Unwanted Sports Equipment? Sell or Donate It!

soccer ball

Do you have unwanted sports equipment taking up precious space in your closet or garage? Here are a few ways you can clear out some space and get your gear to someone who will get it back out on the field!

Don’t Recycle

While you may be tempted to try to recycle your used equipment, you shouldn’t. Sports equipment is almost always made out of mixed materials, making it impossible to recycle. In addition, putting these items in the recycling can be damaging to equipment and dangerous for workers at recycling facilities. Instead, try selling or donating used sports equipment that’s still in usable condition. Broken equipment that can’t be reused goes into the garbage. One notable exception is sports clothing, which can be recycled through textile recycling programs if it is in too poor of a condition to sell or donate.

Sell It

Sports equipment is often quite expensive, which creates a large, active secondhand market. Follow these steps to easily sell your gear:

  1. Determine a fair price. This can be done by researching online or checking out similar items in a used gear shop.
  2. Choose a marketplace. Options include websites such as Craigslist, eBay, Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace, used gear shops such as Play It Again Sports, or local consignment shops and swap meets.

Donate It

Donating your used sports equipment can be a fulfilling (and super easy!) way to get rid of your old gear. There are many options for donating items, from our local thrift stores to national mail-in programs like Pitch In For Baseball & Softball and Level the Playing Field. Donating your equipment is an eco-friendly option that can empower others to get into sports that might otherwise be inaccessible to them.

Buy Used

Looking to go even further? The next time you need sporting equipment, use the resources mentioned above to find gear secondhand. Save a few dollars and help the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win!

Ask the Experts: What Can Be Recycled With Plastic Bags Through Store Drop-Off?

examples of plastic film
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Q: I know that plastic grocery bags can be dropped off at certain stores for recycling. What else can I recycle in those plastic bag drop-off bins?

A: Film plastic recycling — often referred to as plastic bag recycling or store drop-off recycling — was developed to deal with the massive quantity of plastic bags being distributed at stores prior to California’s recent statewide ban. Plastic bags and other film recyclables cannot be recycled curbside because they get tangled up in the machinery at recycling facilities, endangering workers and halting the recycling process. Never put plastic bags or film in your curbside recycling bin.

Luckily, there are store drop-off locations and they can take more than just plastic grocery bags! Here’s what you can recycle in store-drop off bins:

Here are a few common items that can’t be recycled in store drop-off bins:

All items must be clean and dry to be recycled. Dirty and/or wet bags can contaminate the whole bin and keep it from being recycled.

Film plastics are recycled into new bags, packaging, or even into durable home products, such as composite lumber used to make decks and benches.

Ready to recycle your film plastics? Find a location near you.

Plastic Utensils Go in the Trash

Don’t toss that plastic fork, spoon or knife into your recycling. Plastic utensils — with or without the recycling symbol — go in the garbage. Here’s why they can’t be recycled and how you can avoid using them.

Plastic utensils aren’t recyclable for two main reasons. The first reason is their small, skinny shape. When plastic utensils end up at the recycling facility, they tend to either fall through or get stuck in the machinery that sorts objects into groups of the same material. Most machinery can’t handle items smaller than 2-3 inches around, and utensils are so skinny that they fall through the equipment. Second, plastic utensils vary in plastic type. They’re commonly made of plastic #1, plastic #5, plastic #6, or bioplastic. Because they are identical in shape and size, the different types of plastic make them very difficult to sort correctly.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the plastic utensil problem: reusable utensils! That fork or spoon that doesn’t quite match any of the others in your silverware set is the perfect candidate for a zero waste take-out kit. Keep forgetting to bring your utensils? Consider keeping a set in your purse, backpack or car. Every time you use your reusable utensils, you’ll know you’ve kept a plastic fork or spoon out of the landfill!

Do you still have some plastic utensils in your silverware drawer or the glovebox of your car? Rinse and reuse them until they break, then dispose of them in the garbage.

