Category Archives: recycle

Get paid for your trash!

Many of the items we use on a daily basis produce a large amount of waste.  Much of our trash comes from food and beverage containers.  You eat a bag of chips, and then that bag sits in a landfill for years.  Other common sources of trash include school and office supplies, small electronics, and shipping materials.  However, there are ways to actually make money from items that normally go straight into the trash.

Here are five types of items that you can get paid to get rid of in an environmentally friendly way.

1.        Food and beverage containers

Within the last few years, a new company known as TerraCycle has found a creative way to reuse candy wrappers, chip bags, beverage containers, and even wine corks.  They take in these types of trash and then turn them into useable products, such as school and office supplies.  The best part is, TerraCycle will pay you for your trash.  By registering your organization (usually a school, scout troop, or non-profit), you can begin to keep track of what you send to the company.  The price is usually $0.02 per piece of trash, but it all adds up to help produce less trash and raise money for local schools or charities.

For more information, visit


2.       Cardboard

Businesses that ship and receive lots of items end up with lots of boxes to deal with.  They can be recycled normally, but unfortunately such facilities are not always available, or easy to take your cardboard to.  For businesses with a large amount of cardboard, a web-based company will actually pay you for your used shipping boxes.  They require loads of at least 5,000 boxes, but they will work with the business to arrange pickups and payment.

For more information, visit


3.       Appliances

If you have appliances that are still useable, they can always be donated to organizations such as The Salvation Army or Goodwill.  Often, donating any items (not just appliances) can get you a tax write-off, so you save money at the end of the year.  But if they are broken, large appliances can be sold for scrap metal.  Contact your local junkyard or metal recycler for more information and prices.


4.       Ink Cartridges

Offices, schools, and even households can go through quite a number of ink cartridges in a year.  Not only are they costly to replace, they contain plastics and many chemicals that are best not thrown into a landfill.  Thankfully there are ways to get paid for your old ink and toner cartridges.  Some companies refill them and then sell the refurbished cartridges for cheaper than new ones.  Others recycle the entire cartridge.  A quick search online will bring you to many companies that will pay you anywhere from a few cents to several dollars per used ink cartridges.  Check to find a local company, or shop around to see which service fits your needs best.


5.       Sports Equipment

Spring is finally here, and soon we’ll all be heading to the track, field, court, or diamond on our days off and weekends.  If it’s time for a new racket or bat, some stores exist that will let you trade in old items for a discount on new ones.  The company Play It Again Sports has locations across the country, including right here in Southwest PA.

For old athletic shoes, Nike runs a program called Reuse-A-Shoe.  You can donate your old shoes, which will be ground up and used to back the rubber for running tracks, padding under tennis courts, and a variety of other uses.  Individuals and send their old shoes in to be recycled.  Local schools, gyms, and other groups looking for a new athletic surface can research how to get one made from recycled shoes.

For more information, visit

And for Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe, visit

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More ideas for Recycling: 21 Items

Phones, appliances, clothes, cardboard…when it comes to recycling irregular items in a rural location, the task at hand seems daunting.

Thanks to the internet, finding recycling resources doesn’t have to take up all your time.  Consider placing a couple calls, writing a few emails, and you  can potentially link up with a buyer.  Literally.  This site, for instance, may be able to buy your cardboard packing boxes!

Check this list of 21 items that aren’t always easy to recycle for an effective approach to lightening your landfill load.

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Packaging waste

As a follow-up to compostable materials for restaurants, this article from Mother Jones Magazine offers a quick read with some revealing statistics and a dash of wry humor about the social, psychological, economic and environmental implications of packaging and waste in the U.S. Just something to chew on…

A few standouts:

Nearly 10% of a typical product’s price is for packaging.

The global packaging market is worth $429 billion.

Nearly 1/3 of Americans’ waste is packaging. Just 43% is recycled after use.

In 2007, Americans threw away 78.5 million tons of packaging—520 pounds per person. That’s a 71% increase from 1960.

35% of Americans say that they seek alternatives to excessively packaged goods, and nearly 1/2 of consumers worldwide say they’d sacrifice convenience for more environmentally sustainable packaging.

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A question that arose at the Great Allegheny Passage Sustainability Summit last week concerns biodiesel.  Eric Martin (owner, Wilderness Voyageurs and Falls City Pub) and Mike Dreisbach (owner, Savage River Lodge) both refine their used cooking oil into biodiesel for their vehicles.  The questions put forth were:

1. What vehicles can run on biodiesel?

2. Do the vehicles need to be modified for such use?

In order to run a vehicle on biodiesel the vehicle must have a diesel powered engine.  Diesel vehicles get great mileage (a modern VW Golf diesel gets upwards of 50 mpg). Diesels are generally the longest lasting reliable cars on the road with most engines lasting over 400,000 miles. Unfortunately in the US the diesel vehicle selection is limited as compared to the rest of the world.  However, this seems to be changing as the price of gas goes up and diesel hybrid technology is developed. Volkswagen sells all their models in diesel versions called TDI, which are excellent biodiesel vehicles. Jeep is just now coming out with a diesel version of their Liberty SUV.  Ford, Dodge, Chevy and GMC all currently sell diesel versions of their large pickups and Mercedes is about to come out with a new turbo diesel in the US. There are also a host of older vehicles such as Mercedes, Volvo, etc that can be found on the used market in diesel.  You can find a great list of all US diesel makes and models at:

Most vehicles do not require any prep to run biodiesel.  However for vehicles manufactured before 1985 the fuel line should be changed to a modern fluorinated plastic such as Viton as the biodiesel could cause swelling in some older plastic lines. If the vehicle has been running petro-diesel for a long time you should be prepared to change the fuel filter in the first few thousand miles of biodiesel use.  Biodiesel will flush all the petro-diesel residue from your system and it will end up in your fuel filter. As this happens you will feel a gradual loss of power over a few days, this is the signal to change the filter.

Both Eric and Mike mentioned future ideas to perhaps begin Biodiesel Co-ops.  So what does a biodiesel co-op entail?  A co-op is a community of people that committ to share ideas, skills, and in most cases goods.  For a membership fee, members of a co-op generally receive discounted products or goods.  A biodiesel co-op would therefore use this principle based around the manufacture and distribution of biodiesel.

To understand how it operates in reality, here are a few examples of successful Biodiesel Co-ops:

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Filed under Buy Local, Creative re-use, Green on the GAP, how-to, in Southwestern PA, recycle, reuse