If there is one thing that I hope you have taken away from my posts this past year, it is the encouragement to bear in mind that, as conscious consumers, spirited women can be best guided by the "3 R's"—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Yes, in that order.
The most effective way to minimize your contributions to the landfill is to REDUCE your consumption. Before you buy something new, ask yourself if you truly must have it. If you can't do without, then consider borrowing the item or acquiring one gently used from family, friends, yard sales, thrift stores, eBay, Craigslist or Freecycle. You can also REUSE your now unwanted items through these same channels.
When you do buy a new product, remember: the less packaging and virgin raw materials, the better. Look for products/packing made from recycled materials first to help close the sustainability loop, followed by eco-sourced, organic and fair trade products. Following the above guidelines, we can keep the third "R"—RECYCLE—as the last resort it should be.
Last week, I passed along a few helpful recycling tips for curbside collection of paper, cans, bottles and similar household items. This week, here is a list of online resources to help you find places to recycle a wide variety of other products.
Athletic Shoes - Did you know that Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program collects all brands of used athletic shoes (without metal or cleats) and grinds them up to make rubber playing fields, synthetic court surfaces and hardwood padding for donations to communities worldwide? How cool is that?
Batteries - Battery Solutions, GreenDisk, Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, Waste Management, Inc.'s Think Green from Home – recycle batteries, fluorescent tubes and light bulbs by mail. Many local collections exist for household and vehicular batteries, including municipal facilities, hardware stores, camera stores and chain drug stores. Contact your city or county offices for more information or search at Earth 911.
Books - Used textbooks and hardcovers are not recyclable because of their binding glue. The good news is, there are several organizations will accept books for donations: Books Behind Bars for U.S. inmates, Books for Africa sends primary through post-secondary textbooks to partner organizations in Africa. Books for the Barrios collects books for schoolchildren in the Philippines. Darien Book Aid Plan, Inc. distributes free books in response to specific requests from Peace Corps volunteers, libraries and schools around the world, in addition to U.S. libraries, prisons, hospitals and Native American and Appalachian groups. Follett Educational Services buys and sells used textbooks 10 years old or less for primary and secondary grade levels.