Sunday, January 8, 2012

When the City Bins just won’t Cut It (you may have to)

Edit: I'm moving the conclusion to the top, I think it's important - so now I suppose it would be more of an "executive summary".....  Long story short – consider what you’re coming into contact with in the first place, to avoid having to deal with it in the end, be creative and, most importantly, have some fun with it!! Show people how much fab you can create with old items that the majority of people wouldn't think twice about. Set a trend, and share with others what you've done! Go on, do it! :)"

Is it weird that I actually enjoy taking apart random items and sorting their parts into their proper “recycling” category? As I clean out my apartment and try to de-clutter and simplify my life, I realize all the random things I unintentionally accumulate – some are still in working order and I just don’t need them so I can give them away, but other things have lived their planned obsolete life and in most homes, would be in the dumpster and on the next train to the landfill. In an attempt to avoid throwing stuff out (while  trying to consider everything that comes into my life that may inevitably end up in the landfill to avoid it in the first place) I get down to business. And, by that I mean – bust out my tool kit. A handy thing to have, I’ve realized, when trying to recycle those impossible-to-recycle-multi- material-glued-fused-je-ne-sais-quoi items. Or, as my new found enviro friend calls them “CHARMing items” which stands for “Crazy Hard to Recycle Materials” and it’s so very appropriate as they do tend to charm their way into each and every household. So, WATCH OUT! 

With that, I decided that on my journey to split apart and dismantle random items in hopes of properly recycling them, I’d take some photos and share what I’ve learned along the way. I’m sure that many of you have these types of items in your home. It’s actually really fun, too, especially because you feel good knowing you tried your best. The series of questions, process or, hierarchy of homes is as follows (I started to make a flow chart as I thought it would be both fun and educational, but it might just be easier to have it like this :))

1.   Is it really time to get “rid” of this item?

2.     Do I really have no other use for this item? Google it and find out what others are doing! You’d be surprised at how many great ideas there are.

3.     Could someone else benefit from this item? i.e. Can it be given away?
4.     Is it just one type of material, or easy to split up? Can it be recycled with city recycling?
5.   Is it toxic or has the potential to be toxic if dismantled? Take it to where facilities exists (Fire  Stations  usually but just Google it and don't risk harming yourself and the environment further)
6.     Is it electronic, or battery powered? If yes dispose at the proper facilities – in Van that would be electronics recycling depot but a lot of other stores now are taking in old appliances and such – both private and city run here’s an example Unplugged, which London Drugs takes part in, but they now have their own take back program, too. Google is your friend in many of these questions! 
7.     If you’ve deemed it OK to disassemble yourself – then have at –er …this is my favourite part!

Things I’ve disassembled (see photos) – electric toothbrush heads (note: only the head, the base is re-used and if it eventually breaks down, I will take it to an electronics recycling place), old pens and highlighters, toothpaste tube, make-up containers/brushes (from o-so-long ago).

This was a sneaky highlighter with many "intricate parts" i.e. metal in obscure places.

This is why it's best to consider what you buy before hand - ideally something that can easily break into its parts and be recycled accordingly. 

Metals grouped on the left (in a container that was part of a circular unnecessary), plastics on the right, and highlighter innards in the middle (which I wasn't entirely sure what to do with - so they were "recycled" to Urban Woodwaste) - anyone have ideas?

Close-up of the infamous metal parts in items you'd think would have, no metal. All I can do is imagine the amount of work and effort that went into mining for those and how so many pens and highlighters are tossed each day in offices - mostly because people just don't know, as well, there is an endless supply of new ones. Re-Think time. 

Miscellaneous, hard/rigid plastics

Taking apart a rasor, and miscellaneous old make-up items (from when I was in jr. high/high school) 

This is one of those eyelash-on-one-side-eyebrow-on the-other-brushes - again metal within plastic that would have likely just been tossed.

A mascara brush - the inside is metal, the bristles could be composted IF they are not a plastic, likely that they are. Again - best to just avoid this stuff because it's tremendously ridiculous to recycle. 

"The Metals"

Ah yes, the infamous toothpaste tubes - has anyone ever seen what they look like inside? This was my first time. 

Metallic laminated plastic in more plactic :(

The two plastic portions on the left was put into rigid plastics for Pacific Mobile Depot, the metally remnants were placed in my Bottle Brick.

You’ll notice that the items I pull apart are typically the following three:
1)     Miscellaneous metals: which when I see them now I have this vivid image of a mine site, and people/machines working at ravaging the earth for metals, blood, sweat and tears of both people and mother nature. Really makes me think – so many individuals worked so hard for this metal to end up in my pen that I barely use. The environment worked even harder at restoring the land and recovering from the mine site's impact.  Now that it’s ended up in my toothbrush,or pen, or whatever else I have lying around, and it’s life is complete with me, it’s taken me even more work to remove it properly.  So much environmental impact and energy used for one teeny tiny piece of metal that really didn’t improve my life. Note: these items if aluminum will go into the blue bin recycling, if they are scrap metal (e.g. steel - can test if it's magnetic, if yes, then steal, if no, aluminum) and they will be taken to Pacific Mobile Depot.
2)     Miscellaneous hard plastic pieces: go into my “hard plastic” recycling bin and will be taken to Pacific Mobile Depot
3)     Neither plastic, nor metal - I really have no clue and need to google what to do with these! Ex: inside of pens, the felt tube inside of pens/highlighters but as mentioned above - Urban Woodwaste was where these specific ones were taken. I'm still not convinced that's the best place since they do end up burning it for fuel, well, that and, I'd rather just avoid it in the first place.

Some cool ideas I found whilst searching online – in my steps before finally disassembling – were for pens – a lamp, or a name-tag holder for your garden.

....and that's just a start!