Tips on recycling trash

Tired of carrying massive bags of trash to the garbage bin? Try recycling some of your discarded items to save space and earn cash.

If your trash bags are multiplying each week, it may be time to evaluate what's being thrown out to see if you can spare your aching back while making a few dollars from recycling discarded items.

Some communities distribute recycling bins that typically are dark or bright shades of metal or plastic. These lightweight, box-shaped containers are placed on the curb at the designated pickup time each week to be hauled away and remade into reusable things. While the homeowner does not get paid for recycling through the community in this manner, there is still the advantage of throwing out less trash and doing the environment a favor. Recycled items are sometimes cheaper, as well, so your thoughtfulness may aid the economy as an extra bonus.

Those who choose to recycle independently will need to locate a recycling center nearby. With the cost of gasoline, you don't want to pour all your profits into the gas tank. You can recycle many common household items for a variety of exchanges, like these:

1. Cell phones, batteries, and toner cartridges. Sometimes the drop-off store will offer a ream of paper or a discount on a replacement item as an incentive to recycle. Call ahead to get the best deal for your effort.

2. Hazardous household products. Old cans of pesticide, paint or paint thinner, shellac, corrosives, polyurethane, and a host of other potentially toxic chemicals or products (like motor oil) can be deposited at safe recycling or drop-off centers. Never try to dispose of leftover contents by flushing them in the toilet or pouring them on your lawn or in a local stream. Even throwing the containers into the trash can create later problems in the landfill.

3. Stack old newspapers, magazines, and cardboard boxes for eventual recycling. While you have to accumulate lots of these to make money, you're doing the world a favor and where else are they going to go anyway? One precaution is to avoid storing them near heat or chemicals to reduce the chance of a fire.

4. Plastic containers, like milk cartons, are often recycled, but not necessarily for cash. Find out how your community handles this common trash item.

5. Glass containers and dishes. These can be recycled as well, but be careful when handling them to avoid the risk of breakage. Be sure to store these for recycling in their own container rather than mixing them with other recyclable items.

6. Aluminum. This one, like other metals, tends to pay better than most of those described above. Call one or two recycle centers near you to find out the payment rate. Be careful with rusty or sharp edges, or with lifting heavy items, to avoid personal injury.

Indirectly, old clothes and furniture can be recycled through yard sales or thrift stores. When you think about it, there are probably numerous items in your home that someone else is willing to pay for when you no longer want them. Take some time to walk through your house and take an inventory on the things that might be of use to others before getting rid of them.

Check the yellow pages or Internet for local recycle centers. Find out if they're buying what you have to sell and how much they're paying before you pack up your stuff in the car. Passing usable things along to others, especially for pay of one kind or another, will make you feel much better than simply tossing them in the trash.

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