Blog: Carlita the Croc

The Recycling Catch-all Conundrum


 Help save gorilla's habitat, recycle your cell phone!

When asked what one is doing to help the environment, be it water conservation, climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, etc., most people say they are helping by recycling.  While recycling can help all of these issues, unfortunately it isn’t a magical solution that will fix all of our environmental problems if we all just participate.  Recycling puts a little relief on several issues:  water conservation, pollution, energy conservation/climate change and deforestation.  But to really have an impact, humans need to expand their recycling infrastructure, rethink the power grid, reconsider materials and be sure to reduce and reuse, too!  Of course, there needs to be a market for recycled materials, so don’t forget to buy recycled products!

One of the ways we can increase the impact of recycling is by expanding what we recycle.  Today, I have a list of five things you didn’t know you could recycle, but you should!

  1. Cell phones – Fortunately, cell phone recycling is becoming more common as more people use smartphones and the expanded functions make them more valuable.  However, the disposal of mobile devices is creating an electronic waste or “e-waste” problem.  One of the elements of cell phones, smart phones, and other electronics is coltan which helps to regulate the electrical charge.  Coltan is mined from the mountains of central Africa, right in the heart of gorilla habitat.  Not to mention mining is very environmentally destructive and often comes with inhumane working conditions.

So if you’re not already recycling your old mobile phones, it’s time to start!  Check with your cell phone provider, as they may accept old phones and accessories.  Heck, you may even be able to buy your next smartphone as refurbished for a cheaper price!  Bring your old mobile device to Brookfield Zoo next time you visit, because of course, you can recycle it here! 

  1. Holiday lights – It’s a holiday tradition:  Pull out the decorations and untangle the string of lights only to find they don’t work.  No need to toss them in the trash!  Some big-box home improvement stores accept old Christmas lights, and some even give you a coupon towards new lights!  You can also check to see if your or a nearby community accepts old holiday lights for recycling.  (Tuck this one in your pocket for the holidays.)

Your local hardware store can recycle old holiday lights!

  1. CFL light bulbs – This one is a must.  CFL light bulbs are about 75% more energy efficient than incandescent and last much longer, so you won’t go through as many bulbs.  However, when one does burn out, it is important to appropriately recycle them and not just throw them in the garbage.  CFL bulbs have small amounts of mercury in them which need to be disposed of or repurposed safely.  But almost every part of a CFL can be recycled, so why not take advantage?  Many hardware stores will accept CFL bulbs for recycling, so you shouldn’t have to go far! 

Recycling CFL' bulbs, what a bright idea!

  1. Mattresses – From what I understand, mattresses bring humans lots of comfort and joy.  They are made of wood, springs, memory foam, latex, fabric, cloud, and more.  That’s a lot a material to just leave in the alley once you’re done with it!  If you’ve got a new mattress on the way, ask your retailer if they will take your old mattress for recycling.  If they don’t, you can search for companies in your area that will take mattresses for recycling, such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK

That pillow top mattress will be much better off recycled than laying in your alley!

  1. Gym shoes – You probably know that donating shoes that are still in decent condition is an option.  But did you know that you can RECYCLE gym shoes that have their fair share of holes and frays??  Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe takes in any brand of worn out gym shoe and recycles it into material for Nike equipment and apparel.  You can take your old pair of shoes to almost any Nike store for recycling. 

Sneakers-PD_937x527.jpg Don't toss your old gym shoes, recycle them!

Adapting recycling behaviors outside of just recycling your aluminum and plastic at home will go a long way in having an impact on clean waterways and fewer landfills.  Next stop:  Change the grid that powers to recycling plants to renewable energy and you’ll really be cooking with gas!  WHO’S WITH ME?

Posted: 6/27/2016 12:22:55 PM by

Carlita the Croc

I'm Carlita the Croc, here to deliver my candid views on various topics, articles, news, and stories in conservation. For the latest news follow me on Twitter, for striking photos follow me on Instagram.


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