Recycling: How to Preserve and Conserve our Natural Resources
by Marlene Verdock, Contributing Writer, 11/24/2008 (Environmental)

Where to start:

Give cell phones back to their manufacturers or donate them to charity. Return iPods to Apple for recycling or sell them for parts. Keep old TV's out of landfills by taking them to a safe e-cycling facility. Take e-waste to stores like Best Buy and Staples that have recycling programs. Search Earth 911's database o f recycling locations across the U.S.

Certain electronic products (Laptops, Computers Monitors and Televisions ) are now banned from California landfills. The State of California has adopted the Waste Recycling Act of 2003, which will require mandatory collection of an advanced recycling fee on the initial sale of certain electronic products.

Electronic products subject to the recycling fee, effective November 1, 2004, include:

All televisions and computer display monitors containing cathode ray tubes with screen sizes greater than 4 inches (Panasonic TVs subject to the recycling fee include standard tube, pure flat, projection, and TV/DVD, TV/DVD/VCR, TV/VCR combination models; Panasonic PROLINE CRT monitors also covered) XN

All laptop and notebook computers with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens greater than 4 inches. (all Panasonic "Toughbook" mobile computers are subject to the fee).

All LCD containing computer display monitors with screen sizes greater than 4 inches.

The amount of the fee is based on the screen size when measured diagonally:

$6 Screen sizes less than 15 inches

$8 Screen sizes equal to 15 inches but less than 35 inches

$10 Screen sizes equal to or greater than 35 inches

Under the law, on and after November 1, 2004, a waste recycling fee is imposed on the first sale in the state of a covered product to a consumer by a retailer. Retailers that sell the covered products are to collect the fee for each covered product sold by the retailer.

The state agency responsible for implementing the new law is the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB). By implementing an advanced recycling fee on certain electronics products, California will move forward toward ensuring that waste or end of life CRT products in the state are collected and managed in an environmentally responsible and efficient manner.

Panasonic advocates the sustainable and environmentally sound management of electronic products at their end of life. The company believes it has a societal obligation to develop an environmentally conscious plan to recycle. For more information on Panasonic's recycling go to their web site:

Please use one of these directories to help you locate a facility in your area which collects your product:

Approved Collectors and Recyclers of Covered Electronic Wastes:

Electronic Directory: Find Businesses near you. Local business listings for the US:

EIA Environment: Consumer Education

Reuse and Recycle Programs in California
Recycle rechargeables:

Once a rechargeable is dead, you cannot simply throw it in the trash. The law requires you to recycle all rechargeable batteries, and the best way to do it is to take the battery back to the store you bought it from. By law, any store selling such batteries will be a proper disposal facility, and must take them back.

Current law does not dictate the recycling of primary, or non-rechargeable batteries like alkaline, lithium or titanium batteries. But these batteries contain potentially harmful chemicals as well, and recycling them is still the best thing to do. Take them back to a battery store for disposal, or to any municipal recycling center that accepts old batteries. It's good for the environment and for the health of future generations. Old batteries are often melted down to make new ones, so recycling is even good for keeping the price of batteries down!

Nickel cadmium. Nicad, or nickel cadmium batteries, are especially toxic, and should never end up in a landfill, where the carcinogenic cadmium could leach into groundwater. Taking them back to the store will ensure that they don't end up in the normal waste stream.

What should I do with clothes I no longer wear?

March your green self and those duds right over to Goodwill. Sorry to give you such an obvious answer, but the 100-year-old charity really is your best bet. When Goodwill receives textile donations that are too worn out to be given to secondhand shops, they sell them to textile recyclers. The fabric fibers can be transformed into polishing rags for industrial use, insulation and padding, car mats, fancy cotton-fiber paper, and lots more. Proceeds help fund employment programs for disabled and disadvantaged people. Make sure fabric is clean and dry.

Is a landfill the best place for food waste?

