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How to recycle at home

Many of us would like to recycle, but don’t know how to get started.

First, check with the solid waste division of your local or county government offices.

Recycling collection or drop-off services are often provided by your city or county, and you can usually find them in the same department that handles trash.  Counties will often have a Solid Waste Authority.  Cities may have a stand-alone solid waste department, or it may be a sub-division of the public works department. 

Municipally provided recycling collection is often the best choice since you are usually paying for the service in your property taxes already. 

Check with private haulers in your area.

Even there are no municipally-provided recycling services available, it is likely that there is a private provider in your area.  Large national firms such as Waste Management and  Republic operate in most parts of the country.  Smaller regional companies also commonly offer recycling pickup…though service areas may be limited.  If you live in a rural area where population density is low, you may be stuck with locating a drop-off center.  Check your local yellow pages.

Check with local retailers.

Many retailers participate in programs to recycle the products they sell.  Best Buy provides electronics recycling for items like computers, televisions and cell phones, regardless of where they were purchased.  Sony has a program to take back all products it manufacturers at the end of their useful lives.  Many grocery stores and national chains such as Wal-Mart recycle shopping bags.  Clothing and shoes can be recycled through the Goodwill, Salvation Army, Volunteers of America and other charity groups.  The Drug Take-Back Network  provides information on prescription drug recycling, and many pharmacies and county health departments have these programs as well. 

It may take a bit of research on your part, but many of the items you currently put in the trash or pay to have hauled away can be recycled if you can only find a provider.

Start a home-composting program.

Much of the organic waste we send to the landfill can be composted at home.  All vegetable waste, breads, grains, fruits and even eggshells and coffee grounds can be composted (meat, bones and fat cannot).  Grass clippings and leaves are also good for composting or mulching. 

There are numerous ready-made compost bins on the market today, but you can also build one yourself using common lumber from the local hardware store.  The key is to make it easily accessible so that it’s convenient to use and structure it so that you can use a pitchfork to turn the compost without difficulty. 

Finished compost is high in nutrients and makes fantastic seed starter and topsoil supplement for vegetable and flower beds.  The US EPA has more information on their web site.  You may also check with your local recycling office or university extension service.

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Kick the tires and light the fires, problem ofcfiially solved!

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