Ok, so I am a tree hugger. There, I said it. I am super crazy passionate about recycling in any way possible! Why? Because our children are the future. More often than not, people don’t want to declutter because they have no idea where to put the unwanted stuff. Finding the right place for it can be a huge burden that so many people don’t want to even begin to tackle; therefore, they just throw it in the trash can.
Being green definitely takes time and commitment, but I promise you, you are doing Mother Nature (and our future generations) a huge favor by recycling.
So today, Earth Day 2020, I have created your go-to list of some of our most frequently asked about household items, if they are recyclable, and what to do with them!
What to Recycle and Where to Take It
AA, AAA, C, and D batteries are unfortunately not typically recyclable can be thrown away in the trash
6V and 9V batteries should have their terminals taped and then sealed in a plastic bag when throwing in the trash
Lead-acid and Rechargeable Batteries:
Drop them off at your local recycling center
For more information on care, use, and disposal of batteries, visit Duracell’s official website.
Regardless of age, these can be donated
Protecting Your Data - One reason you might be holding on to that laptop from 2004 is that you know you have information saved on it and aren’t sure how to make sure your private data is safe.
Here’s what I really think . . . if you haven’t been able to turn it on for 10+ years because you don’t have the right charge cord or it’s broken, a random person who might get their hands on it isn’t going to bother. However, if you want to be 100% safe, here are some options:
Take a hammer to the hard drive (I’m kidding…sort of!)
Wipe the hard drive on your own — here are Best Buy’s tips
Have the Geek Squad at Best Buy wipe your hard drive, then recycle it right there!
Target Stores accept cell phones and ink cartridges, as well as plastic bags (this includes dry cleaning bags, grocery bags and clean Ziploc bags!)
Many charities have partnered with cell phone refurbishing companies and recyclers as a way of generating funds while keeping phones out of landfills.
Phones not in good working order, and any in excess, are recycled to reduce toxic waste and to raise funds for victim services:
Domestic Violence - The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence(NCADV) collects cell phones to help fund their programs. They accept phones and partner with Cellular Recycler, which sells refurbished electronics.
Help Soldiers Call Home - Cell Phones for Soldiers collects old phones which it sells to a recycler or an electronic refurbisher, depending on the condition. It uses the proceeds to buy long distance calling cards, which are distributed to men and women who are serving in the military. Each phone donated buys about one hour of talk time for soldiers.
Support a Worthy Cause - Second Wave Recycling is actively funding the Wounded Warrior Project, which offers support services for military personnel who've been hurt while serving the U.S. This organization has supported other causes, too, including charities that benefit medical patients, domestic abuse survivors, animals rescues, and many others.
Help Keep Your Community Safer - Secure the Call is an organization that accepts used cell phones and then repurposes them as emergency-only devices meant to dial 911 dispatchers.
Improve Healthcare Around the World - Medic Mobile recycles and refurbishes old phones and tablets and uses the funds to buy mobile devices that medical workers use to register pregnancies, track disease outbreaks, and communicate about medical emergencies.
If they are in decent condition, you can donate them to the Lions Club.
If you have a broken pair lying around, you can pop out the glass lenses and recycle them with your other glass recycling. Then toss the broken frames in the trash!
Ask your local dry cleaners if they will take them
Many scrap metal recyclers will accept them since most are made of steel – search for your local recycling center here.
These are hard to recycle, so try donating them to your local school, daycare, shelter, nursing home, or hospital
These are higher quality, so charities and other thrift stores may accept them to resell as a set
If they are branded (Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc) you can offer them back to the store they came from
You can also try donating them to your local shelter, school or daycare facility
Regardless of the type of hanger, you can always try offering them up for free on Facebook Marketplace or your local neighborhood page!
A great way to dispose of costume jewelry (even broken!) is to donate to a charitable organization called I Have Wings Breast Cancer Foundation. They are dedicated to enriching the lives of families during a breast cancer diagnosis. Their committee takes the time to repair, clean and disinfect old costume jewelry to resell in order to raise funds.
