Recyling The Odd Items

by updated 2011/04/09

How do you do it? I know that our family goes through a lot of alkaline batteries every year. I have started trying to collect them before they go in the trash, but old battery habits die hard (OK, bad pun)! I know some still get tossed when they go dead. In addition, with the increased popularity of compact fluorescent bulbs, another small item that really should be recycled is destined for our landfills. I do save old paint, theoretically for our once yearly collection day. The reality is that this day often falls when I have another commitment, or when I am just too busy to drive the 10 miles to the collection place, wait in line, and drop off the paint. Consequently I have several years worth of old paint waiting to be recycled.

I know many of the workshops, garages, and barns in our area, probably like in most of the developed world, have fluorescent light tubes in them. I wonder what happens to these when they go bad? I bet many are just broken and put out with the trash. Talk about a bad problem, both for the people doing it and being exposed to the mercury and for the environment by having this mercury end up in the landfills.

So what can be done? I really don’t know. I would like to see our garbage company add a once a month pickup for all these odd, recyclable items. However, that may be impractical because of the varied shapes, sizes, and requirements of these items. How is the garbage company going to handle car batteries, paint, household and garden chemicals, fluorescent bulbs, and other items I am probably not thinking about, all in the same truck? Maybe more local collection centers can be opened? Or can the existing once a year special collection days be made monthly or even weekly?

Tell us what happens in your area. What do you do with all the odd recyclable items?

Will Sig
1 JD Thomas

This kind of problem could lead to a way to really connect with neighbors in the local community. If one were so inclined, it would be fairly easy to contact people on your block and see if you can interest people in teaming up to dispose of one or two kinds of items each month.

Maybe try for for CFL/long bulbs one month, and batteries the next, and paint the next. Make arrangements for people to share the work of collecting and transporting these things so nobody is driving to the recycling center with just one household’s worth of batteries or bulbs.

It could even be possible to get a local business, a market, drug store, hardware store, etc… to act as a collection point. If you pick a place where people go anyway it might be easy to get people to participate.

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2 Will

That’s a great idea. Especially if you live in an area where you actually have blocks of homes, it would be fairly easy to do. Even where we live in the country, it might work. Collecting from others might make people feel more committed also.

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3 JD Thomas

One aspect of that idea I had gets into social engineering in a beneficial way. If someone knows that you may be calling them in three months to see if they have any batteries to collect they would probably be more inclined to saving them for disposal instead of simply tossing them,.

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4 Will

JD, you always seem to have an interesting take on things. Your use of the term ‘social engineering” prompted me to use Google to refresh myself on what it means. I had only thought recently about the term in the way it relates to scammers, hackers etc. But here it really could be used in a beneficial way!

-Will

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5 JD Thomas

Like many tools, social engineering can be used for good or bad purposes.

Here’s a bit of interesting trivia for you. Most Burger Kings now have a posted policy near the cash registers saying that if you do not receive a receipt, your meal is free. That little sign is one of largest nationwide social engineering projects ever conceived and it saves Burger King stores tens of millions of dollars annually by co-opting customers as ‘security guards’ for their cash registers. Prior to those signs going up, Burger King had a big problem with employees selling products and just pocketing the cash by not ringing some or all of the order on a register. They had plenty of employees who were slick enough to fake it and it was costing them money. By placing that sign there, the customer is acting as security for Burger King to ensure that the order is actually processed on the register and the money is therefore entered into the system.

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6 Will

That IS interesting and a smart move by Burger King. Of course, I would not have known about that as I never eat at BK! :-O

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7 Bobbie

I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I do agree that it’s all the little things that can add up to a major problem in the end. Thanks for reminding us.

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8 clairec23

I don’t even know where my local recycling points are but blog action day has made me determined to find out. As others have said, take one thing at a time and remember that every step helps. You’ll free up a lot of storage space too. You’re making an effort, that counts :)

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9 fossfor

another thing to do is buy an efficient battery recharger. rechargeable batteries can be used as much as 1000 times.

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10 Will

Bobbie – Yes, doing the little things, and starting even with small steps can make a positive difference, just like as you say, a lot of little bad things add up to a problem in the end.

Claire – Sometimes even large communities don’t have actual collection sites for this stuff. In our county, which has over 150,000 people, they collect things like used paint once a year. On other days, even if you take it to the official recycling center, they won’t accept it.

Fosfor- I have rechargeable batteries for some things. But, I have discovered that some electronic items do not like them. They do not last as long as regular batteries and don’t seem to have quite as much power. They are getting better with the built in rechargeable batteries, so maybe the AA’s etc. will improve with time. Batteries are something I think we are going to see huge changes in over the next several years. Not just big ones like for cars and storing solar generated power, but also the little ones we use in our electronics.

Thank you all for your comments and also for taking the time to link to your sites which are all well done and sites I would not have seen otherwise.

-Will

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11 Anonymous

We can also do our part, no matter how small we think our efforts may be. Aside from plastic containers, we can also reuse or recycled used papers and wood – all we need is the right attitude and correct guidance on how to do it. May this example serve as a wake-up call to those who take for granted the
importance of recycling not just to us but to the environment as well.

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12 dlf

Recycling is the process of turning one products useful parts into a new product; this is done to conserve on the consumption of resources, energy and space used in landfills. Many people beginning a recycling program look around and wonder what they can put in the recycling bin; there is so much information available on this site, so don’t panic. The fact is many of our resources as well as our Earth is not renewable and we have to start taking control of our selves beginning with the world we live in.

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13 Anonymous

May this serve as an inspiration to all of us the next time we throw another
plastic bottle or waste paper products unconsciously. In this way, you get to save money from buying ready-made displays and you reduce the amount of trash in you bin. Aside from plastic products, used papers are also popular for they can be recycled and reused in so many ways. We just have to be practical and creative in maximizing the use of our materials at home or in the office so that we do not have to buy everything. I do hope that this
starts a positive trend among other companies so that they may also look
for ways in reducing waste.

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14 pat

Recycling is a way of life. Once we have made that choice to implement all the steps of recycling in our daily lives, and stick to that choice every single day, recycling becomes second nature to us. Sure there will be lapses, it’s not easy for us creatures of habit. But no matter, we press on. Every small contribution to the recycling movement and the initiative to protect our environment adds up to how our present society eventually shapes our nation’s and the Earth’s future.

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15 steve

Recycling conserves fresh water for drinking and other potable uses. It benefits the ecosystem, including plants, fish and wildlife, because less fresh water is removed from streams, rivers and other bodies of water. It reduces the cost to transport water from remote locations and helps maintain water supplies in our underground aquifers. It reduces and prevents pollution by decreasing the wastewater discharged to the environment. Sustainability of wetland’s and related ecosystems can be greatly enhanced through the practice of recycling and reusing wastewater.

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16 Kevin

I’m interested to know if you can point me in the direction of any conclusive research on the topic? Particularly anything that looks into whether modern ‘no mercury added’ alkaline batteries are or aren’t hazardous when disposed of in landfills.

I’m asking as I’m thinking about beginning to lobby for household battery recycling/collection in the city I live in (Christchurch, New Zealand), but want to get my facts straight before I begin, and evaluate whether it’s an issue worth campaigning on, or not!

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17 Will

Here are a couple of links to things I have written. It may be time to research and update this, but it seems to depend on where you live.

http://wp.me/p5L7V-2c
http://wp.me/p5L7V-2K

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