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Recycling 102: Expanding Your Recycling Knowledge

Updated on September 20, 2011
Photo by Leah Ireland
Photo by Leah Ireland

Part 2 of a three part series, this article is meant to educate those people who are interested in expanding their recycling knowledge. It is crucial for society today to make the daily changes in their lifestyle necessary for a greener, healthier tomorrow. Particularly Americans who, consisting of only of 5 percent of the world's people, create 40 percent of the world's total trash (A Recycling Revolution).

Learning how to properly dispose of the lesser known recyclables is extremely important. Many of these items are hazardous to the environment, and often leach harmful chemicals into soil and water supply.

One of the best resources available for information on recycling is Just type in what you want to recycle, and it will show you the nearest facility that accepts that item.

Listed below are the lesser known recyclables. Many require more effort to recycle, but it is well worth the time for those who wish to live a greener lifestyle.

Aerosol Cans

These pesky cans became famous in the 70's for releasing harmful chemicals that depleted the ozone layer. Since then, countries have issued regulations that no longer allow aerosol cans to be produced with such chemicals. However, they still produce hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to your carbon footprint (The Editors of E Magazine).

Be sure to assuage some of the green guilt that comes with using aerosol cans by properly recycling them. Many scrap metal yards and disposal sites accept them for recycling.


  • Rechargeable Batteries (includes cell phone and laptop batteries, etc.)
  • Single Use Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are by far the greener choice when it comes to batteries. Not only are they easier to dispose of, as most stores like Lowe's, Home Depot and Staples accept them for recycling, but choosing something you can reuse is always the better choice.

There are over 80,000 tons of single use alkaline batteries thrown away in the US each year, making 20% of the total hazardous household materials in our landfills ("The Dangers of Household Garbage"). Single use batteries are more difficult to recycle. While there are not many drop off facilities, there are still several companies who have mail in programs.


Electronic materials consists of anything that has a plug or uses power. Computers, televisions, kitchen appliances, office machines, stereos, phones, and even some toys would be considered electronics. These items are accepted at most electronic recycling facilities.

Before recycling working materials, try donating to your local charity for reuse. Some companies specialize in repurposing old electronics to give to those who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

Photo by Leah Ireland
Photo by Leah Ireland

Light Bulbs

  • Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL)

Unfortunately regular incandescent light bulbs are not part of any recycling program that I have been able to find, however, they are much less worrisome in landfills than CFL light bulbs.

CFL light bulbs are extremely toxic to our environment if not disposed of properly. They contain mercury, which leaches into our soil and water supply when left in landfills. CFLs have fast become one of the most hazardous household products in the U.S. today. Ironically thought to be the "green" option, if not responsibly managed, they could end up doing more polluting than traditional incandescent bulbs. In fact, they have been found to produce radio frequency radiation, as well as ultraviolet radiation (Dr. Magda Havas).

You can recycle your CFLs at most large chain stores that sell them, such as Home Depot, Lowe's or Ikea.

Motor Oil

It has been made illegal in many states to dump used motor oil in landfills. Just one pint of motor oil can create a one-acre size oil slick on a lake or river, blocking sunlight and killing many of the marine organisms ("Used Motor Oil Recycling").

Most transfer sites, or automotive stores will accept oil for recycling. Be sure to check and see if they also accept used oil filters as well as plastic motor oil bottles.


Most disposal sites, as well as stores such as Walmart accept used tires for recycling. Many new products can be made from recycled rubber, and it is well worth conserving the oil that would otherwise be used to make new rubber products. Worldwide, there is 1 billion tires thrown away each year, 300 million from the U.S. alone ("Sustainability").

In today's world, it is critical for people to begin a lifelong change. We must make choices that takes the environment which supports us into consideration. Learning to recycle as a part of our daily lives is crucial for maintaining a healthy, happy, and greener tomorrow for our children as well as for ourselves.

Photo by Leah Ireland
Photo by Leah Ireland

Work Cited:

A Recycling Revolution. Web. 27 Aug. 2011.

Dr. Magda Havis, PHD. "Energy Efficient Light and Health." Environmental Studies Research Papers.10 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Sept. 2011.

Editors of E Magazine. "Aerosol Cans: Are they OK to use now?" The Christian Science Monitor. 19 Sept. 2008. Web. 1 Sept. 2011.

"Sustainability." Lehigh Technologies. Web. 2 Sept. 2011.

"The Dangers of Household Garbage." Pioneer Thinking. 2002. Web. 2 Sept. 2011.

"Used Motor Oil Recycling." DHEC's Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling. Web 1 Sept. 2011.


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    • summerclark7387 profile image

      summerclark7387 5 years ago from Beautiful Southern Oregon

      Ah not the guilts! Those are the worst LOL. That is awesome that you live off the grid LongTimeMother, that is a goal that my significant other and I dream of when we finally have property. :)

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 5 years ago from Australia

      I have the guilts now because I own one CFL light, a horticultural lamp I use for growing plants indoors during the winter. All my others are LED.

      However, I avoid aerosol cans like the plague, and I recycle my motor oil by painting it on my formwork when building rammed earth walls. Plus I use rechargeable batteries for just about everything and charge them with solar power because I live off the grid.

      Still feeling guilty about my CFL lamp though!

    • summerclark7387 profile image

      summerclark7387 6 years ago from Beautiful Southern Oregon

      Thanks kitty! I had the same problem yesterday with that button, but it seems to still work because it says you are my follower :)

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Voted up and awesome. Great info. on recycling. Hey, I'm trying to follow you but, weirdly enough, the "follow" button on your profile page won't let me click it! I know that sounds crazy, right? I may post to the help forums about it.

    • summerclark7387 profile image

      summerclark7387 6 years ago from Beautiful Southern Oregon

      Thanks Pdxrecycler! I came across a lot of cool info while researching this article. Earth 911 is an amazing source for all things recycling. :) Thanks for the feedback

    • Pdxrecycler profile image

      Pdxrecycler 6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      This is great. I didn't know that Walmart accepts tires, very cool!