The Ocean Cleanup Makes Progress Toward a Plastic-Free Ocean

Ocean Cleanup

Photo: The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup is a nonprofit organization started in 2013 by the young Dutch inventor Boyan Slat. Its mission is to develop technologies to remove plastic from the ocean — a massive undertaking that falls under no single country’s jurisdiction, and thus has largely been ignored until now.

There is no small amount of plastic in the ocean. Although we don’t know exactly how much, scientists have estimated that 8 million metric tons of new plastic enters the ocean each year. That’s the weight of nearly 170 fully loaded Titanics — except in lightweight plastic. In the Pacific Ocean, a lot of this plastic gets sucked into a giant vortex of trash called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The largest of five such ocean patches, it’s roughly twice the size of Texas.

To make matters worse, ocean plastics are an environmental hazard. Not only do they harm over 600 species of marine life, including whales, but they also break down into microplastics, which are difficult to collect and never truly go away. Instead, they work their way up the food chain — from plankton to fish to humans — accumulating in the body. Although we don’t yet know what the effects of microplastics are on humans, we do know that they are toxic to small organisms.

During their research, The Ocean Cleanup found that, by weight, the largest amount of plastic floating in the open seas was large debris. By removing the bulk of the plastic before it breaks down into microplastics, The Ocean Cleanup hopes to prevent a lot of microplastic pollution from happening.

The nonprofit’s ultimate goal is to reduce floating ocean plastic by 90 percent by the year 2040. In the meantime, they are trying to remove 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years through a fleet of uniquely designed systems. These systems are essentially massive U-shaped floating tubes with attached nylon screens. The ocean currents sweep plastic inside the funnels, where they are held temporarily between the net and floating tube. Every so often, a garbage ship will net the plastic debris and haul it back to shore.

Last year, The Ocean Cleanup launched its first prototype out into the Pacific Ocean. Now, only one year and one prototype later, they have returned home successful with a cache of ocean plastics.

To reduce the amount of energy, cost and manpower needed to run this operation, their design is self-operational, using natural ocean currents alone to collect the plastic.

Ocean Cleanup Diagram

Photo: The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup plans to build and launch an entire fleet of these systems into the ocean, where they can passively collect plastic trash. Once collected, they plan to recycle the trash into valuable items that can be purchased to fund the continuation of the cleanup.

Simultaneously, the nonprofit is attempting to stop plastic pollution where it starts. According to their research, approximately 80 percent of ocean plastic washes out of 1,000 rivers across the globe. They have designed and begun deploying river boats dubbed “Interceptors” that can funnel and collect trash from these rivers before it ever has the chance to enter the ocean. Two Interceptors are already operating in Indonesia and Malaysia. Over the next five years, The Ocean Cleanup plans to build and deploy a full 1,000 Interceptors — one in each of the top polluting rivers. Watch an Interceptor in action below. Still curious? Learn more about The Ocean Cleanup.

Old Valentine’s Flowers Go in the Green Waste

flowers

Ready to toss your Valentine’s Day flowers? Don’t throw them away! Toss them in with your organics (Green Waste Cart) instead.

When you put flowers and other organics in your Green Waste Cart, they’re composted to create healthy new soil. Healthy soil plays a lot of important roles in our environment, including absorbing and filtering water, as well as transferring nutrients to new plant life.

Want to Keep Your Flowers Longer?

Take good care of the stems. First, give your flowers some type of sugar for nutrition. Put a little bit of sugar in the vase water, whether it’s the plant food packet that came with your flowers, a little granulated sugar from your cupboard, or some honey or maple syrup. Any amount between one teaspoon and two tablespoons will do. Second, change the water every other day, or anytime it begins to look cloudy, and trim the ends of the stems at the same time so they can continue to absorb the water and nutrients.

