04 Feb Recycling Odd Items
I realize that it can be difficult to remember what you can and cannot recycle. In this blog post, I’ll focus on more odd items you don’t dispose of daily, but need to be properly recycled.
Wine corks: Most Whole Foods Markets will take corks to recycle (and you can check with other local grocers). You simply bring these to the customer service desk in a bag or container, and they’ll take care of the rest. That is, unless you’re planning to use all those corks for a crafting project a la Pinterest!
Medications/Vitamins: Believe it or not, medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) must be properly disposed of. Flushing them down the toilet or placing them in the trash will ensure they leech into our soil/water, which is a big no-no! You must recycle meds and vitamins by taking them to your local sheriff’s office. If you live in San Mateo County, you can drop these at the Redwood City Courthouse (400 County Center; 3rd floor). Remove all pills from their plastic containers (recycle those with your household recyclables) and place mixed pills in a Ziplock bag. Liquid medications can be left in the bottles, which can be placed in the same bag as the pills. Another option would be to call your doctor and ask them where you can recycle meds in your area.
Sharps: Medical sharps like hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, and lancets must be recycled as well. If you are a diabetic or regularly use needles for medical injections (for you or an animal) you should have a plastic container to house them. If not, you should create your own rigid puncture-resistant container that, when sealed, is leak resistant and cannot be reopened without great difficulty. You’ll need to do a bit of research to find out the best way to recycle these in your area. Some fire or police departments will take these for recycling. You can also check with your doctor/vet or local pharmacy, but understand there might be a small fee for recycling these. In San Mateo County, you can bring these to the Household Hazardous Waste Program and drop in their bin (you do not need an appointment to do this) free of charge.
Styrofoam: You’ll have to check with your local recycling center, but San Mateo County does not recycle Styrofoam. San Francisco does – but you have to be a resident within the city limits. I recommend finding a recycling center that will take the items, but this may be at a small fee. Green Citizen in Mountain View has a machine that returns the Styrofoam (plastic puffed with air) back into plastic so it can be recycled. They charge $5 per 30-gallon bag. While it will cost you a small fee, it is worth disposing of this pesky material the right way. While it can be incredibly messy, breaking down the Styrofoam allows more to fit in a 30-gallon bag (just have a broom and vacuum nearby).
Black Plastic: San Mateo County cannot recycle black plastic, but San Francisco can. You’ll have to check with your county or nearby counties to see if you can recycle it, if not, it is ok to throw this in the trash.
Plastic Bags: You can return these to most grocery stores, even in counties that no longer allow the use/sale of plastic bags. Whole Foods has cardboard containers where you can recycle your plastic bags (ranging from take-out bags to shopping bags to Ziplock bags – any clear or opaque plastic bag really).
Be conscious when you’re out and about. In California, a lot of chains (Starbucks/Whole Foods) have compost and recycle options next to trashcans. Place the proper items in the proper bins and start making recycling/composting a regular habit.
Bottom line: do what you can to recycle items instead of sending them straight to a landfill! Start with at least one of these categories and eventually introduce another. If we each make a small effort to lessen our trash footprint, we’ll start to make a difference for future generations.