Thursday, March 27, 2008
Before you toss anything out, stop and think. It’s probably re-usable or recyclable. (Or it could be hazardous and require special disposal.) Here are some ways to get more mileage out of that stuff.
Shopping bags: Bring your own. Under California law, all large grocery stores must sell re-usable bags and return plastic bags for recycling. Many stores offer a nickel off for each bag you re-use.
Take-out containers: Pack Tupperware or Pyrex food storage containers as you head to a restaurant for take-out or leftovers. If you don’t bring your own container, try to “just say no” to Styrofoam. Ask for re-usable, recyclable aluminum foil instead.
Junk: Think before you buy. How long is this product’s useful life? How long will it remain in a landfill? Cheap plastic products tend to score worst on both fronts. You can vote with your dollars by choosing products and patronizing businesses that offer the environment a good deal.
Metal hangers: Take these to a dry cleaner, thrift shop, scrap-metal recycler, or Last Chance Mercantile at the Marina landfill.
Mailing materials: Take packing peanuts to your local mailing store, such as UPS. Re-use envelopes by sticking a new mailing label atop the old one.
CDs and DVDs: Send damaged discs to AuralTech for refinishing (auraltech.com). Trade exercise videos for others at videofitness.com. Recycle used CDs through cdrecyclingcenter.com.
Printer ink: Many local pharmacies and office-supply stores refill printer ink cartridges at a lower cost than buying them new. Or, you can buy an ink refill kit and do it yourself. Recycleplace.com pays for used cartridges.
Household items: Donate clothes, furniture, records, accessories, sports equipment, books and miscellaneous doo-dads that still have a useful life to a local thrift shop such as Last Chance Mercantile, Goodwill Industries, St. Vincent de Paul or Salvation Army. You also may post free stuff for pickup on 831classifieds.com, monterey.craigslist.org or through the Monterey-Salinas Freecycle group (groups.yahoo.com/group/MontereySalinasFreecycle). Clothes in good shape can fetch cash or trade credit at local resale shops.
Yard waste: Grass, leaves, plant clippings, flowers, weeds, sticks and small branches can go in your curbside yard waste bin. Or compost at home and add your coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps. The regional landfill accepts clean dirt for $1 per ton.
Paper: Newspaper, glossy inserts, magazines, flattened cardboard boxes, stationery, paper bags, computer paper, tags and receipts – virtually all paper that is not waxed, carbon-coated, bound with glue or food-contaminated – can go in your curbside recycling bin.
Glass: Clear, green and brown glass bottles and jars can go in your curbside recycling bin, broken or intact. Glass bottles with California Refund Value (CRV) may be taken to a buyback center for a refund.
Metal: Aluminum and metal cans and aluminum foil can go in your curbside recycling bin. Aluminum cans with CRV may be taken to a buyback center.
Plastic containers: All plastics coded #1 through #7 can go in your curbside recycling bin. Plastic bottles with CRV may be taken to a buyback center for a refund. Instead of buying bottled water, try a re-usable glass or stainless steel bottle that you can refill with filtered tap water.
Plastic bags: In Monterey, these can be bundled together (including plastic wrap) and placed in your curbside recycling bin. In other cities, these can be bundled and returned to large grocery stores for recycling.
Waxed cartons and pizza boxes: In the city of Monterey, these can go into your curbside recycling bins. In jurisdictions served by Waste Management Inc., waxed cartons are not accepted for recycling. Cardboard pizza boxes are on WM’s non-recyclable list, but waste district spokesman Jeff Lindenthal says parts that aren’t food-contaminated may be recycled.
Electronic Waste: Last Chance Mercantile collects free e-waste, including computers, Monday through Saturday. Hope Services also offers accepts e-waste. 1663 Catalina St., Sand City, 393-1575.
Cell phones: Your cellie contains hazardous materials. Under California law, retailers who sell cell phones also must accept them for re-use, recycling or proper disposal. Or you may mail them in for recycling. At thewirelessalliance.com, you can print a label for free shipping. Collectivegood.com will refurbish your phone and sell it to a person in the developing world.
Appliances, concrete, construction debris, lumber, scrap metal: The regional landfill accepts and recycles these for a fee. 14201 Del Monte Blvd., Marina. 384-5313. M-F: 6:30am-5pm; Sat: 8am-4:30pm; closed Sundays and holidays.