Dry or press your blooms. Keep the memory of a special day alive by preserving your bouquet. To dry flowers naturally, hang them upside down in a dark, dry spot, such as an attic or closet. You can also dry flowers by pressing them. Place the blooms between heavy books, such as dictionaries or encyclopedias, with a paper or cardboard lining to absorb moisture. Check the flowers’ progress once a week, and change the liner each time. Both drying and pressing flowers takes roughly 2-4 weeks. Find more tips for creating beautiful dried flowers — without using chemicals or creating extra waste — from Wellness Mama.

Buy potted flowers instead. Keep the Valentine’s Day vibe strong all year with a live plant. With proper care, not only can it brighten your home — and mood — for years, it can even clean the air for you. After all, what’s more romantic than watching your love grow?

National Battery Day: Did You Know It’s Dangerous to Throw Batteries Away?

batteries

Batteries: A standardized and portable source of power that can bring electricity anywhere you want to go. From starting your car in the morning to powering a flashlight during an unexpected power outage, their convenience is undeniable. However, batteries can also be very dangerous if not disposed of properly. Here is what you need to know.

Batteries, especially the lithium-ion rechargeable type that come in most portable electronics, pose a very serious fire risk when disposed of improperly. When batteries end up at a trash or recycling facility they often get punctured or crushed, which can damage the separation between the cathode and anode, causing them to catch fire or explode. These fires can have devastating consequences, such as the fire at San Mateo’s Materials Recovery Facility in 2016, which burned the entire plant to the ground. Batteries — and devices that contain them — need to be disposed of as e-waste or hazardous waste so they can be carefully handled to prevent these fires.

In addition to the fire danger, batteries can also contain toxic chemicals, including lithium, cadmium, sulfuric acid and lead. If disposed of improperly, these toxic chemicals can leach into the soil and contaminate the groundwater.

For these reasons, it is illegal to put batteries in the garbage or mix them in with the rest of your recycling. Luckily, recycling batteries is easy. Follow these links to our Recycling Guide to find out how to easily dispose of each type of battery.

When storing used batteries prior to recycling, please use caution to keep batteries from short-circuiting, overheating or sparking.

You can either:

  • Place each battery in a separate clear plastic bag, or;
  • Use clear packing tape, electrical tape or duct tape to tape the ends of the batteries to prevent battery ends from touching one another or striking against metal surfaces, then place the batteries in a clear plastic bag.

Avoid storing batteries in a metal container.

Looking to save some money? Try using rechargeable batteries in place of single-use alkaline batteries. Rechargeable batteries will work in almost all the same applications, provide similar battery life, and can be recharged hundreds of times — making them far more cost-effective and eco-friendly than single-use batteries. Just make sure to use single-use batteries for emergency devices such as smoke detectors.

Happy National Battery Day!

Ask the Experts: How to Recycle Peanut Butter Jars — A Sticky Subject

Peanut Butter Jars
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Q: How do I recycle my peanut butter jars?
—Rita

A: We’ve all been there. You’ve just spread the last scoop of peanut butter on your PB&J sandwich only to be confronted with a challenge: a recyclable container that is too dirty to recycle. Don’t stress — we’ve got you covered. Read over these three simple steps to get that sticky jar recycle-ready.

1. Scrape

Using a spatula or other utensil, remove as much peanut butter from the jar as possible. Alternatively, if you have a dog, consider letting them lick the leftover peanut butter out of the jar in lieu of scraping it out.

2. Soak & Shake

Fill the jar one-third of the way full with warm water and a drop of soap, then replace the cap and let it soak for five minutes. Shake vigorously for twenty seconds, drain and rinse. At this point, only a small amount of oily residue will be left in the jar.

3. Dry

Set the jar upside down in a drying rack or on the edge of the sink to drip dry. Once the jar is dry, replace the cap and it is ready to recycle. If your peanut butter jar is made of glass, recycle the lid separately from the jar.

Not a peanut butter person? These steps will also work for other nut and seed butter jars, as well as most other hard-to-clean jars.

