21 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle

     Garbage. Americans produce more and more of it every year, when we need to be producing less. Even the most waste-conscious among us can feel overwhelmed by the amount of household waste that goes beyond what municipal recyclers and compost bins can handle. We’ve spent a lot of time investigating the state of waste management in our country, so we can explain how to get serious about the three R’s – reducing, reusing, and recycling — and divert more waste away from landfills. (To download the entire recycling issue of Green American, visit our archives page.)

1. Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances, or you can contact the Steel Recycling Instituteto recycle them.

2. Batteries: Try Battery Solutions to buy a product to put batteries in to ship away. Staples also has a national battery recycling program for individuals or your office. Some Ikea stores have recycling stations for them as well.

3. Cardboard boxes: Contact local nonprofits and women’s shelters to see if they can use them. Or, offer up used cardboard boxes at your local Freecycle.org listserv or on Craigslist.org for others who may need them for moving or storage. If your workplace collects at least 100 boxes or more each month, UsedCardboardBoxes.com accepts them for resale.

4. CDs/DVDs/Game Disks: Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs, and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to CDFixers for refinishing, and they’ll work like new.

5. Clothes: Wearable clothes can go to your local Goodwill outlet or shelter. Donate wearable women’s business clothing to Dress for Success, which gives them to low-income women as they search for jobs. Offer unwearable clothes and towels to local animal boarding and shelter facilities, which often use them as pet bedding. Consider holding a clothes swap at your office, school, faith congregation or community center. Swap clothes with friends and colleagues, and save money on back-to-school clothes, Halloween costumes, or any season you want.

6. Compact fluorescent bulbs: Call your local Ikea store–many have units for recycling florescent bulbs, along with batteries and conventional recyclables. Earth911 has a great tool where you can enter your recyclable and zip code and it will give you a list of places that will accept that item.

7. Compostable bio-plastics: Compostable bioplastics include those cornstarch utensils and specially marked cups, which won’t break down quickly in your home compost bin like your food scraps do. Find a Composter has a tool for finding municipal composters for these types of items.

8. Computers and electronics: E-Stewards has a tool for finding responsible recyclers for computing waste which can be toxic and hard to break down.

9. Exercise videos: If you’ve done the same workouts a million times, swap them with others at Video Fitness. If you’re done with them forever, contact your closest e-waste station and see if they will accept them. Policies change frequently and the magnetic tape in VHS makes them particularly difficult to recycle.

10. Eyeglasses: Your local Lion’s Club or eye care chain may collect these. Lenses are reground and given to people in need. Often eye doctors’ offices will collect them, or even local libraries. Glasses are most often donated as-is to someone with a similar perscription. Reading glasses and non-perscription sunglasses can often be donated as well.

11. Foam packing: Your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept foam peanuts for reuse. Or, call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers.

12. Ink/toner cartridges: Recycleplace.org will pay a few cents for your old ink cartridges, up to $1 depending on the brand. If you bring your old cartridges to Staples, they will give you a $2 voucher you can use towards your new ink.

13. Oil: When the oil is being changed in your car, it can be re-refined and made into motor lubricants and other petroleum products. Earth911 has a tool to find which autoshops you can use to recycle oil in your zip code.

14. Phones: HopeLine is a program to provide cell phones to domestic violence survivors. Bring them to a Verizon or mail them in to donate. Office phones and corded phones can be recycled through Staples or another e-waste recycler.

15. Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet or at Goodwill.

16. “Technotrash”: Staples’ e-waste program will take iPods, MP3 players, cell phones and chargers, digital cameras, PDAs, palm pilots, and more. Also, easily recycle all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs, and ink/toner cartridges with GreenDisk’s Technotrash program. For $11.95, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box (or you can use your own) in which you can ship them up to 25 pounds of any of the above. Your fee covers the box as well as shipping and recycling fees.

17. Athletic and other shoes: MORE takes donations of lightly used running shoes which are resold to fund sustainable farming programs. Soles4Souls was founded after Hurricane Katrina, which gives shoes as a measure of disaster relief and to create micro-enterprises with a low cost product.

