Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

How to recycle practically anything



I’m a master recycler, but aseptic packages (like juice boxes and soy milk boxes) and Tyvek envelopes have been two of my most frustrating challenges. Even in San Francisco, where our recycling program is exceptional in the amount and variety of stuff it accepts, we can’t get rid of these items by just tossing them in the blue or green bins.

Google to the rescue. Today I found a great article from E magazine, “How to recycle practically anything”, which gave me answers to both of these.

The article is great, I recommend you peruse it if you ever wondered how to recycle any of the following:
  • aerosol cans
  • aluminum foil
  • autos, jet skis, boats, RVs, etc.
  • books
  • car batteries, motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze
  • carpet and padding
  • clothing
  • eyeglasses
  • fruit rinds, veggie scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags
  • magazines, catalogs, phone books
  • crayons, art supplies, wine corks, fabric
  • ewspaper, aluminum cans, metal cans
  • paper, cardboard boxes
  • plastic bags
  • 1–7 plastic containers
  • packaging “peanuts”
  • pots and pans
  • Priority Mail (Tyvek) envelopes
  • records
  • styrofoam
  • videotapes, floppy disks, Zip disks, DVDs, CDs, jewel cases
  • wire hangers
Two they didn’t cover, which I wish they would: wax paper and waxed containers like milk cartons. If you live in San Francisco, you can now put them in your compost bin. In most other places, I think this one’s still a challenge.

For many, plastic bags are also a little challenging since most curbside programs don’t take them (including San Francisco), but you can recycle clean bags at Safeway stores (in bins usually located near the front, outisde), so it’s just a matter of having the discipline to save them up and deliver them. In our home, we separate them into ones we can reuse and ones that aren’t worth it. We stuff them in a bin until it’s full, then find the largest bag and fill it with all the others, and migrate it to the garage or the trunk of the car, where we’ll remember to take it out the next time we go to Safeway.

E’s article also includes a few things you may not realize are hazardous materials, and shouldn’t be just thrown in the trash:
  • batteries
  • fluorescent lights
  • consumer electronics (iPods, cell phones, pagers, computers, etc.)
  • paint
  • smoke detectors
The last one I wish they’d covered was prescription medicine. While you can’t technically recycle it, it’s very hazardous to throw into the garbage, or worse yet, flush down the toilet. That stuff goes right into our water system and get gobbled up by fish, frogs, birds, and others, and it comes right back around to you and me in the form of rainwater and the fish we eat. Do you really want to eat salmon a la viagra?

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1 Comments

Blogger Brian said...

I wouldn't be too worried about landfilling prescription or OTC drugs. The problem with flushing them is that they get into the environment quickly (also the liquid environment where fish etc. get exposed very quickly).

In a landfill they'll be chemically broken down over years. Any leachate is treated (supposedly), and at least no modern landfill will dump leachate directly into a stream.

More controversially, I'll bet composting drugs is safe, especially in a hot compost, and certainly in a compost used for landscaping. The critters in compost shouldn't have any trouble breaking down the drugs.

2/02/2009 08:41:00 AM

 

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