I just came across a great Co-op America list called "21 Things You Didn't Know You Can Recycle." Of course, there were several things on the list I did know that you could recycle! But these were the highlights for me:
- Appliances (#1): Check out the Steel Recycling Institute, which has a database of 30,000 steel recycling locations. (As with most of the items on the list, if they're still in working condition please try donating, selling, or swapping them first!)
- CDs/DVDs/Game Disks (#4): A company called AuralTech can repair most them for you if they're scratched for just a few dollars; you can also mail them in to be recycled. Also check out GreenDisk, below, under "Technotrash."
- Eyeglasses (#10): The Lions Club has a major program to repair used eyeglasses and send them to people around the world who need glasses but can't afford them. You can get them your used glasses (plastic or metal) via a local Lions club, many chain stores (like Lenscrafters, For-Eyes, and Pearle), or possibly other places like your local library. Call 800-74-SIGHT if you're having trouble finding a location.
- Oil (#14): If you're one of the 50% of Americans who change their own motor oil, visit Earth 911 and use the search function to find one of the 12,000 places that will recycle the used motor oil.
- Earth 911 is actually a really good search tool to locate nearby recycling options for a wide variety of products, including paint, which didn't make it onto the Co-op America list but was news to me!
- Sports Equipment (#16): This is a "reuse" rather than recycle, and something you can also do through other means like Craigslist, Freecycle, garage sales, and trading with friends and relatives. But Co-op America points out the Play It Again Sports stores, with locations across the U.S. and Canada which buy and sell used kids' sports gear. You can sell, trade, or donate your kids' gear if it's in good condition.
- "Technotrash" (#17): For as little as $6.95 plus shipping, GreenDisk will handle all sorts of electronics-related waste you've got, from electronic media (CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, audio tapes) to batteries and chargers to MP3 players and digital cameras to computers and their accessories. Project KOPEG takes a similar but shorter list of items; you can mail yours to them, or if you can collect more than 30 items they'll cover shipping costs and pay you for the items as a fundraiser.
- Tennis Shoes (#18): Nike will recycle your unusable athletic shoes (of any brand)-- drop them off at any Nike store or one of the other drop-off locations, or mail them. The materials get recycled into sports playing surfaces like basketball courts. (If the shoes are still usable, then donate, sell, or swap them of course! Reusing beats recyling.)