18. Toothbrushes and razors: Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from Preserve, a brand sold in many pharmacy stores as well as online. The company makes its products out of Stonyfield Farms yogurt cups and will take back its products to be made into plastic lumber. Bins that collect these and other products with the number 5 recycling symbol are collected in Preserve’s Gimme 5 bins, which are placed in 250 locations nationwide. They can also be sent in by mail.

19. Tyvek envelopes: Those tough, plasticky envelopes you get in the mail, those are Tyvek. The material is broken down and made into new plastics without consuming more oil resources. Quantities less than 25: Send to CFS Recycling, 337 A Industrial Drive, Petersburg, VA 23803. Quantities larger than 25, call 1-800/44-TYVEK.

20. Miscellaneous stuff: Get your unwanted items into the hands of people who can use them. Offer them up on your local Freecycle.org or Craigslist.org listserv.

21. Crayons: If you have broken crayons, or old mis-matched ones that are missing the box, send them to Crazy Crayons. This program collects crayons from around the country, melts them down, and sells 100% recycled crayons (in cute shapes and containers, too!).

Winter Months at R.H. Willson

Hope everyone had a good holiday, but now we are getting back to the day to day. After vacation time and the holidays it is hard enough to get back to the swing of things. You eat so much more on the holidays, and you get to stay inside and relax. After those nice days reality comes and hits you in the face. You are back to work with no holiday break coming up for awhile. It also gets colder after Christmas. It is now freezing out, and the snow is piling up as we speak.  Everyone is back to work, but now we have to deal with the snow. It happens every winter in New England, but no one is ever truly ready for it.

R.H. Willson is open year round, rain or shine. That is what this month’s blog post is going to be about, the working conditions of the salvage yard in the winter months. The staff at R. H. Willson is committed to their customers.

Every time that it snows out, we have to clean the entire yard. The driveways need to be plowed and salted multiple times for our customers to safely enter and exit. A couple days later, we back plow the driveways. We use the loader with a plow on it because there is a lot of area to be covered. Back plowing is when we scrap the leftover snow and slush by dragging the plow backwards on the driveways. The building’s roofs and the cars all need to be shoveled. There are over 2,000 cars located at R. H. Willson so not all of them get shoveled off, but to sell the parts off the cars we need to be able to see the car. The crusher down back gets shoveled and whatever else it needs so it does not freeze. The building is concrete and metal so it takes awhile for the building to heat up, but all the heat comes from the recycled oil that goes into the furnace that recycles oil, which we talked about in another blog post. This is just what we go through with the equipment, but now we can talk about what the employees go through to get those parts.

The employees dress very warmly because the temperatures can get below zero. When someone goes out to get a part, they have to shovel off the cars and shovel the path to get to a certain vehicle. They do whatever is necessary to get to the car, but then they have to remove the part in the freezing temperatures with their bulky gloves and gear. This is just a normal routine for the staff because they have to get the parts for the customers.

Snow is snow, and there is a lot of it in New England during the winter months but we never know what the employees at business go through getting the inventory they need.

Every business is different, but you should take some time and think about how much really goes into getting a side mirror off a car in the dead of winter when there is a snow storm. These are the conditions that are inevitable, but we still have to work through them and produce the inventory necessary to sell.

This is just talking about the winter months, but every season has its obstacles for working indoor or outdoor. There are different precautions to take depending on the month and season. So take a moment and reflect because you never know what a business has to do to for even small parts.

A different approach then the normal blogs but with winter sometimes it is a good idea to discuss different situations that happen while working at any business especially salvage yards.

The Salvage Yard

     This month’s blog post is about R. H. Willson. The past blog posts focused on different ways that the salvage yard recycles.  There are always more ways and more items to recycle, but I just wanted to have this month’s post focus on the business.

