Tips for Next-Level Recycling

by David Sung

There are creative ways to decrease your waste that aren’t daunting tasks, and most don’t even require changing your lifestyle.  Let’s all celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by embracing new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Recycle Electronics for Gift Cards

Target teamed up with NextWorth and began a movement towards recycling used electronics such as cell phones, laptops, and video games for Target gift cards.  To find out if your item is eligible for a trade in, just search Target’s trade-in catalog..  Once you accept, Target will give you free UPS shipping and a Target gift card will be mailed to you in about 10 days.  Target stores also honor trade-ins, however, not all locations participate in the program. So, be sure to find a store that does.

Opt-Out of Pre-Approved Credit Cards

If you’re like every other adult American, you have been approached via mail by credit card companies that tell you you’re pre-approved for their credit cards in hopes that you will fill out an application.  They even make it easy for you and send a physical application with a fake credit card attached.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), companies are permitted to include your name on these lists to creditors and insurers and make offers to you even if you did not request them.  However, the FCRA also allows you the right to “Opt-Out” from receiving these offers.  Simply by opting out of these offers you can save a few trees.

Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audit

A walk-through of your home will help you discover where valuable energy is being wasted.  While a professional home energy audit will be more thorough, you can prioritize repairs and upgrades for free by yourself.  Locate and seal common air leaks along baseboards, windows, and door frames.  Check for heat loss through walls and ceilings that could be caused by inferior insulation.  Heating and cooling equipment should be checked once a year, and air filters should be changed at least quarterly.  Inefficient light bulbs could also be culprits in producing high energy bills. Check for energy efficient choices like compact fluorescent bulbs and LEDs to replace incandescent bulbs.  A home energy audit is a good place to begin looking for potential energy savers, and instructions for a more thorough walk-through can be found here.

Get Crafty

Try reusing newspaper in a completely new way – newspaper planter pots.  Follow these easy steps to make tiny pots as an earth-friendly planter for seedlings to develop in until they are strong enough to plant in the ground, newspaper planter and all.  All you need is last week’s newspaper and an empty can of soup.

Cardboard is another easily-repurposed everyday item.  Cardboard comprises about 9% of refuse in landfills and is used for 90% of shipped products in the United States.  After you’ve emptied the contents from your latest Amazon purchase, give the large box to your kids.  It might seem simple compared to their electronic games, but your kid’s imagination will keep them entertained for hours.  Let them decorate it with markers, buttons and ribbon.  Cardboard boxes are also good for placing under a leaky car to prevent driveway damage, as cheap storage, and they can even be used for sheet mulching a garden.

Do you have any other ways you take recycling to the next level?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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