Think Green

Recycling is the process by which materials are collected and repurposed. That can be done by reusing materials at home or collecting plastics, glass, paper products, and metals for bulk recycling at a facility that deconstructs and purifies waste and then turns it into new products. Recycling reduces energy consumption and landfill volume, which keeps Earth clean, beautiful, and healthy.

Recyclable items

Aluminum – On average, Americans use 320 million aluminum cans per day. Unfortunately, less than half of those are recycled. It takes nearly ¾ less energy to make a recycled can into a new can than sourcing raw materials. If every person in America recycled their aluminum cans, that could save enough energy to equal $48 million a year in electricity costs. That’s enough to power 1 million televisions for 960 hours.

Paper products – Paper products, including magazines, cardboard, phonebooks, and junk mail, can find a new purpose when recycled. These items, along with discarded juice boxes and office paper, can be transformed into paper towels, writing paper, and chipboard – the heavy brown material used at the back of notepads and cereal boxes.

Glass – Glass is one of the only products that can be recycled endlessly but unfortunately accounts for 5% of all garbage in the United States. Recycled glass costs less to melt and reform than new glass costs to make from raw materials. You can recycle three primary types of glass: Flint, Amber, and Emerald. Each type of glass offers different benefits and is usually recycled in separate batches. Certain types of glass, such as mirror and window glass, are not recyclable.

Plastic – Plastic lunch containers, bottles, and packaging material are all examples of plastics that you can recycle. Most recyclable plastics include a Resin Identification Code with a corresponding RIC number. Plastic containers for everyday household items are typically coded 1 – 7. These items are usually accepted by curbside recycling services and can be melted and remolded into drinking bottles, laundry detergent containers, egg cartons, and foam packaging. Plastic is not biodegradable and poses a massive environmental threat when sent to a landfill.

Batteries – Most people are unaware that their old car, household, and rechargeable batteries are recyclable. Car batteries are recycled for their lead content which is used to create new batteries. Most automotive retailers keep dead car batteries for recycling.

Electronics – The vast majority of electronics comprise the same basic materials: glass, metal, plastic, and copper. Nearly 100% of electronics can be recycled into new electronic items. In the United States alone, approximately 130,000 computers are dumped into landfills each year, wasting valuable renewable resources. In addition to computers, office equipment, televisions, and cellular phones are all recyclable.

Repurpose vs. recycle

Is it better to repurpose items or to recycle them? That is a difficult question to answer. However, a good rule of thumb is that items that cannot be used for their intended purpose should be bulk recycled. You can repurpose some items in new and exciting ways.

Items to repurpose

Wood pallets - Wooden pallets ship large items via track or transit. They are large, durable, and coveted among DIY crafters. Wooden pallets are often repurposed into furniture and shelving.

Paint cans – Paint cans cannot be recycled and are typically not accepted by waste collection services. They make excellent flowerpots, wall shelves, and shoe racks and can be transformed into funky lawn décor.

Plastic bottles – Although you can traditionally, plastic bottles also make excellent irrigation systems, seed starters, and craft components. You can transform plastic bottles into jewelry stands, outdoor candle holders, and birdfeeders. Sizeable plastic milk jugs can also create recyclable children’s toys, including masks, dollhouses, and pool toys.

Windows and doors – Old windows can be repurposed into beautiful works of art, including picture frames, outdoor mirrors, and tabletops. With ingenuity and mounting hardware, an old window can become a living room focal point instead of a landfill eyesore.

Cooking utensils – Used stainless steel forks, spoons, ladles, and spatulas can be transformed into various shabby chic jewelry, candleholders, and another décor. Cast-iron skillets and old aluminum bakeware can be cleaned and hung in a kitchen as a unique and meaningful embellishment for bare walls.

at TN Wholesale Nursery, we recycle all we can.