For years, the great garbage-disposal wars have been going on without most of us even noticing. Cities like New York, along with many governments in Europe, banned disposals altogether, arguing that the added food waste would overtax the water-treatment system. New York removed the ban for residential kitchens in 1997. Meanwhile, the appliance manufacturers, along with homeowners and restaurants who prefer getting rid of food through the drain, have argued that the disposal is actually a green machine, reducing the amount of trash sent to landfills.

It is true that with the major exception of grease and fats, which can block pipes and cause overflows, water-treatment systems are designed pretty well to handle most of the scraps you might have left over from dinner. The leftovers you shovel into the sink will eventually make their way to a wastewater plant, where the sewage goes through "grit treatment," which strains out the largest solid matter. (Sewage treatment is one of the few disciplines in which you can use words like grit, sludge, and scum as technical terms.) Whatever stuff gets separated from the water, either goes into landfill, condensed into fertilizer, or digested by microorganisms.

Still, dumping waste into the water system has environmental costs. There is evidence that the effluent that is pumped back into local water streams does affect their chemical composition and aquatic life. You will also be using a lot more water if you decide to go with the disposal, and you will be indirectly responsible for the extraction of the metal needed to make the appliance.

The decomposition of your trash in the landfill will likely result in more damaging greenhouse gas emissions, since the breakdown of your food waste may produce methane so quickly that it can't be captured. By contrast, some wastewater-treatment systems are actually looking for more food solids, since that will make the process of converting waste into energy more efficient. And wastewater-treatment plants also provide a way to reuse leftover food as fertilizer, although critics have expressed concerns that the use of biosolids on land may not always be safe.

The research is unambiguous about one point, though: Under normal circumstances, you should always compost if you can. Otherwise, go ahead and use your garbage disposal if the following conditions are met: First, make sure that your community isn't running low on water. Don't put anything that is greasy or fatty in the disposal. And find out whether your local water-treatment plant captures methane to produce energy. If it doesn't, and your local landfill does, you may be better off tossing those mashed potatoes in the trash.

Recycling is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy, and it's the most commonplace. In 2006, the United States recycled 32 percent of its waste according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This is the energy equivalent to saving more than 10 billion gallons of gasoline. Products made from recycled material are becoming increasingly popular, making it more valuable than ever to keep useful materials out of the waste stream.

Yahoo! Green Web Sites:

Corks, shoes, and other plasticky items can be recycled by mail.

Putting holiday papers in the recycling bin depends on the type of wrap and where you live.

Stores that recycle your Stuff.
Next time you go shopping, consider bringing more than just your reusable shopping bags. A growing number of retailers are making it easy for you to responsibly recycle castaways.

How to get paid to recycle!
RecycleBank collects your recyclable goods and gives you coupons to use with companies like Coca-Cola and CVS. The program has started in 13 states and is spreading to more.

Does that gift card keep on giving?
Stuck with a pile of plastic credit-card-like thingies leftover from the holidays? Plenty Magazine knows what to do.

Easy recycling of compact fluorescents.
Now 75 percent of Americans will be within 10 miles of a CFL recycling center, thanks to Home Depot.

How about a green choice?:
Table settings that don't create a lot of trash, or require a lot of resources to produce. Two options for adding a little green to your Thanksgiving table are:

Bambu Veneerware.
Available from many online sources, these disposable plates are made of organic bamboo, which is a fast growing, renewable, sustainable plant. The actual plates are biodegradable too. Stick them in your compost pile and they break down in four to six months (you can leave the food scraps on, so easier clean-up after the meal).

Bambu Veneerware comes in packs of eight and cost around $8 to $12. If you don't have time to order them on the Web, many Cost Plus World Market stores carry these plates.

Thrift stores
For a slightly smaller crowd or if you need big serving dishes, try thrifting. Second-hand stores always have plenty of inexpensive dishes. You're giving new life to goods that might have otherwise headed to a landfill, plus you can find unique and charming pieces. I've bought a ton of gorgeous silver serving platters from Goodwill and other thrift-stores over the years, and these look great on my holiday table. Second-hand shops are also good places to look for tablecloths and cloth napkins. You can set your whole Thanksgiving table, while reducing waste at the same time.


Work for our precious resource: PLANET EARTH

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