It’s straightforward. Aluminum soda cans are recycled into new soda cans or other aluminum products. Used newspapers are recycled into new restaurant napkins and other types of paper things. Empty clear glass baby food jars are turned into new hot sauce bottles. Recycling is the process of remanufacturing used items into new products we can use again, saving loads of natural resources in the process.
In our community, we can recycle traditional things, like cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and jugs, and aluminum cans. It’s typical, common, the norm. But, a look just beyond the local recycling program brings into view recyclables that are just preposterous. “Surely, you can’t recycle that!” you may be thinking. Here are six products that are in fact recyclable thanks to several nationwide programs. The products may be non-traditional, but the recycling resulting in new products is not preposterous at all.
• 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 to ReCORK or drop them off at participating retail stores or restaurants in the Atlanta area.
Visit their website, www.recork.org, for instructions on mailing 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. Wine corks are recycled into yoga blocks that help you get a deeper stretch while working out. Other products are in the pipeline too, like a traction pad for surfboards.
• Brita Water Filters: Keeping filtered water in a convenient pitcher requires replacing the filter every few months. Those filters, made with a plastic outer-shell, can be recycled thanks to Brita’s mail-in program. Visit www.brita.com and choose ‘Recycling Filters’ in the ‘Support’ menu to learn about the program. Prepare your used water filter for recycling by letting it dry out for three days. Line a cardboard box with a plastic bag and collect at least 5 pounds of filters. Print the shipping label and your filters will be well on their way to becoming new products like lawn chairs and watering cans for the garden.
• Blue Jeans: Sure, you can donate old blue jeans to a thrift store for resale. But, what if your jeans are really worn out and have holes in all the wrong places? Mail them into Blue Jeans Go Green who recycles blue jeans, blue jean jackets, and other denim clothing into insulation for homes. It takes 500 to 1,000 jeans to make enough insulation for an average sized home so they’re always accepting denim. Visit www.bluejeansgogreen.org for instructions on mailing in your old favorite jeans, or to find a participating Madewell store with a drop-off site in the Atlanta area.
• Oral Care Products: The paperboard box that holds your favorite tube of toothpaste can be recycled with mixed paper. But, did you know you could recycle your old toothbrush, floss container, and empty toothpaste tube too? Colgate and TerraCycle have teamed up to create the Oral Care Brigade at www.terracycle.com. A brigade is a mail-in program for recyclable materials being processed by TerraCycle a company specializing in hard to recycle items. To participate collect your oral care products in a small boxed lined with a plastic bag. When full tie up the bag, make sure there are no leaks and seal the box. Print your shipping label from the TerraCycle website and send your old toothbrush packing.
• 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.
• Plastic Gift Cards: Did you finally use up that gift card you got for Christmas last year? Instead of throwing it away, mail it into Earthworks System, the makers of plastic cards. Visit www.earthworkssystem.com/services.html to get the details on their mail-in program. With 3 billion new gift cards made every year, the collection program helps recycle the cards that are already in the system. Additional cards you can mail-in are library cards, hotel keys, membership cards, and shopper discount cards.