Americans generate an average of 4.6 pounds of garbage per person each day.
Read on to learn how you can reduce your consumption and put your waste to good use!

Personal Recycling (clothing, shoes, eyeglasses)

Household Recycling (food, junk mail, cards, packaging, appliances, furniture, home-made cleaning products)

Business/Home Office Recycling

Electronics Recycling (batteries, cell phones, computers)

Transportation Recycling (cars, bikes)

Building Recycling (paint, materials)

NC Recycling:  Did you know?

Add’l Reuse and Recycling Info

Non-Toxic Cleaners


City of Raleigh Garbage, Recycling, and Yardwaste FAQ’s, garbage schedules, and recycling information Find organizations that recycle, reuse and dispose of just about anything! See Apex Public Works for recycling options See Cary Public Works for recycling options See Fuquay Varina Public Works for recycling options See Holly Springs Public Works for recycling options See Knightdale Public Works for recycling options See Morrisville Public Works for recycling options See Raleigh Solid Waste Services for recycling options See Rolesville Utilities Management for recycling options See Wake Forest Public Works for recycling options See Wendell Public Works for recycling options See Zebulon Public Works for recycling options

Alternative Recycling Resources Visit site to find a list of outlets for materials not accepted by the City. Helps you find resources in your city/zip code for recycling a variety of items Supplies you with TechnoTrash cans to fill with byte-sized technotrash and return to the GreenDisk for recycling.  Also sells cds in recycled jewel cases, other recycled techno-products.


Business Attire: If you have women’s business suits or clothing appropriate for job interviews, particularly size 14 and up, you can donate them to Dress for Success, an international organization that provides outfits to homeless and jobless women for interviews and new jobs.

Clothing, Socks, and Shoes:

  • Take proper care of shoes and clothing and repair them to extend use.
  • Don’t discard usable clothing or household items. Hold a yard sale or donate the items to charitable organizations (Salvation Army, Goodwill, Helping Hands Mission, etc.). Worn clothing and other textiles can be used as rags or for craft projects.
  • buy socks made from recycled soda bottles!

Formal Wear: Got an old gown you’ll never wear again? The Glass Slipper Project in Chicago collects formal wear (dresses-particularly size 16 and up-shoes, and accessories) for teenage girls who can’t afford new prom dresses.

Meredith College in Raleigh, NC has sponsored several such collection events, as well.

Tennis Shoes: If your old running shoes are in good shape, Shoes for Africa, a Colorado organization, will send them to runners, schools, and orphanages in Africa, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program allows you to drop off old sneakers (they don’t have to be Nike) at all Niketown stores and select retailers.  The shoes are broken down and reused in athletic surfaces.

Accessories: Purchase jewelry, handbags, and household items made from recycled products


Lions Clubs International, 800.747.4448 donates eyeglasses to underprivileged people in the States and abroad

LensCrafters stores donates eyeglasses to underprivileged people in the States and abroad


Before you make that purchase:

  • can you borrow or rent the item?
  • Can you purchase with a friend and share?
  • Do you have a broken one that can be repaired?
  • If you really have to buy, can you buy something that can be upgraded rather than be replaced in the future?
  • Can you sell your old one on FreeCycle, Craig’s List, or eBay, rather than discarding?  Or can you donate it to someone in need


  • Bring strong, reusable cloth bags on trips to the grocery store. Neither paper nor plastic is as good as a shopping bag that you can use over-and-over again.
  • Buy whole fruits and vegetables, rather than pre-cut selections that come in plastic bags or containers. Apply this basic principle to other types of pre-prepared selections.
  • Choose cereal in bags, not in boxes. When you get a box of cereal, you’re usually getting cereal that comes in a plastic bag, and is then placed inside a box. That’s just a waste. Try to find products that contain the minimum amount of packaging necessary to get the job done.
  • Stay away from individually-wrapped items. There are times when “snack packs” and cans of soda are particularly convenient, but you can save oodles of money and packaging waste by purchasing the big bag of chips or the two-liter bottle.
  • Buy bulk. When purchasing laundry detergent, bottled water or what-have-you, the largest package possible typically has the lowest unit cost and utilizes the least packaging material. You also save time, money and energy by having to take less frequent trips back to the store.  (Don’t need that much?  Get together and share with friends!)
  • Preference items packaged in materials that are easily recyclable. It doesn’t matter that some strange plastic can be recycled somewhere. Know what materials are conveniently recycled in your own neighborhood. Other materials are too likely to end up in the trash.
  • Reuse what you can. Things like glass jars and plastic bottles can be re-used before they’re recycled. Many grocery stores — particularly co-ops — will sell generic items like beans, grains, honey, syrup, peanut butter and more at a discounted bulk rate if you bring your own.
  • Buy concentrated products to reduce packaging. Examples are concentrated fruit juice, laundry detergent, fabric softener and window cleaner.
  • Avoid buying packaged foods with disposable, nonreheatable microwave dishes. If you must buy them, the dishes can be re-used as picnic plates, plant saucers or pet dishes.
  • If your favorite brands have excessive packaging or are not as durable as they should be, contact the manufacturers and express your concern about reducing waste and conserving natural resources.

