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Trash Reap: 10 Surprising Recycling Efforts--from Bras to Crayons [Slide Show]

This guide, in observance of Earth Day 2012, helps consumers move well beyond the throw-it-out mentality

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RECAP:

Bottle caps, yogurt cups and other types of no. 5 plastic pose problems for many local recyclers. The resin has limited second-life options, thus making its reclamation less economically attractive. Plus, rigid bottle caps can jam processing equipment, so they often get rerouted to a landfill.....[ More ]

SNEAKING OUT THE DUMP:

Nike has prevented more than 25 million pairs of shoes from the fate of degrading in landfills globally through its Reuse-A-Shoe take-back program, "run" since 1993. The crummy old shoes get ground up and pulverized into three Nike Grind materials—rubber (from the outsole), foam (from the midsole) and fabric (from the upper part of the shoe).....[ More ]

BEING ADULT ABOUT RECYCLING:

Recycling of consumer electronics, or "e-waste," has caught on in recent years. But adult toys such as vibrators still often get discretely tossed into the trash. Given the estimated several million bedroom toys sold just in the U.S.....[ More ]

REINCARNATING CORK:

Why do people often keep old wine bottle corks in a drawer or vase? "There's an elemental connection between humans and cork," says Patrick Spencer, executive director of the Cork Forest Conservation Alliance.....[ More ]

RE-WARDS:

Are those old kiddie sports trophies taking up too much space in the den? With a bit of polish and a new engraving, those mementos of glories past can be repurposed to celebrate present-day achievements.....[ More ]

SUPPORT SUPPORT:

The Bra Recyclers aim to reclaim an oft-overlooked part of the feminine wardrobe when it comes to clothes recycling. "When people ask what we're doing, I have to spell it out: B-R-A-S," says Elaine Birks-Mitchell (above), who founded the company in 2008.....[ More ]

JEANS, REBORN:

The vast majority of clothes, even after stints as hand-me-downs, end up in landfills: The average American throws out nearly 32 kilograms of textiles a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.....[ More ]

LIGHTS FANTASTIC:

With the growing popularity of energy-efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) in all types of lighting, more and more people are ditching their incandescent holiday lights for the newer technology. To entice people to make the switch, HolidayLEDS.com started a string-light recycling program in 2007.....[ More ]

RETURN OF SERVE:

Any tennis player will tell you that the game's bright yellow balls quickly lose their pop off the court; that's usually when the dog gets a new chew toy. The 300 million or so tennis balls manufactured every year add up to a lot of non-biodegradable trash—17,000 metric tons, in fact, according to reBounces , a Harrison, Ark.–based company.....[ More ]

BACK IN BLACK ... AND GREEN ... AND FUCHSIA:

Everybody loves crayons, including the parents who join their kids in scribbling on paper place mats at family restaurants. Astoundingly, the Crayola company alone manufactures in excess of 12 million of the colored wax sticks daily.....[ More ]

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