What to Do With All That Meal Kit Packaging

1-26-2020

So it’s 2020 and you’ve resolved to make this the year you start cooking more and eating better. You’ve signed up for your first meal kit and made some tasty dishes, but now you’re wondering what to do with all that packaging. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with this quick guide on how to properly dispose of all your meal kit packaging.


Paper and Cardboard

The cardboard box your meals are shipped in, cardboard dividers, paper trays and recipe cards are all made of paper. These pieces of your meal kit can be placed in the recycling. However, if these items become wet or food-soiled on their way to your house or while you’re cooking, they should be tossed in the trash.


Ice Packs

These guys do a great job of keeping your food from spoiling while it’s shipped to your home, but they also require some attention to be disposed of properly. Gel from ice packs will cause bad clogs in your drains, so make sure this gel doesn’t get washed down a sink or flushed down a toilet. Reuse your ice pack! Stick the ice pack back in your freezer, and then toss it in a cooler to chill drinks or food whenever you’re camping, tailgating or hosting. That way you won’t have to buy as many bags of ice at the store.

If you aren’t going to reuse the ice pack, you can toss your ice pack in the garbage.


Plastic Bags

Often containing vegetables, spices and sauces, these bags should be dropped off with other plastic bags once they are clean and dry or tossed in the garbage.


Plastic Clamshells, Jars and Bottles

This is where things can get a bit tricky. Luckily, most, if not all, the plastic containers in your meal kit will be clearly labeled with a plastic resin number to help you identify the type of plastic. From there you can use our Recycling Guide to find out how you should dispose of each type of plastic. Keep in mind, items smaller than the lid on a standard peanut butter jar are too small to recycle and must be put in the trash. Have some plastic that’s not recyclable? Upcycle it! Check out this video by Purple Carrot for some fun ideas.


Food Scraps

Cooking at home creates food scraps. Potato peels, scallion ends and other food scraps can be tossed in with your green waste.

Find something in your meal kit that isn’t mentioned here? Look it up in our handy Recycling Guide.


Food for Thought

Feel like you’re finally getting the hang of cooking at home? Save those recipe cards, or find some new recipes on the web, and try cooking without the meal kit. Plan out your meals ahead of time to minimize food waste and remember to bring your reusable bags and produce bags to the store. Bon appétit!

What Happens When “Tanglers” Get in the Recycling (Video)

1-19-2020

What happens when “tanglers” get into the recycling? They bring equipment at the recycling facility to a full stop.

“Tanglers” are long or stretchy items, including plastic bags, clothing & textiles, bedding, bungee cords, garden hoses, electrical cords & cables, and Christmas lights.

Watch this video to see what happens when everything gets “Tangled Up.”

Give Your Garbage Collector a Brake

1-12-2020

In the U.S., we toss out more than 250 million tons of garbage every year. Unfortunately, once all that trash is tossed to the curb, it’s a dangerous job to pick it up.

Collecting garbage is one of the top five most dangerous jobs in America. The fatal injury rate is higher than it is for police officers, firefighters, construction workers and miners.

So what can we do to help keep our garbage collectors safe? Drive safely! Being struck by a motorist is a leading cause of death for garbage truck drivers. Luckily, with proper awareness, it’s completely preventable.

First, slow down when approaching collection trucks. Stop if necessary to allow them to do their job. Not only are garbage collectors trying to focus on doing their job, they are also dealing with limited visibility, loud noises, and — compared to the average vehicle — relatively complicated machinery.

Second, give trucks and workers plenty of space. If you pass a truck, check for workers on the ground first. Then check for traffic coming from the opposite direction. If it’s all clear, move over in the road to create a safe distance between you and the truck. Don’t try to pass a garbage truck if there isn’t room, if there is oncoming traffic, or if the visibility is poor.

Third, stay alert while passing a collection truck. Don’t accelerate while passing, and avoid distractions such as texting, using a GPS or radio until you have safely made it around the truck.

Follow these steps and you’ll make your neighborhood garbage collector’s job a whole lot safer.