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Build it and they will come. Tear it down and they can recycle it!

There’s a huge pile of it when a building is torn down. There is a dumpster full of it when a house is remodeled. It’s called construction and demolition waste, and the good news is most of it can be reused or recycled.

Construction and demolition materials consist of the debris generated during the construction, renovation and demolition of homes, buildings, roads and bridges. And all of us — from construction companies to private residents — can play a role in giving it a second life.

Habitat-ReStore-RequirementsDonate it

Habitat ReStore accepts donations of new and used building materials and furniture from individuals, contractors and retailers. The donated materials are made available to the public at discounted prices. Profits support Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build decent, affordable homes for low-income families to own.

This Habitat ReStore Kansas City guide (PDF) lists all building materials you can donate.

Deconstruct it

Deconstruction is the process of hand-dismantling rooms, homes or buildings in order to salvage useable portions. The Habitat ReStore Kansas City uses trained and certified deconstruction contractors for whole-house removal. ReStore also has crews that handle partial deconstruction jobs like kitchen, bath and deck removal.

Choosing deconstruction has many advantages, including:

  • Reduced costs through tax deductions.
  • Reduced environmental impact when removing the building.
  • Creating new, livable-wage jobs in the Kansas City area.
  • Supplying Habitat ReStore with quality, affordable building materials which are made available for public reuse.

Take it to a landfill or transfer station

There are several landfills and transfer stations in the Kansas City metro area that recycle certain building materials, including metal, asphalt, concrete, wood waste and roofing materials. Landfills and transfer stations charge a fee for accepting materials. For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org and search for “building materials” under “I want to recycle.”

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Donation is always in fashion

Clothing-SwapYou’re faced with the same dilemma every spring and fall: what to do with extra clothes, clothes that don’t fit, or clothes that are too damaged to wear. So many people in the world need clothing — and so many landfills don’t — so why not donate your unwanted clothes?

Options for donation

Donating clothes has never been easier. There are thrift stores and clothing donation bins throughout the community, and friends and relatives who might appreciate the hand-me-downs. Charities will often accept your gently worn clothing, too. If you’re donating to a charity, always contact the organization first to find out donation requirements. You may even qualify for a tax deduction.

Wardrobe malfunction?

What about clothes that are ripped, stained or faded? Go ahead and donate them, too! Major thrift operations contract with textile reclamation companies that accept damaged clothing and clothing that won’t sell in stores.

Wearable clothing is sold in different countries throughout the world where it’s in demand. Unwearable clothing can take a couple of different routes. Cotton and other biodegradable materials are often recycled into wiping cloths. They can also be shredded into “shoddy” fibers, blended with other selected fibers, and turned into recycled yarn. Synthetic materials such as polyester are turned into new filament fiber used to make new polyester fabrics.

Clothing Swap

Participate in a clothing swap to exchange your closet clean-outs for clothing you will wear. You can join an existing group, such as Kansas City Pop-Up Clothing Swap, or set up one of your own among friends (see list above).

For more information on donating clothing, visit RecycleSpot.org.

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Bring good things to life — again — when you recycle your old appliances

Refrigerated-Appliance-BoxModern life would be very different without appliances:  they wash, they dry, they heat, they cool, they slice, they dice, they make julienne fries! But when they stop working and are beyond repair, it’s time to recycle them.  But where?

Large Appliances

The easiest way to recycle large appliances such as washers and refrigerators is to have them removed by the company delivering your new appliance.  They will recycle your old appliance and are required by law to properly dispose of refrigerants.  If you’re installing the new appliance yourself, consider taking the old, nonfunctioning one to a scrap metal dealer, a used appliance dealer, landfill or transfer station. Johnson County, Lee’s Summit, and Courtney Ridge landfills have appliance recycling services. Several transfer stations (a site where recyclables and refuse are collected and sorted in preparation for processing or landfill) have appliance recycling services as well. Always call first.

If your old appliance still works, there may be no need to recycle it. Contact a used appliance dealer or Habitat ReStore (one of our SWMD grantees) to find out if it can be reused.

Small Appliances

Non-working small appliances like hair dryers, microwaves and coffee makers are accepted by a few electronic-waste recyclers such as The Surplus Exchange, Vintage Tech Recyclers, and Computer Recycle USA. If you’re just upgrading and the old one still works, you can also donate it to your local thrift store.

For more information on recycling appliances, visit RecycleSpot.org and search for the appliance you wish to recycle.

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Recycle your ride

recycle-tiresAre you a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to auto maintenance? If so, you probably have a couple of tires or containers of used motor oil sitting around your garage that you’d like to see go. Or, perhaps you have an entire old car you want to get rid of. Luckily there are plenty of automotive recycling options in our region.

