appliances, refrigerators and more.
You also can donate your old phone with its related wires to a number of charities, which either distribute them to constituents in need or sell them to fund worthy programs. For instance, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.ncadv.org/takeaction/DonateaPhone.php) partners with Cellular Recycler (cellularrecycler.com) to recycle phones and other digital devices; NCADV uses money from the sale of the electronics to fund its programming. Remember to erase all the data before getting rid of that old iPhone!
According to National Geographic Green Living, mattresses, which typically last about 10 years, take up 28 cubic feet in a landfill and are 400 percent less compactible than regular household trash because they are designed to withstand compression. Is there a homeless shelter nearby that could use your old mattress? A family shelter? Will the store where you are buying your new mattress take the old one for recycling? The International Sleep Products Association has a list of facilities that dismantle used mattresses and recycle the reclaimed materials (sleepproducts.org/ispa-earth/recycling-facilities).
Is it time to rotate your tires right off your car? Many dealers will recycle your old ones when you buy new ones. You can also find tire-recycling facilities through the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/tires/live.htm).
Terracycle's main reason for being is to divert waste into different channels. The company has created "brigades" to collect all kinds of hard-to-recycle items (like diaper packaging, candy wrappers, hummus containers, jewelry, food pouches and writing instruments, to name a few). Check out the home page for the Brigades (www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades.html) and find out new ways to dispose of packaging and more.
Terracycle used to have a Cork Brigade for recycling the wine stoppers into bulletin boards, but that group has closed down. Luckily, Whole Foods still will take your corks -- if you can find them after the bottles are done. Find out more at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/small-steps-add-recycling-cork-reharvest.
If you have something you want to recycle that isn't on this list, Google it, so you can dispose of the item responsibly.
Do you regularly recycle an unusual item? Tell us what it is below in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.