Is there really anything better that feeling as though your house is in order? Your home, town, country, planet.
The everyday experience of dealing with your stuff, if you are a typical American consumer of electronics, toiletries, and packaged goods, is that you have a weekly average amount of many recyclables; yearly you may have one, two or more electronic items to dispose of. While reducing the packaging in the manufacture pipeline is ideal, our immediate power as consumers is in how we buy and how we dispose of consumables. Taking care of these daily life recyclables is the front line of the effect you have on our world.
I write this as an American, living in Frederick County, Maryland which puts my experience in one of the most resource rich places anywhere. While there is an enormous array of recycling procedures around the country, the system we have here in Frederick is a great model of single stream recycling for the average household. Combine that with local businesses that have added specialty recycle collection to their services, and even made it their business model, it is clear that Frederick County is moving the basic tasks of life toward sustainable living for everyone.
Things that work for our household:
The following work for me and my household but are not endorsements, you need to find what resources work for you.
First step: Your town has trash and recycling pick up; there will be a list of what is recyclable and what can be rejected.
In Frederick, the County Government Website has clearly listed recycle terms and pick up times.
Second step: The effort needed to get specific recyclables to the right processor.
It is pretty easy to take recyclables to the curb for routine pick up. What is not so easy is finding a recycling venue when you need it—specifically, when and where is it practical to drop off your stuff?
So what works here in Frederick County, Md? For me it is having a short list of places that are on my general route for errands around town. And yes I put that list on my fridge on paper. Scrap paper.
Here is a big shout out to two businesses that make it easier for me to recycle everyday items that we all would like to keep out of a landfill. It is pretty challenging to find a convenient “specialized” recycle center for items such as batteries, light bulbs (of various sorts), electronics, toothpaste tubes. The following two businesses are in close proximity and that means combined errands in one trip.
e-End is certified to dispose of electronic waste in an environmentally safe manner—cell phones, laptops, etc. and will also certify that the hard drive has been shredded for secure disposal. Their location at 7118 Geoffrey Way Unit E Frederick, MD 21704 is easy to find and there are no parking problems while you unload your beloved dinosaurs.
Here is a list of items e-End accepts.
Also, look for the e-End “Small Electronics Recycling Drop-off Bin” now available at Common Market.
I absolutely love the recycle bins set up at MOM’s. They cover the odd stuff like toothpaste tubes, snack bags, Brita filters. Once a year they have a denim drive. The MOM’s Recycle Center page explains it nicely.
Located at: 5273 Buckeystown Pike Frederick, MD 21703
Many other businesses provide recycling of specific items. Common Market, Lowes, Staples to name a few. Tip for Online list’s: These change but once you find one how do you keep track? Keep a list on the fridge of ones that suit you, and yes, you do need to check on them from time to time. Most recyclable recipients post current recycling terms on their company website and a search this website feature; simply type recycling into the Search Box. If there is none call the company, have a conversation with a person.
Need more options? Try an online search for the item you wish to recycle or try Earth911.
Lastly, a note about the value of recycling. Do you know that recycling is a multi-billion dollar global industry. At the time of writing this post I have been reading of a growing trend in the global recycle stream which has been building for more than a few years now.
China no longer wants all of our trash.
Because recycled material becomes raw material for new products, that means more manufacturing opportunity here in the USA.
For a really great read about the economics of the global recycling—aka “junkyard”—economy try Junkyard Planet by Adam Minter, Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (November 12, 2013).
Minter clearly describes the global value of our recyclables, billions annually, and the impact on local environments around the world.
Other countries see our scrap as raw material. A prime buyer of US scrap and recycled material of all sorts has been China. In recent years China has been slowing, perhaps stopping, these purchases. What this will mean for cost of imported goods and manufactured goods in the US time will tell. The real bottom line is that recycling does affect all of us and there will always be a part for you to play.