Most of us know to separate our paper, plastic, glass and aluminum from the regular trash. Some of us even know how to dispose of electronics, CFL bulbs, paint and batteries. As our landfills continue to grow, it is important to continue searching for new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Although cork is a renewable resource, it is not often recycled after use. The ReCORK program collects used wine corks, turning them into flooring tiles, insulation, craft materials and sports equipment. Over 39 million wine corks have been collected since the inception of the program. In addition, ReCORK sponsors the planting of thousands of cork trees each year to offset the carbon footprint of recycling.
Monofilament fishing line is non-biodegradable and cannot be recycled by usual means. The lines often end up in our lakes and oceans, creating a potential hazard for wildlife. The Berkley Conservation Institute recycles the fishing lines, creating artificial habitat structures that promote plant growth and appeal to fish. These “Fish-Habs” are made of monofilament lines, spools and other post-consumer products. The Institute has recycled over 9 million miles of fishing line since 1990.
Have a bowling trophy that has been sitting in your basement for decades? Old trophies are often made of molded plastic, which is sometimes difficult to recycle. Lamb Awards and Engraving in Westminster, Maryland, pioneered trophy recycling by reusing trophy parts or donating complete trophies to charities. They also accept unwanted medals and plaques.
Over 12 million crayons are made in the United States each day, most of which eventually end up in landfills. The Minnesota-based Crazy Crayons “upcycles” crayons, transforming unwanted, broken and used crayons into new crayons with fun shapes. Even the wax covered crayon wrappers are bundled and reused as fire starters.
Have some furniture, clothing or household items you just are not using anymore? The Freecycle Network is comprised of local groups, moderated by volunteers, with the intent of giving and getting unwanted items for free. Members can post items that they are willing to offer, giving items that would normally be thrown away a new life. This website gives a new meaning to “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”