Athletic shoes: If your running shoes still have miles on them, consider sending them to a person in need in Africa: shoe4africa.org. If the shoes are spent, Nike will turn them into athletic flooring. Ship to the address at letmeplay.com/reuseashoe, or drop off old tennies at the Nike Factory store: 8225 Arroyo Circle, Suite 21, Gilroy. 408-847-4300.
Tyvek envelopes: Send bundles of 25 or less to Tyvek Recycling Specialist, 5401 Jefferson Davis Highway, Spot 197, Room 231, Richmond, Va. 23234.
Tires: State law prohibits disposal in the trash. Try planting heat-loving vegetables, like tomatoes, inside old tires filled with soil – the black rubber soaks up the sun. The regional landfill accepts used tires for a fee and ships them to recyclers, who turn them into playground surfaces and other items.
Beverage (including milk and juice) cartons and aseptic containers: Unless they are lined with aluminum, these can go into your curbside recycling bin.
Scrap metal: Take it to A&S Metals in Castroville or the regional landfill.
Flower pots: Check with your local nurseries about recycling.
Miscellaneous “techno-trash”: For a fee, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box for up to 70 pounds of computer-related trash, including CDs, jewel cases, batteries, mouses, and toner cartridges. For info, call 800-305-3475 or visit greendisk.com.
Landscape trimmings: Toss these in a standard backyard compost bin, worm bin or your curbside yard waste bin.
Fruit and vegetable trimmings, paper towels and used tissues: These can go in your backyard compost bin. Worms can turn organic waste into nutrient-rich “castings” for your garden. Home compost bins and worm bins are sold below wholesale cost at Last Chance Mercantile to residents living within the waste district’s service area. You may exchange compost materials with other locals at omexchange.org.
Compostable paper and bio-plastics: These are designed to decompose in municipal food-waste composting operations. Food waste is not yet a part of the Monterey Regional Waste Management District’s composting program, but staff is looking into it. For now, paper and bio-plastic food packaging that ends up in the landfill adds energy to the district’s methane gas-to-energy program as it decomposes – an improvement over petro-plastics, which don’t break down.
DISPOSE WITH CARE
Grease and cooking oil: Fried a turkey recently? That leftover cooking grease should go to a household hazardous-waste collection facility. Pouring cooking oil down the drain can clog pipes and cause problems at local wastewater treatment plants.
Motor oil: Free used-oil recycling containers are available upon request from garbage haulers. They also may be picked up free from the waste district’s household hazardous waste facility. Pour oil in an approved container and place it alongside your curbside recycling bin. Monterey County also administers a motor oil recycling program – see ciwmb.ca.gov/usedoil.
Other household hazardous waste (HHW): Fluorescent light bulbs (tubes and CFLs), aerosol cans, paint, varnish and thinners, pesticides and chemical fertilizers are examples of HHW. Any product containing the words “danger,” “warning,” “caution,” “poison,” “flammable” or “corrosive” should be handled as HHW. Take these materials to your local HHW collection agency or to the landfill in Marina. (Non-district residents may pay a small fee for dropping off items.)
Batteries: State law requires retailers who sell rechargeable batteries to take them back for recycling. Many cities on the Peninsula now offer battery drop-off locations for household batteries (see mrwmd.org for a complete list). Car batteries may be turned in to your local auto repair shop or household hazardous-waste collection facility, often for a small fee, or for free at the regional landfill.
Medical waste: Don’t flush it down the toilet. You may toss it in the trash or, even better for the environment, take it to a participating pharmacy. Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, 570 Munras Ave. in Monterey, collects old meds for safe disposal.
Under state law, consumers pay an extra charge when they buy a recyclable beverage container – 5 cents for each one under 24 ounces, and 10 cents for each one 24 ounces or more. Buyback centers refund this charge, called the California Refund Value. To find your nearest buyback center and recycling drop-off bin, visit mrwmd.org/recycling.htm.
SOURCES: Monterey Regional Waste Management District (mrwmd.org/recycling.htm), Co-Op America (coopamerica.org), Californians Against Waste (cawrecycles.org), recyclenow.org and listed websites. Other useful websites: Earth911.org, stopwaste.org, plasticbagrecycling.org, sustainabledave.org. For more information on state recycling laws and resources, visit ciwmb.ca.gov. For more information on county recycling programs, including commercial recycling, visit co.monterey.ca.us/Health/EnvironmentalHealth/recycling.htm