How Do I Get Rid Of This??

Paint? Appliances? Plastic Bags? What do you do with these items that you know you can’t leave on your curb and have the neighborhood recycle guy pick them up. Here are a few tips to help you get rid of them without hurting the environment.

Plastic Bags?

According to various recycling facilities, plastic bags are by far the top aggravation because not only do they waste time when they get stuck in the machines, but they can also break or damage the equipment.

What should I do? If you absolutely cannot find any use for plastic bags around the house, the easiest way to dispose of plastic bags is to take them to a grocery store to be recycled properly.
Tip: Bagging recyclables with plastic bags before you toss them in the bin causes even bigger problems since workers have to tear open the bag and risk being exposed to potentially dangerous substances. Some facilities won’t allow employees to open bags, so all of your recyclables wind up in the garbage.

Plastic Bottle Lids and Caps?

Plastic bottle caps actually have a different melting point than plastic bottles so they can’t be recycled together. So, always remove the caps before recycling the bottles!

What should I do? You can toss the cap in your regular household trash or take them to a place that will recycle them for you such as Whole Foods or Aveda


Paint cans should not be put in the curbside-recycling bin because they are not a food grade material.

What should I do? First, try to use up all of the paint if possible so there is no more than 1/4-inch of paint left in the bottom of the can. Let the paint can dry out by leaving the lid off before recycling it. When the can is empty (and completely dry), it is accepted as a scrap metal item and should be put in a scrap metal bin at a local drop-off facility.

Computers and Electronics?

Digital cameras, TVs, computers, printers, MP3 players, DVDs, cell phones and chargers, CDs, video and audio tapes, ink cartridges and other electronics that aren’t being used anymore are known as “technotrash.” Some of these items contain harmful components like mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, and brominated flame-retardants.

What should I do? Many manufacturers and retailers provide options to donate or recycle your electronics. AT&T, Best Buy, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, eBay, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Office Depot, Samsung, Sony and Verizon, for example, all offer recycling programs for consumers (as do plenty others). You can also find a local program through one of the many comprehensive websites devoted to helping consumers dispose of their electronics responsibly. Check out EcoSquid, Earth911, and DigitalTips for more information.


Old appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, and freezers release refrigerants, insulating foams and other harmful agents into the atmosphere such as CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs and mercury. These old appliances often end up in our landfills.

What should I do? To avoid fines up to $25,000 by the EPA, you must properly dispose of your old appliances. You can usually arrange to have the old appliance picked up when you purchase a new one. Many appliance dealers have programs available under which they haul and dispose of your old appliance at no additional cost. If you can’t find someone to take an old appliance off your hands, find out the rules in your area so that you can dispose of it at your local recycling plant properly.

Tip: Always donate appliances that are in good working order by contacting your local Salvation Army or Goodwill to find out exactly where to drop off your appliances. You may also be eligible for a tax break by donating.

Adhesives and Glue?

Products like adhesives and glues contain solvents and other toxic chemicals. When disposed of in their original form, their ingredients can contaminate your garbage and have the potential to seep into the environment.

What should I do? If you have a small amount of adhesive, open the container and let it dry. For larger amounts, spread the adhesive in thin layers on cardboard or newspapers. If the adhesive is in a tube, slit the tube for drying. For two-part adhesives, mix them together before letting them dry. When the adhesive has hardened, you can safely place it in the trash.

Food-Contaminated Containers?

Containers that prepared foods come in, such as pizza boxes and take-out containers, cannot be recycled. During the recycling process, it is impossible to separate the paper fibers of these containers from the oils and other food particles that soil the containers.  The same is true for paper plates, cups and napkins. Additionally, any container that has been coated to add strength contains contaminants and is not recyclable (i.e. any foiled, glossy, glazed, waxed, glassine, or lacquer-coated packages such as chip bags, candy wrappers and juice boxes).

What should I do? These items must go into the household trash. Containers such as cereal boxes, egg cartons and cake mix boxes can be recycled, as long as they are not soiled and don’t have the plastic coating or a layer of foil inside.


Mirrors are made of heat-strengthened material. They melt at a higher temperature than regular glass items, so, during the standard recycling process, they will not melt properly and could contaminate the finished product.

What should I do? Donate old mirrors to your local thrift shop!

Old Linens?

Laws often restrict both the refurbishment and the resale of used mattresses and box springs, and other bedding for health reasons.

What should I do? Bring old linens – even if they are ripped or stained – to animal shelters to be used for animal bedding.

Please let us know if you have any new and creative ways to keep these items out of landfills. We would love to heat from you!

Thank you to ivillage for these wonderful ideas!

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