Household Items:

  • Buy durable products instead of those that are disposable or cheaply made.
  • Repair/restore used items before replacing them.
  • Buy items you can re-use.
  • Buy items you can recycle locally through curbside collection or recycling centers.
  • Put paper towels out of easy reach so they will be used only when needed. Set up a countertop or wall holder for sponges, rags and cloth towels.
  • Buy products that are durable, well-made and repairable. Check warranties, repair services and availability of parts and accessories. Read consumer magazines (your library probably carries copies) to learn which products are more durable and have longer warranties.
  • Reduce toxic waste by purchasing paints, pesticides and other hazardous materials only in the quantities needed, or by sharing leftovers.
  • Use plug-in appliances instead of those that operate on batteries. Disposable batteries are discarded after one use. Rechargeable batteries are the largest source of cadmium in the municipal waste stream.
  • Americans throw away about 2.5 billion disposable razors every year. Use an electric shaver or a quality razor with replaceable blades.
  • Bar soap generates less packaging waste and is less expensive than liquid soap in plastic bottles with pump dispensers.
  • Purchase accessories and household items made from recycled products

Excess Paper/Junk Mail/Credit Card offers:

  • Too much junk mail? Contact the Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association (PO Box 643, Carmel NY 10512-0643)
  • If you receive mail from a marketer who does not subscribe to the Mail Preference Service, write directly to the company to remove your name. Enclose an address label from previously sent mail; the coding on the label will help the company locate your name on their list.
  • Letters and other correspondence that are printed on one side only can be cut along the folds and re-used to make shopping lists.
  • Cancel subscriptions to magazines or newspapers you don’t actually read, especially if you could read them at the local library. Give old issues to friends, co-workers, nursing homes, laundromats or libraries.
  • There’s also a toll-free number to stop mailings of credit card offers. One call to 1-888-5-OPT-OUT will reach the major national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Have your Social Security number ready — they will ask you for it to confirm your identity.

Greeting Cards: Whether you’ve decided to purge your old birthday cards or you’re buried under hose blank cards charities send out at this time of year, you don’t’ have to throw them out.  Send them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a home and recreation center for abused, neglected, and disadvantaged children in Nevada.  Volunteers among the kids take the fronts (unwritten on) from used cards and attach them to new backs to make recycled cards for sale.  A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the kids and their college fund.  Contact: St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, 100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV 89005-1618

Packaging Materials:

Mail Boxes Etc.  (and other packaging stores) Most Mail Boxes Etc. stores accept clean foam packing peanuts and bubble wrap.

Appliances: Take your oven, washer, dryer, or other large electric and steel appliances to a Steel Recycling Institute drop-off site.  Some cities even have yearly pickup weeks.  Recycled appliances are reduced to scrap, which is melted down in steel mills and foundries to produce new steel.  If the appliance is in good working order, call local soup kitchens or shelters to see if they can put it to use.

Furniture: Ronald McDonald House charities provide homes for the families of hospital-bound kids and are always looking for gently used furniture.  Local homeless shelters often need sofas, desks, and chairs.

Artwork: Raleigh photographer also makes beautiful, rustic photo frames from found objects. Raleigh artist Jeanne Rhea creates amazing sculpture from found objects.

BUSINESS/HOME OFFICE RECYCLING America’s Green Office Supply Store allows to purchase a variety of recycled products for your home and office.


Batteries: for mores about rechargeable battery recycling The best strategy is to buy rechargeable batteries whenever possible and reuse them (you can buy a re-charger for $15 to $40 at home centers and office supply stores).  When they’re finally spent, recycle rechargeables at Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, Radioshack, Wal-Mart, or Home Depot.  Battery Solutions Inc., a Michigan-based company, will ensure that single use batteries don’t end up in landfills.  For a one-time fee of $8, they will ship you a 2-gallon container so you can deposit your batteries (the container holds up to 25 pounds) and mail it back.  They hand-sort the batteries, recycle them, and return the container to you.  You pay for shipping and a fee based on the quantity and type of batteries you’ve sent, typically about $17.  Return automobile batteries to auto shops.  They’ll recycle or dispose of them for you.

