I am a dedicated recycler of all the things that curbside recycling takes from my home, like paper and plastics.
For the other stuff, I make an effort to find specialized recycling resources. Some of these are highly Everyday Sustainable, because they are easy to access.
- Batteries, both regular and rechargeable, and compact fluorescent bulbs. Fortunately, all I have to do is walk three blocks to Cole Hardware, which will also take old latex paint, copper and brass scrap metal, and empty ink jet and laser cartridges.
- Cell phone. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest everyday things to recycle, since the stores that sell the phones will take them back. I recycled my last phone through one of the many non-profits that do this: Cell Phones for Soldiers. I got one of their plastic envelopes in an Amazon box, and decided to use it because I liked the story of how the organization was started by two teenagers.
- Wire hangers. Take them back to the dry cleaner.
Other stuff requires some more dedication to recycle/dispose.
- Boot cast and crutches. I broke my ankle last year, and hobbled around on crutches for a week, then clomped around with a velcro-afixed boot cast for a few weeks. After some effort to find and then coordinate with their three-hour weekly drop-off window, I handed these to the Home CARES Equipment Recylers, which loans and gives durable medical supplies to people who need them locally, or send them abroad. San Franciso, 415-487-5405; Oakland, 510-251-2273. To find resources in your area, search the Internet for “medical supplies” or “assistive technology” plus the city/area/region name.
- Pharmaceutical drugs, both over-the-counter like aspirin or ibuprofen, as well as prescription. First of all, apparently, drugs tend to be effective long after their expiration date, so you can hold on to them for a long time. For drugs I probably won’t use–like the painkillers for my ankle fracture–I plan to dispose of through the Green Pharmacy Program, which as far as I can tell is only in the SF Bay Area. Or, send them with friends who are going overseas–to a natural disaster affected area–or to a medical organization like The Flying Doctors (see list of meds under In-Kind Gifts) or Child Family Health International. DO NOT FLUSH DRUGS DOWN TOILET, unless there are specific instructions to do so.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but some of what supports my Everyday Sustainable living. Some more general resources: