Recycling BinsBy Lori Bongiorno
You already know if newspapers, tin cans, or plastic bottles get picked up on your curb for recycling, but what about similar items?
Chances are phone books, aluminum foil, and other hard-to-know-what-to-do-with items can be mixed in with your curbside recycling.
Every town has different rules so you'll need to check with your local waste or sanitation department to find out the specifics for your area.
In most cases, it's easier to recycle these five unexpected items than you might think.
- Phone books. If your city takes mixed paper, then phonebooks can generally be recycled, according to Jennifer Berry at Earth911. Be sure to remove magnetic inserts or any other non-paper elements before you toss. Has the Internet rendered the yellow pages obsolete in your home? You can choose not to have directories delivered in the first place or limit how many you receive. Here are 17 creative things to do with phone books for those who prefer to reuse or can't easily recycle.
- Aluminum foil. It's just as recyclable as aluminum cans, but not accepted by all municipal programs. Check with your local waste department before you throw foil in with your metals. Make sure it's clean first. Many people wash foil off with soap and water and reuse it for storing food. Or try crumpling up old foil and throwing it in the clothes dryer to reduce static cling.
- Aerosol cans. You can include EMPTY aerosol cans with other metals. If it has any product in it don't toss it in your bin. Ask your local recycling center if they'll accept partially filled cans or bring them to your local hazardous waste facility.
- Labels. Labels aren't a problem on bottles and cans, says Berry, because recycling facilities are already set up to handle them so no extra steps are needed. It's also okay to throw slightly dirty glass, plastic, and metal containers into your bin. So don't let that lime wedge or last bit of peanut butter stop you from tossing a container into your recycling bin.
- Metal clothes hangers. Some communities, such as New York City, Phoenix, Houston, and Portland, OR, accept metal clothes hangers in curbside bins. In most cities there are plenty of recycling centers where you can drop them off. Better yet, bring them back to your local dry cleaner so hangers can be reused.
Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.