(Published on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, in The Daily Citizen, Dalton, GA.)
Recycle & Reuse: 9 Strange Items to Recycle or Reuse
Recycling at home normally includes materials like paper, plastic, and aluminum cans. And, reusing mostly involves donating clothing instead of throwing it away. But, sometimes recycling and reusing can go the route of the strange. Just beyond the common cardboard box and soup can there are many other products that can be recycled or reused too. Here are some of the stranger items you can start recycling and reusing with just a little extra effort.
• LEGOs: These plastic building blocks of castles, trucks, and amazing works of art are sadly not recyclable. LEGOs announced that they plan to have a more sustainable eco-friendly version of the product developed by 2030. In the meantime, Lego bricks can be reused. Brick Recycler (www.brickrecycler.com) is collecting used and incomplete lego sets by mail from donors. After they’re sorted and repackaged the Lego bricks are donated to children in need.
• Greeting Cards: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children accepts used greeting cards by mail and creates new holiday and all-occasion greeting cards. Recycled cards are sold to support their programs and services for abused, neglected and homeless children, young adults and families. For more details visit www.stjudesranch.org, click on ‘About Us’, then ‘Recycled Card Program’. Please note that Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards are not accepted, and cards that are five by seven inches or smaller are preferred.
• Crayons: The broken, stubby, worn out crayons that your child no longer wants to color with can be recycled, even with the paper wrapper still on them. Mail your collection to the nice people at Crazy Crayons (www.crazycrayons.com) where they’re sorted by color then melted down into uniquely shaped new crayons. The paper wrappers are transformed into fire starters, ideal for camping or fire pits. The new crayon products are even available for purchase on their site.
• Women’s Bras: This lingerie item may be taken for granted by some women but for those in a transitional program or shelter, a bra can be an expensive necessity. The Bra Recyclers at www.brarecycling.com offer the opportunity for women in the US to mail in their gently used bras so they can be ‘recycled’ and sent to women in need. Be sure to wash the bra and fill out the printable tag form online before mailing.
• Athletic Shoes: Have an old, used up sneakers hiding in the closet? Drop them off at the Nike Factory Store in Calhoun where you’ll find Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe bin. Athletic shoes are recycled into sports surfaces like running tracks and outdoor basketball courts. Almost the entire shoe is ground up and separated into three categories: midsole foam, outsole rubber, and upper fabric. The final version of the sports surface product is called Nike Grind. According to www.nikegrind.com it takes 2,500 pairs to make an outdoor basketball court that utilizes the midsole foam.
• Brita Water Filters: Recycle your used Brita brand filters by shaking off excess water and setting aside so it can dry thoroughly. Wrap the filter in a plastic shopping bag, which will also be recycled, and then mail it in to Preserve Gimme 5. Visit www.brita.com and click on ‘Using Your Brita’ to find the Recycle Your Filter page. Filters will be recycled into products designed by Gimme 5 like toothbrushes, cups, and cutting boards.
• Pantyhose: No nonsense is proud to offer their pantyhose recycling program. Mail in your old, worn, torn pantyhose, no matter what brand they are, and No nonsense will use them to make park benches, playground equipment, and event toys. Visit www.nononsense.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Pantyhose Recycling on the bottom right for instructions.
• Wine Corks: If you purchase glass bottles of wine you should know that the glass bottle is collected for recycling locally. However, the wine corks are not separated at this time for recycling. If you do want to recycle your natural cork stoppers instead of making yet another coaster or memo board with them you can mail them in to ReCORK (www.recork.org). Visit their website for instructions on where to mail your stash. Please note that ReCORK has a minimum of 15 pounds which may require you to get some friends involved in collecting corks too.
• Wedding Dress: Brides Across America accepts donations of wedding dresses that are less than five year old to benefit military brides. Deployments, financial hardship and other challenges unique to servicemen and woman can make it difficult to plan a wedding. Donating a dress can make a dream come true for a deserving military family. Visit www.bridesacrossamerica.com then go to ‘Give a Dress’ to fill out the form with initial information about the gown you have available to donate. If the gown is accepted they will send specific shipping instructions.
Liz Swafford is the Recycling and Education Program Coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have questions about recycling in Whitfield County? Call 706-278-5001, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.