     My grandfather opened this business in 1954. He started off by selling auto parts. Overtime the business grew to have up to three different buildings. Down the road my parents bought the business in 1996 and expanded even further. In 1998 they started an auto repair on the premises. Bringing in different customers and staying competitive in the industry. One big change was computerizing everything. Changing all the paperwork from pen and paper to computer generated slips. That was a big change for the industry and everyone working here. Overtime people learned to love computers because it made work faster and more organized. With the help of the computers, the parts industry expanded. Now people can buy their parts online, over the phone, or walking in. The expansion was a necessary progression, but there were other avenues the salvage yard also explored.

     The auto repair was another great expansion to the business.  Fixing cars and buying parts go hand in hand allowing for our customers to have faster service. Eventually we expanded by getting more mechanics, which allowed us to help more customers.

     Another aspect of R. H. Willson is town towing and picking up junk cars. The town towing allows us to be involved in the town and get exposure by doing it. It is very convenient because if a car needs to get fixed, there is an auto repair on the premises to fix the car. As I said in the beginning of the paragraph, we also pick up junk cars, which lead us to our last point.

     Not too long ago, the business got a scale for scrap metal. You come to the salvage yard and drive over the scale, which weighs how much the metal is. It opened up another avenue of the business completely. People bring their scrap metal here, and we pick up junked cars for scrap metal. Getting rid of the excess metal in people’s houses or business helps the environment and our salvage yard.

     R. H. Willson is constantly improving and making adjustments so we can better help our customers. We have been opened since 1954; I hope there will be many more wonderful years of being innovative for this salvage yard and all salvage yards out there.

Recycle, Recycle, and Recycle

     This month’s blog post I want to focus on RECYCLING, but more importantly all the good R.H. Willson continues to do. For the September post I will not be explaining how the salvage yard recycles yet another liquid or part; I want to take some time to reflect on all the past posts, instead. Take the time for people to really understand all the good salvage yards do.

     The past five months I wrote about many different avenues that the salvage yard uses to recycle. Let me refresh your memory with a few, R. H. Willson recycles whole cars for scrap metal, gasoline, antifreeze, car parts, and lots more. These are just a few, which inadvertently do not even begin to skim the top of the surface, when it comes to how much the salvage yard really recycles.

     The word recycling has many definitions, but the one that pertains to our topic in hand is “to treat or process (used or waste materials)  so as to make suitable for reuse” (dictionary.com, 1). With that definition in mind, just think about how many times this establishment takes one item and reuses it for its exact purpose or for another completely different purpose.

     Even though I have not specifically dedicated a blog post to the recycling of oil, which spoil alert is going to be next month’s blog post, I would like to mention a fact that R.H. Willson uses the oil from the junked cars to heat the building. We do not allow the oil to leak from the car; but we use it for another purpose, which is cost-effective for the business and better for the environment. Using the definition from above, this is a prime example of re-using something for another purpose. Another example would be with last month’s blog post about recycled car parts because artists come to our specific salvage yard or any salvage yards and buy the parts for their art work. Taking the old and forgotten and turning it into new and beautiful masterpieces!!

     No matter what people think salvage yards have been around for a very long time. They may not have had the specific title of salvage or junk yard, but there has always been places where people brought their old or junked cars to spend their remaining days. There has always been a place for people to get auto parts or get their cars fixed. I do not want to say that every salvage yard recycles and goes above and beyond to protect the environment of their business because that is not true, but R.H. Willson does!

     People give salvage yards bad reputations and think if they know one salvage yard they know them all, but that is not true. We have been recycling a long time before people even started worrying about being green and knew what recycling really is. Recycling to this salvage yard is just the way we have always done things there. If you take pride in your business, then everything about it is going to be run in a clean and effective way. Do not just judge a book by its cover, but actually take time to read the book and understand it. Salvage yards are innovators, thinkers of their time and the future to come!

Works Cited

http://www.dictionary.com/

Are you a Safe Winter Driver?

For all of us that live in New England we know what an actual snowstorm is. But despite living in one of the snowiest places in the USA, many of us don’t know how to drive in the snow. For many, the thought of driving in weather other than sunny is scary, and we want to help. So we found this awesome info-grahpic from http://www.edgarsnyder.com/infographics/winter-driving-infographic.html. This is for everyone, because honestly who couldn’t benefit from a couple of tips?