As someone who cares about the environment I try to reuse and recycle as much as I can. Not only does recycling help reduce waste, but it’s also a good teaching lesson for my kids who now get that recycling is important for the future of the planet (and they are the future).
By now most people are used to recycling plastic, paper and glass products in the blue bin at the curb. But there are many other household items that should be recycled and easily can be if you want to put in a little extra time and effort in.
Here are four things I recycle on a regular basis that you should be recycling as well.
Plastic grocery store bags can be reused during many shopping visits or in your waste bin instead of buying special garbage bags (which also helps save money). But what about the plastic bags that milk, bread or newspapers come in? And what about plastic sandwich baggies? These all add up to a lot of waste every week. The good news is that these can be turned into many different products (like composite lumber) if you recycle them!
Some areas allow you to put them directly in your blue bin (check with your local municipality to see if this is allowed) or you can bag them up and drop them off at some grocery and big box stores (Metro, Zehrs and Walmart all have bins for recycling plastic bags in my area).
Find out where you can recycle plastic bags in your area by visiting plasticfilmrecycling.org.
I try using rechargeable batteries as much as I can (Amazon has some great ones for a good price). But, as any parent knows, it’s impossible to keep up with all the toys that need batteries and sometimes you need to grab a pack in the checkout line.
Throwing batteries in the garbage is one of the worst things you can do for the environment as they can leak into the ground, causing soil and water pollution. I collect all my dead batteries in an old glass pickle jar (a clean plastic peanut butter container also works). Once I have enough dead batteries to fill the jar I take them somewhere like Best Buy, Staples or Home Depot and drop them off in the dedicated battery recycling bin (usually at the store entrance).
Take a look at the picture below to see how many dead batteries I found during a recent audit of all the toys and devices we had stashed away in our house. It would be devastating if all of those went to the landfill!
To find a location near you to take batteries to recycle, visit call2recycle.ca.
My kids love those applesauce pouches (pictured above) and insist on having them in their school lunches. These generate a lot of waste and I held back on buying them until I discovered they could be recycled (along with many other household items) by TerraCycle.
Recycling via TerraCycle is a bit different as you need to collect certain amounts of items you are interested in recycling before you can ship it off to them. Once you have enough (for the snack pouches you need at least 2lbs or about 77 pouches) you box them up, print a free shipping label and send them off. TerraCycle turns the waste into items like toys and park benches.
Along with the snack pouches, TerraCycle also recycles cereal bags, cookie and cracker wrappers, cigarette butts and coffee bags. For more information on TerraCycle, visit terracycle.ca.
Keeping old or dead cellphones, TVs, DVD players, computers and small household appliances out of the landfill is a necessity these days as more and more devices get replaced every few years. Electronics can be dropped off at most waste management facilities to be recycled for free. Some Best Buy and Canadian Tire locations also have bins for collecting electronics. If the devices you don’t need/want still work you can try selling them on Kijiji or Craigslist first. As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” (it also doesn’t hurt to make a few extra dollars either).
Find out where you can recycle electronics in your area by visiting recycleyourelectronics.ca.
What uncommon items do you recycle that others should as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below.