Batteries, Tires, Motor Oil and Filters

Most full-service automotive centers will recycle used motor oil and automotive batteries for free, and tires for a small fee. Auto parts stores and quick lube places generally accept used motor oil and batteries as well. Some locations even recycle oil filters. Always call first to check that items are accepted.

Household hazardous waste facilities also accept automotive batteries and fluids, including oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid and more.

  • RecycleSpot.org search terms: Batteries, Tires, Automotive Fluids, Oil Filters

Salvage

Old vehicles that are beyond repair are ideal for salvaging. Many automotive salvage yards, used auto parts dealers and even some scrap metal dealers will take that old car off your hands. Generally they will pay a modest amount for your vehicle and provide free pick up.

Donation

There are many organizations that accept vehicles for donation. Generally they’ll take your car (running or not), provide free pickup, help with the title and paperwork, and help you get the highest possible tax deduction. Contact your favorite charity to see if it has a vehicle donation program.

For more information on recycling automotive materials, visit RecycleSpot.org. Under “I want to recycle” you can click “More Search Options” to filter by material, salvage or donation.

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What to do with your batteries when they stop going and going and going…

batteryToday is National Battery Day! It seems like it’s always time to replace a battery somewhere: in your smoke alarm, your car, your laptop, your flashlight. But recycling those worn-out batteries can get confusing.  How do you know which ones to recycle, and where?

The average household uses three types of batteries on a regular basis: lead-acid batteries in vehicles, and either rechargeable or single-use batteries in electronic devices.

The easiest time to recycle a lead-acid battery is when you take your vehicle in for a battery replacement. Lead-acid batteries are banned from landfill disposal in both Kansas and Missouri, and both states require all businesses that sell new batteries to recycle used ones.  Even if you replace the battery yourself, you can recycle the old one at your local automotive service center. Most accept them for free.

Call2Recycle, Inc. is a nonprofit, public service organization that provides responsible recycling for rechargeable batteries, such as the ones used in laptops or cameras. Call2Recycle collects and recycles rechargeable batteries for free at many office supply stores and electronics retailers. The organization also offers collection box and bulk shipping options to public and private entities.

All lead-acid and rechargeable batteries can also be recycled at your community HHW facility.

Single-use batteries — such as alkaline and button batteries — can be recycled at the Kansas City, Mo., Household Hazardous Waste Facility, which serves residents of communities that participate in the regional HHW program. If you live in a Missouri community that doesn’t currently participate, contact your city council or county commission and ask them to join the regional program. If you live in Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson or Miami counties in Kansas, check with your county HHW facility to find out about recycling single-use batteries.

In addition to recycling, you can take steps to reduce battery waste. Check to see if you already have batteries on hand before buying more and try to purchase electronics that function without batteries. When it is necessary to buy batteries, consider rechargeable batteries, which have a longer life span.

For more information on battery recycling locations, visit RecycleSpot.org.

 

Photo credit: scalespeeder on flickr

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There’s a green elephant in the room

white elephant green bow

Happy Regifting Day!

In honor of National Regifting Day, held every year on the third Thursday in December, we’re sharing this fun holiday party idea.

This year, that white elephant in the room will encourage guests to talk about how fun and eco-friendly your gathering is!

A green elephant gift exchange is just like the white elephant version, but with a green twist. Here’s how to set one up:

  1. In your e-vite, ask each guest to bring an item for the Green Elephant Gift Exchange. It must be:
    • Pre-owned
    • Fun — the more tacky and off the wall the better!
    • Wrapped in an earth-friendly manner (reusable or recyclable wrapping only)
  1. Before you begin the exchange write numbers on slips of paper, starting at one and ending at the number of guests participating.
  1. At the party, have guests place the gifts in a central location.
  1. Each participant draws a number. The numbers determine the order in which participants choose a gift.
  1. The first person opens a wrapped gift and the turn ends.
  1. On subsequent turns, each person gets the choice of choosing a wrapped gift from the pile or “stealing” any unwrapped item from another player. Participants must keep unwrapped gifts in view.
  1. The game is over when the last person has taken his or her turn.
  1. Encourage your guests to save any “unappreciated” items for their next green elephant gift exchange.

Notes on play:

  • When a gift is stolen, the robbed player must select a replacement gift from the pile of wrapped presents.
  • A player cannot immediately steal back the gift that was stolen, but must wait at least one round before stealing back a gift.
  • A gift cannot be stolen more than once a turn.

In no time at all, guests will be laughing and you’ll find the true meaning of greening the holidays!

For more information and variations on game rules, search for white elephant gift exchanges online.

Don’t forget to visit www.RecycleSpot.org for all your holiday reuse and recycling needs.