CFL Light bulbs and Fluorescent Tubes:
These shouldn’t be thrown in the trash because they contain mercury
Recycle them at your local Lowes or Home Depot, or find a recycling center here. There are also organizations and websites like Recycleabulb that have return centers located in cities around the country that will happily take your old CFLs.
Standard and Halogen Light bulbs:
These can safely be thrown away in the trash
They cannot be recycled because the small wires and glass are hard to separate
These have an extremely long service life but can also be safely thrown away in the trash when they do eventually burn out
Here is more great information on recycling light bulbs.
Medicine take back options are the best way to safely dispose of most types of unneeded or expired prescriptions and over the counter medicines. There are generally two kinds of take back options:
DEA-authorized collectors - The DEA has provided a database of collection locations, or you can check with your local law enforcement officials to find a location near you. Large retail pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Meijer are all part of this community program.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day - The DEA hosts drug take back programs in communities nationwide. Find your local program here.
Before disposing of prescription medicines using a drug take back option, be sure to remove all personal information on the label of pill bottles or medicine packaging.
All medicines dropped off at these locations will be destroyed and discarded.
There are a few, select medicines with specific instructions to immediately flush down the toilet only if a drug take back option is not readily available.
If you are interested in donating your medication, use this online resource External Link Disclaimer to determine whether pharmaceutical donation and reuse programs exist in your state.
This prescription drug drop box is inside the main vestibule of the Fishers Police Department. Access to the vestibule is available 24/7.
Water-Based Latex Paint:
This type of paint has a shelf life of up to 10 years and is not considered hazardous waste. Once hardened or empty, residents are encouraged to remove the lid and place items in their curbside trash container for disposal.
Latex Paint Drying Instructions:
Remove lid from paint container.
Add kitty litter, oil dry, saw dust or soil to the latex paint.
Stir until paint has harden to an "oatmeal-like" consistency.
Place the uncovered container in a well-ventilated area away from children or pets and allow mixture to harden.
Place the container, with the dried paint, in your curbside trash with the lid off.
How do I know if my paint is latex?
Latex paint can be identified the following ways:
Read the Label: If clean-up instructions indicate that rollers & brushes can be cleaned using soap and water, it is typically latex or “water-based” paint. If the product is a solvent or “oil-based” paint, the instructions will likely indicate these items can be cleaned with mineral spirits or turpentine.
Water Test: Place paint in a small container with some water. If the paint is water-based, it will easily mix with the water and dissolve. Oil-based paint will separate from the water and form noticeable layers.
Please note, county residents are encouraged to dispose of their unwanted latex paint at home if possible. However, latex paint that has not been frozen or appears to still be in a usable condition can be brought to the HHW Drop Off Center for disposal or reuse.
This type of paint has a shelf life of up to 15 years. It is considered hazardous waste and must be taken to an appropriate disposal or drop-off center. Find a local recycling center here – just type “paint” into the search bar and enter your zip code! If you are a local resident of Hamilton County, you can drop off at our HHW Drop Off Center.
Bring them to a bag collection bin. It's not that used plastic bags and wraps can't be recycled into new materials – they simply require a different collection system and processing equipment than many curbside recycling programs provide. So please don't put plastic bags and wraps in your curbside bin if your recycling program says NO.
Most national grocery retailers, such as Safeway, Target, Kroger, and Walmart, will have a bag collection bin in the store. The bins are usually at the front entrance of the store, labeled “bag recycling.” Put the plastic bags in the collection bin to be recycled.
For a list of where to take or send donation items, please check out our Giving Back page for our suggested charities and foundations!
We hope this is helpful in your clean out endeavors! Some of the links will be helpful nationally and some just for our local clients. A great starting point is the Earth 911 Search. If you have questions about any other categories or items, please leave your comments below so that we can research for you!
I would love to see what you were able to recycle this Earth Day!
Remember to take pictures and tag us on Facebook or Instagram @thesimplelifeindy! Can’t wait to see what you've done for our future generations!
Happy Earth Day!