I know, I know. Enough with the Earth Day preachiness already. I fully understand that you may well be sick and tired of hearing people tell you about all the terrible things you’re doing to the planet just by living on it (too many kids, maybe?), and how you really should be ashamed of yourself. But I don’t like to think about Earth Day, Week, or Month in that way, and I encourage you to resist rejecting its core message simply because it’s not always delivered deftly and effectively. So don’t let Earth Day make you feel like a less-than-stellar steward of the planet; you needn’t pressure yourself into thinking that you have to change all of your lifestyle habits starting today – and forever. Instead, just think of today as a launching pad from which you can shift your thought process if need be (even ever-so-slightly) about how what you do and don’t do in your daily life affects the world that immediately surrounds you, and the planet at large. Because if we don’t change, how do we expect anything else to? To help you take action, I give you five things you didn’t know you could recycle, but actually can – and fairly easily, too. Now let’s just make sure we don’t underestimate the positive effects even small steps like these can make where Mother Earth is concerned.
1. Prescription Drugs
You really don’t want your meds (or anyone else’s) ending up in your drinking water supply from being tossed in the trash or flushed down the toilet. So check to make sure that your state offers prescription drug recycling programs, and turn them in whenever possible.
Nike’s kick-ass Reuse-a-Shoe Program makes not tossing your trainers a no-brainer. (Drop-off locations are Nike stores in the U.S. and Vancouver. And yes, they’ll accept any brand of athletic shoe. Whew.) The results? Since the launch of this fine program in 1990, Nike has collected and recycled more than 25 million pairs of sneaks. And most of them are then used to create playgrounds, soccer pitches, tennis courts, and basketball courts.
3. Foam Packing Peanuts
Ah, expanded polystyrene (EPS). Once we open that delivered package (and recycle that corrugated cardboard), you are completely useless to us. Instead of dumping you (and there are always way too many of you) in the trash and pretending that’s a perfectly acceptable solution, we can make sure you get recycled properly at one of more than 200 specialized EPS recycling centers around the U.S.
4. Toothbrushes and Razors
Preserve is a pretty cool company. It takes tons of plastic (including EPS) that would otherwise end up in landfills (including lots of scraps and plastic yogurt cups in partnership with New Hampshire’s Stonyfield Farm) and manufactures them into toiletry products including razors and toothbrushes, as well as kitchen products. In addition to buying Preserve products, you can make sure to send back your clean, empty yogurt cups to Stonyfield Farm to keep the good karma going.
Starting today (Earth Day, have you heard?) until May 21, 2011, Old Navy is partnering with TerraCycle to take your tired, old flip-flops and turn them into kid-friendly surfaces on public playgrounds. Just drop them off at any Old Navy store. Ya done good. Now go have a happy Earth Day already.