Donate old cell phones. About 130 million mobile phones are retired every year, resulting in more than 65,000 tons of waste―including potentially hazardous materials, such as lead and mercury. Recycle yours with Call2Recycle.org (log on to find a drop-off location near you) or programs like collectivegood.com (a clearinghouse for nonprofit phone-recycling efforts) to benefit groups such as the American Red Cross.
Recycle wisely. The good news: Americans already recycle about a third of their trash (double what was recycled in 1990). The not-so-good news: We need to do more and save more energy (see Reducing, Reusing, Recycling 101). To learn which items you can leave out for curbside pickup, and how to dispose of those you can’t, log on to earth911.org for contact info for local recyclers of more than 250 materials―from cooking oil to hazardous waste (including batteries).
Reuse everything. Change your mind-set and think twice before throwing anything out. Resealable plastic bags that held carrots today can hold crayons tomorrow. Coffee-cup cardboard sleeves from this morning’s brew can be tucked in a purse pocket to be used again at 4 p.m. Mom might just like that cashmere sweater you’re sick of wearing. And Fido doesn’t know the difference between a new chew toy and the one you make yourself out of old dish towels.