Recycle - Reuse

  • Lady Aurora, High Priestess of Sylvan Circle

Of course everyone has heard of recycling glass, aluminum, plastic and newspaper. How about recycling:

Plastic Bags

The bags we get from the grocery store can be reused. I use mine to carry lunches to work, and to pick up dog poo. Several grocery stores local to my area (Giant and Safeway in Maryland) have collection bins solely for plastic grocery bags. You can recycle your bags simply by dropping them off.

Even better than recycling plastic bags is to buy sturdy tote bags for groceries and reuse them over and over again. Here is a great site for reusable bags: www.ReusableBags.com. I love the ACME Workhorse Style 1500, because it folds into a teensy size and fits any purse. Gentle on the hands, unlike plastic grocery bags. For even more conscientious bags, consider cloth bags, which are available all over, but this is one place you might consider: www.PaperNorPlastic.com.

White Paper

Some local governments won't offer paper recycling, but many offices do. If they do not recycle white paper at your office, encourage them to begin such a program. If they do recycle white paper, make sure you are using it to the full advantage. You can encourage reticent coworkers to put their paper in the recycling bin instead of the "circular file". But it's always good to reuse the paper before it's recycled. That saves trees' lives. If your office uses one-sided paper, go ahead and use the other side for scrap paper or notes before tossing it in the recycle bin. I cut the papers into quarters for "To Do" lists or notes while talking on the phone, or for short memos attached to papers.

Plastic Rings

Do you work in an office that has a soda machine? If it is anything like my office, once a week a company comes and stocks cans, leaving behind a stack of plastic rings that held the cans together in six packs. These rings are RECYCLABLE. More than that, though. They are dangerous to the wildlife. Birds in particular seem to get the rings tangled around their throats or beaks and then cannot eat and starve to death. It sounds hard to believe, but I have seen the photos. This was big news many years ago, and companies promised to make easily breakable rings. Environmentalists declared a victory and walked away. Well, I personally do not think the job is done. Maybe the new breakaway rings failed, I can only speculate. But I challenge you to take a set of rings and with your opposable thumbs and strength, try to break a ring. If they were breakaway rings at one point, they are no longer. Cut up the rings making all closed loops open, and then toss them into your plastic recycling bin.

Styrofoam Peanuts

UPS Stores will gladly accept your packing peanuts and reuse them. If you are like me, and order often from the Internet or catalogues, you will find that you quickly collect a bag's worth. UPS makes it very easy to simply walk up and drop off your recycling bundle of joy.

Eyeglasses

Old eyeglasses can be donated to nonprofits that will reuse them to provide glasses for the needy. The Lion's Club is an organization that has been recycling eyeglasses for years. You can find a collection site and read more about their program here: www.LionsClubs.org/EN/content/vision_eyeglass_recycling.shtml .

Cell Phones

Verizon will gladly recycle your old Verizon cell phone for you. Several organizations offer to recycle cell phones of any make or model. Dispensers at the exits of The Baltimore Zoo provide mailer bags to take home and mail in your cell phone for recycling. Free and easy. Charitable Recycling Program will even make a donation to a charity for every cell phone you send. Find out the details at www.CharitableRecycling.com/CR/home2.asp. See also www.Call2Recycle.org for a listing of stores near you that will recycle cell phones.

Batteries

Used to be that old batteries could be terrible for the environment. In fact, for many years a long standing feature of most Sylvan Circle open holidays was collecting batteries so they could be safely disposed of. However times have changed! Thanks to the "Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act of 1996", significant mercury no longer exists in standard alkaline batteries. So alkaline batteries can now safely be disposed of in household trash. However please be aware that rechargeable batteries can still contain heavy metals and should be recycled. For more details, please see
http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/batteries.php as well as
http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/recycling/battery.pdf.

Composting

I consider composting to be the ultimate recycler. It takes a huge portion of household waste and turns it into natural fertilizer for plants and gardens. Yard waste and old or rotted food products (except protein and dairy) as well as tea bags and paper, can all go into the composter. Composting can be done anywhere, even if you have a small apartment. Gaiam (www.Gaiam.com) and other retailers offer a spinning compost bin that can fit onto just about any apartment balcony.

Junk

We all have times when we decide we have junk we don't want anymore. Old books, clothes, jewelry, pots and pans, etc. Don't just throw them away. Some old clothes like undershirts make excellent rags to use for dusting your home or polishing ritual tools. The rest of the junk can be a treasure to someone else. You could sell the stuff in a yard sale, give it to friends/family or donate it to Goodwill Industries. Also consider using Freecycle as a network that connects people getting rid of stuff with people who want stuff. By reusing this stuff we save resources that would otherwise be used in making new junk. And the ratty sweaters that are threadbare? Undo the threads, cut them small, and you can set them out in springtime for the birds making nests. They love that stuff.

"Recycle" Your Body

Traditional burial is most earth unfriendly. It involves replacing your natural body fluids with chemicals and preservatives, then encasing your corpse in hardwoods or metal boxes, that are then entombed in cement cases in the earth. This will not prevent your corpse from decaying, but does rob the animals and plants of your life-sustaining protein and minerals. Not to mention stealing precious open space, and replacing it with manicured lawns that are unusable for anything but housing cement boxes underground.

We all know that cremation is an earth-friendly way to quickly convert our bodies into fertilizer. By spreading our ashes on the ground, or under a tree, we return back to the earth. Our bodies, empty shells no longer of use to us, will nourish the ground that once nourished us. Its good karma. This used to be the only earth-friendly choice of dispensing with our physical remains. But nowadays, if you want to bury your body, allowing it to be slowly returned to the earth without the application of fire, you have an option in green burials. So far it seems that one place in the US is offering green burials (with many available in the UK). Memorial Ecosystems has created a nature preserve and cemetery near Westminster, South Carolina, where the traditional elements of a cemetery are no where to be found: no manicured lawns, embalming fluids or metal vaults are permitted. Instead, the 32-acre Ramsey Creek Preserve is managed as a native ecosystem complete with flowing streams, wildflowers and mature forests.

 

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