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May 2006
Recycling Tips from Recycle This!
By Christina J. Salvi

Unwanted computers and electronics
Computer waste is everywhere, and fortunately most people want to keep their toxins—lead, cadmium, mercury, etc.—out of landfills and incinerators. For working items, we offer the Freecycle New York City group, where people can find new homes for things. There is also Per Scholas (, a Bronx nonprofit that recycles broken equipment and reconditions some working items to provide to schools and low-income families at an affordable price. Electronics recycling collections are also hosted by Recycle This! and the Lower East Side Ecology Center a few times a year in various locations throughout the city. Some companies offer to take back items, so visit the manufacturer’s website to see if they will accept your spent e-waste. New York City does not have a consistent program in place to take electronics off the curb for recycling, but there is a bill before the City Council that would place the responsibility on manufacturers to take back and pay for electronic waste. Talk to your City Councilperson if you support this!

Plastic bags
Paper or plastic? How about organic cotton or hemp?! The best thing you can do to mitigate your plastic bag “problem” is to stop using them. Keep a few totes in your home and office for use any time. Look for free tote bags on Freecycle, and maybe offer up your old plastic bags to dog walkers on the list. Some supermarkets do accept plastic bags for recycling if you are in a hurry to purge your collection—but remember, waste prevention is the key!

Recycling in the workplace
Paper recycling in the workplace is required by law, yet most people in NYC office buildings are convinced there is no recycling going on. If your efforts to find the program go nowhere, call 311 and report the situation anonymously. The number one tip for recycling paper is: keep it dry. Relatively clean paper can be resold by commercial waste haulers, making it cost-effective to keep it out of landfills—so keep the wet stuff in your kitchen garbage. Unfortunately, New York City does not require bottle and can recycling in office buildings (unless you have a cafeteria), so look for ways to reduce—a water filter instead of plastic water bottles; glassware instead of paper cups.

Many people remember using municipal battery collections, but the NYC battery recycling program was cancelled years ago. Though alkaline batteries manufactured today have little to no mercury content, they can still be recycled. An industry-funded group, the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) will send you a free box for battery and cell phone recycling ( Most rechargeable (i.e. toxic) batteries are stamped with the RBRC symbol and recycling hotline (1-800-8-BATTERY) so look for that seal. RadioShack, Staples and similar stores also collect these materials as participants in the RBRC. Whole Foods market accepts alkaline and rechargeable batteries, as does 3R Living in Park Slope, Brooklyn. All batteries can be dropped off at the Department of Sanitation Special Waste Collection Center in each borough.

Freecycle New York City FreeMeet
Every few months hundreds of people gather at our seasonal FreeMeets to unleash their clutter. FreeMeets are a “live” version of the Freecycle NYC online exchange where you can bring items you no longer use and perhaps pick up some free clothing, housewares, shoes, books, etc. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people who are part of the Recycle This! and Freecycle community. Our next FreeMeet will be solar-powered! We’re partnering with Habana Outpost and closing down South Portland Street in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, June 24.

Contact to get involved in making things happen!

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