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By Contributing Editor
Clay Anderson

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If you are like me, you often wonder how you can recycle those items which you can't simply toss in your recycling bin at home.  I'm talking about things like batteries, CFL bulbs, paint, etc.  I've been letting these items accumulate in my house and garage until I could figure out what to do with them, and a little research provided me with some fairly easy solutions that I want to share with you.

First of all, resist the temptation to take the easy way out and toss them in the trash thinking that your single little indiscretion wont hurt the environment that much.  Remember that batteries, CFL bulbs, paint, motor oil, etc. all contain toxic chemicals which can seriously contaminate the environment if not properly disposed of.

Since these types of items will generally not be accepted by your curbside recycler, you'll have to make a special effort to dispose of these items responsibly. It is not difficult, and we're finding more and more stores and disposal sites willing to take these toxic off of your hands and recycle or dispose of them responsibly for you.  All it takes is a little research on your part on the Internet, and I am sure you will find solution where you live too.

Here are some simple solutions I found that I hope will be helpful to you:

Batteries: Recycling rechargeable batteries is fairly easy.  Many stores such as Staples, Radio Shack, Office Max , Office Depot , and Best Buy offer recycling programs, or you can easily search your local area for other battery recycling sites at the The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC).  It is a non-profit, public service organization dedicated to rechargeable battery recycling.  Another good resource is or . Recycling single-use batteries is a little more difficult, but you can dispose of safely.  Due to concerns about mercury in the municipal solid waste stream, most battery manufacturers voluntarily eliminated all of the added mercury from alkaline batteries since in the mid 1990's.  Furthermore,  these batteries are classified by the Federal Government as nonhazardous waste and may be safely disposed of in normal household waste. However, most of us want to recycle when ever possible, so contact your local government for disposal or recycling practices in your area.  Also look for battery recycling bins at local businesses or libraries. Lastly, you can also check into your local household hazardous waste drop-off sites by state

CFLs: These energy-efficient bulbs are great.  In fact, if every U.S. home replaced a regular incandescent bulb with a CFL, the reduction of greenhouse gases would be equivalent to taking two million cars off the road. CFLs last from 6-10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime. They are becoming easier to dispose of also.  Major retailers such as  Home Depot,  Ikea , and Ace Hardware now offer free recycling. 

Electronics: Items like telephones, radios, TVs, computers and cell phones are items we rely on, and these products make up the bulk of electronics that have the greatest potential to cause serious environmental damage because of their hazardous ingredients. The disposal of these electronic items is referred to as electronic waste, or e-waste.  Now, retailers and manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and are accepting mobile phones, computers, cameras, televisions, and many other devices. Keep in mind that not every store offers free recycling, and worthwhile do a little research first as some stores charge fees depending on item and brand. Try searching Earth 911's extensive database for other local options, or check out the bigger electronic stores such as Best Buy, Staples, and Office Depot to determine what works best for you. Some cell phone service providers such as: Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Palm, and RIM (Blackberry) also have their own recycling programs.  Radio Shack  gives you another option to recycling.  They have introduced a trade-in program where you can receive a gift card for your old gadgets.  Another e-waste recycling resource is the Telecommunications Industry Association website where you can check on other recycling resources state by state.  

Used Motor Oil: Some recyclers will pick it up curbside if you have it in a clear plastic container so that they can identify it as motor oil.  You can also take it to Wal-Mart, Autozone, Jiffy Lube,  and they will recycle your motor oil for you, or you can go Earth911 to search for a recycling location near you.  Just keep in mind that every gallon of improperly disposed used motor oil  can contaminate one million gallons of drinking water. 

Paint: Most of us have some unwanted paint sitting in our basement or garage and don't know what to do with it. It's a little more difficult to dispose of, but you have some good options. First, consider putting your unwanted paint to good use.  If your paint is still in good condition, consider donating it go a good cause. Somewhere, somebody could use it. If you decide to recycle your paint, consult Earth911 for a location near you. 

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