Green Grab Bag

Published on October 21st, 2013 | by growwny

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Can I Recycle This?

BY KATY DUGGAN-HAAS, SUSTAINABILITY EDUCATOR, MODERN RECYCLING

Can I recycle old clothes in my recycling cart or bin? That is a question we in the recycling industry are often asked. No, clothes and other fabric items are not generally accepted in curbside recycling collection programs. Even with current sorting technology, clothing is challenging to separate from other common recyclable items, but that does not mean you have to put it in the trash.

Think Halloween! A great way to re-use old and unwanted clothes is for Halloween costumes. If you don’t have what you need for your own costume, you can donate your used and unwanted clothing to thrift stores, church rummage sales and other organizations that will sell or re-distribute them to people who will use them. Some organizations even put donation bins throughout a community to make collection more convenient. Don’t worry if your clothes are worn out. Clothing the thrift stores collect that cannot be sold as clothing is often sold to make into rags or shredded into fiber for insulation or other products.

Another option for your old clothes is to sell them through consignment stores or online re-sale sites. Check out used clothing stores for Halloween costumes or your own clothing needs too. Many people donate items that have never been worn but didn’t fit in size or style, so with a little time you can find some great bargains and help the environment by re-using rather than purchasing new.

You may also be wondering about household batteries. Batteries are not accepted in curbside recycling programs because they are a fire hazard when handled by the recycling equipment around lots of paper. Household alkaline batteries (non-rechargeable A, AA, etc) are safe enough to go in the trash in small quantities, but button cell batteries and rechargeable batteries should be recycled. Many stores that sell rechargeable batteries will accept your old battery for recycling when you purchase a new one. Some, but not all, household hazardous waste and electronic waste collection events will also accept them.

Printer ink and toner cartridges can often be returned to stores that sell them. You can often find collection boxes at post offices, libraries, schools and local municipal offices too. It takes less energy to refill and reuse ink cartridges than it does to shred them and reform a new cartridge, so recycling these separate from your curbside container is the best option.

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