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Fight food waste at your festivities

AppetizersFood: it’s the center of every holiday gathering.

But between thinking about all those calories and the sheer quantity of food, most of us don’t consider how much of it gets wasted.  In fact, the average American wastes between 209 and 253 pounds of food every year, with a fair amount of that waste occurring around the holidays. Here are some ways to reduce waste that will help you, your guests and the environment.

  • Precycle. “Precycling” is when you avoid purchasing unnecessary items that will eventually have to be recycled or thrown away. For holiday meals, try to purchase products with less packaging, use durable dishware and cook only for the number of people who will eat at your gathering.
  • Prepare healthy portions. Love Food Hate Waste’s online portion planner will tell you how much food to purchase based on the type of food you want to serve and the number of people who will eat it.
  • Make a list and stick with it. A list will ensure you don’t forget anything and keep you from buying and spending too much.
  • Let guests serve themselves. When guests serve themselves they can choose the items they actually want to eat.
  • Use smaller plates. Smaller plates help fend off the dreaded “my-eyes-are-bigger-than-my-stomach” syndrome.
  • Ask guests to bring reusable containers. This way you won’t have to eat all those leftovers yourself and your guests will have something to eat the next day. Plus you’ll reuse others’ containers instead of buying new ones.

Don’t forget to visit RecycleSpot.org for all of your holiday reuse and recycling needs!

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Celebrate America Recycles Day: give your old stuff a second life

Happy America Recycles Day!

ARD logoMARC’s Solid Waste Management District encourages you to give your old stuff a second life on the 16th annual America Recycles Day (ARD). Held every year on November 15, ARD is a national campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and buying products made with recycled materials.

In the Kansas City metro area, about 80 percent of the average home’s trash is reusable or recyclable. If you’re like most people, you probably already recycle items such as cans, plastic and paper. But did you know you can also recycle items such as paint, computers, building materials, tires, Styrofoam, carpet, glass bottles and jars, yard waste, compact fluorescent light bulbs and bicycles?

Now that we’ve piqued your curiosity, visit www.RecycleSpot.org where you can:

  • Find these items and many more to recycle or reuse.
  • Choose from several ARD events scheduled throughout the week where you can drop off computers, televisions, sensitive documents for shredding and more.
  • Learn how to buy recycled.
  • Get tools to help promote recycling and reuse in your community.
  • Download a great activity for the kids.

You or your business can also take the America Recycles Day pledge or participate in the ARD Thunderclap to share your love for recycling.

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Do you reduce and reuse?

Reduce Reuse RecycleReduce, reuse, recycle: the “Three Rs.” We hear this phrase all the time — and most of us understand the recycling part — but how many of us really understand “reduce” and “reuse” and what we can do to incorporate these principles into our daily lives?

First of all, what do these words mean? To “reduce” means producing less trash in the first place. “Reusing” means finding a new way to use something instead of throwing it in the trash can. When done together, reducing and reusing avoid the creation of trash and the need to recycle or send it to a landfill.

Let’s look at actions we can each take to reduce our waste:

Do I really need to purchase this item? 

  • Use products you already have. Keep things clean and organized so you can easily find what you need.
  • Maintain and repair. Items that are well maintained don’t have to be repaired or replaced as often. Try to repair something before you replace it.
  • Buy well-made products. Durable products have a longer lifespan and are more likely to be repairable.
  • Share, borrow or rent. Save money and reduce waste by sharing, borrowing or renting items you use infrequently.
  • Shop used. Shopping for used items is sustainable and economical. Try looking around at garage sales, thrift stores and Craigslist.

Can I reuse this item?

  • Reuse everyday items. Get in the habit of reusing everyday items such as plastic grocery sacks, coffee cans and old t-shirts.
  • Use durable bags. Whether shopping for groceries, clothes, toys or tools use reusable shopping bags instead of paper or plastic bags.
  • Use refillable mugs and water bottles. At work, at home or on-the-go, use a refillable container.
  • Use Tupperware as take out boxes. These can replace disposable paper, plastic and Styrofoam boxes.

When I am through with an item, what are my options?

  • Donate. Donate items to friends or thrift stores.
  • Reuse at work. Make sure your office has a system for reusing, donating or selling surplus supplies and property.

Can I avoid all of this packaging?

  • Choose less or no packaging. When choosing between two similar products, select the one with the least or no packaging.  Products that contain less packaging include large or economy-sized items, concentrated products and bulk items.
  • Choose recyclable packaging. If you can’t avoid the packaging, select the product with packaging that can be put into your curbside recycling bin or accepted at your local drop-off facility.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org, Greater Kansas City’s one-stop website for waste reduction, reuse and recycling information.

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