Many baby boomers who are retired and senior citizens have a lot more flexibility on what to do with their time than those in the throes of the intense career/family/social times of life. One good way to invest some of your extra time is to learn about recycling—so you can pass along the information to those who don’t have time to do the research.
As the holidays approach, the idea of giving gift cards has the appeal of saving time and making sure the giftee will want and appreciate what s/he gets. You might get a few yourself. Do you know what to do with those used gift cards? The City of Chicago Recycling operation doesn’t accept them for recycling, but throwing the PVC type in your garbage—though it may seem like a little thing—still contributes to the million-years-to-disappear-from-the-landfill and toxic-byproduct problems we have with PVC and other types of plastics. Earth911.com has recycling suggestions. And here is some information on non-toxic photo-degradable plastics (that is, they will eventually degrade in the presence of light—something that’s not going to happen in a landfill—but which is currently wreaking havoc with our oceans). Meanwhile, Target, REI, Borders, Whole Foods and Walmart are using biodegradable plastic for their gift cards.
If you get non-degradable gift cards, you can mail the empty, non-reloadable ones to Earthworks, which recycles gift cards, credit cards, driver’s licenses and similar smooth plastic cards, grinds them and makes PVC sheets for new plastic cards. Cut up your cards, put them in an envelope and mail to:
Earthworks System LLC
33200 Bainbridge Road, Suite E
Solon, OH 44139
How about wrapping paper? Ribbons? Plastic packaging? Try the search recycling function on Earth911 that lets you input the type of material you’re concerned about and then input a city name or multiple zip codes to see where you may be able to drop off—or mail in—that particular type of waste. Categories include CFLs (those long-life fluorescent bulbs that contain, for heaven’s sake, mercury and MUST be recycled), computers, cell phones, rechargeable batteries that’ve died, and so on.
In Chicago the blue cart and recycling drop-off centers accept plastics numbered #1 – #5 and #7 (look for that little triangular arrow graphic). Plastics with no number or #6 are not accepted for recycling. It can be confusing trying to wade through all the restrictions, but if you’re a baby boomer who has the time, it’s worth it to help secure the future of our precious planet.