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5 Things You're Not Recycling But Should

Paper, plastic and glass are easy -- just toss them in the recycling bin. A lot of things that cycle through our lives are not as easy to deal with. Did you know that the EPA estimates that 75 percent of solid waste is recyclable, but only about 30 percent is actually recycled!? Here are some everyday household items that you might not know you can recycle -- and how to properly dispose of them.

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Photography by: Johnny Miller

1. Food Scraps

Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food of food over the course of a year, according to the USDA. Think about how often you have leftovers that sit for days (or worse, weeks) in the fridge before they're thrown out into the trash. If your food scraps end up in the landfill, they're compacted down with other trash and no longer exposed to air. So the food never decomposes and remains in the landfill for years and years. Recycle food scraps by composting them at home. Follow our instructions so nothing from the kitchen ever goes to waste again.

 

 

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2. Used Batteries

If the batteries in your television remote or flashlight no longer work, don't throw them away. Batteries often contain heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium and nickel, which can contaminate the soil and water supply if thrown in regular trash and added to landfills. For small batteries, you can find recycling bins at many electronics stores or perhaps in your community, if it offers special collection events. Even car batteries can be recycled by taking them to auto supply stores.

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Photography by: Burcu Avsar

3. Old Smartphones and Computers

Technology tends to have a shelf life. After a few years, it can completely stop working. Instead of tossing that unusable laptop in the trash or letting it collect dust in the back of the closet, search for electronics stores that offer recycling of old smartphones, laptops, and televisions. You'll need to make sure that all of your personal information is deleted from the electronic item and you'll have to ask about the specifics for dropping your item off at the store before you bring it in. Some types of electronics can't be dropped off at the store for recycling and require a special pickup.

 

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner

4. Cosmetics

Those empty lip balm tubes and blush compacts don't look so pretty in the trash can. Instead, you can participate in a special recycling program offered by Terracycle to ensure that those empty cosmetic bottles don't end up in a landfill. The program is as simple as signing up, boxing the items and shipping them with a Terracycle label. It is only available in the continental United States (sorry, Alaska and Hawaii.)

 

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Photography by: Mike Krautter

5. Aluminum and Metals

Don't throw that soup can in the trash. According to Waste Management, Inc., Americans dispose of 2.7 million tons of aluminum a year. Steel and tin cans can also be recycled, and that saves an additional 75 percent of energy that would've been used to create steel from raw materials. So, gather your cans and take them to the nearest scrap yard or recycling facility. Some places will even pay you for the metal!

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