Cell Phones: If you’ve got one or more of the estimated 250 million unused mobile phones in America right now, don’t throw it away—cell phones contain toxins that can contaminate water supplies.  Call to Protect, a joint initiative by the wireless industry and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, collects cell phones, fixes them, and donates them to women at risk for abuse.  The cell phones are programmed with emergency numbers and links to local shelters.  You can also send phones to CollectiveGood, a nonprofit that gives them to economically disadvantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Computers: Like cell phones, computers contain toxins such as lead and mercury that can leach into groundwater supplies if left in landfills.  The National Cristina Foundation in Greenwich, Connecticut, collects and donates used computers to hundreds of prescreened foundations, such as Patch Worx (which donates computers to critically ill children so that they can communicate with each other and the outside world).  You can also donate a computer through Share the Technology, an organization that lists specific equipment requests from schools and community organizations.  You might be giving away exactly what they’re looking for.  Don’t forget to check with your local county recycling program to see if they can accept your old computer or monitor!


  • Use carpools or public transit to extend the wear of cars and tires and reduce car maintenance wastes such as used oil.

Automotive: For a substantial tax write-off, consider donating instead of selling or trading in your old car.  The IRS allows you to deduct the retail value quoted in any widely used guidebook, as long as it’s under $5000. (If it’s over $5000, you’ll need an independent appraisal.)  Your write-off value will probably be much greater than the trade-in-value, and you won’t need to waste money on repairs or time haggling with dealers or buyers. You can also donate your car to a shelter, church, or theater group.  These groups often need cars to pick up clients or transport supplies.  Make sure the group you choose is qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions before making the donation, and ask them to provide a written acknowledgment that includes a description of the car.  Guidestar offers a list of 850,000 IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations. Recycling the motor oil from one oil change protects a million gallons of drinking water, according to the American Petroleum Institute.  Most service stations that change oil will also take and sagely dispose of used motor oil free of charge. Why burn gas when you can burn leftover cooking oil?!  Read more about biodiesel benefits and uses.

Bicycles:,, No matter how old or beat up, there are lots of organizations that want your old bike.  Most community bike shops across the country host Recycle-a-Bicycle or Earn-a-Bike programs that try to get kids off the street by teaching them to restore bikes and eventually giving them one to fix up for themselves.  In Seattle, the International Bicycle Fund (IBF) sponsors the Village Bicycle Project, which will take your old bicycle, repair it, and send it to Africa, where people are in desperate need of reliable transportation.  The IBF also provides links to “bike libraries” (which lend bikes in cities like Denver; Portland, Oregon; and Olympia, Washington) and youth bike programs around the country that are looking for donations.  In addition, most Kiwanis Clubs collect and give bikes to disadvantaged children as Christmas gifts. 

BUILDING Your old cabinet parts, drywall, plumbing fixtures, doors, flooring, and windows are not just recyclable, they’re reusable.  Habitat for Humanity is always looking for usable building material (and tools) visit the Habitat ReUse Center in Raleigh, NC

Paint: Few large-scale programs exist to make use of leftover interior and exterior paint.  In Oregon, Paint Back uses donated paint to cover graffiti.  You may find a taker locally if you check with churches, theater groups, schools, or Habitat for humanity.  To store leftover paint-for your own or someone else’s use-place a sheet of plastic wrap under the lid, shut it tightly, and then store the can upside down in a cool place.  The paint forms an airtight seal that will keep the contents fresh for years.  Contact: Paint Back, 503.588.5169, ext. 5991;, to find out more about recycling paint in your area.


Call ‘em facts, stats, quibs, or little ditties, but here are the ins and outs of recycling in North Carolina.

If one-third of North Carolina’s households sent junk mail reduction cards to the Mail Preference Association, it would save North Carolina local governments almost $1.3 million in disposal fees per year.

Making products from recovered materials instead of virgin materials saves energy. For aluminum cans, the energy saved is more than 90 percent, for newspaper 40 percent and for steel 60 percent.

North Carolinians recycle 68 pounds of materials a second. That’s impressive! But we throw away 679 pounds of trash a second. That’s almost 10 times what we recycle.

Nearly all the steel made in the United States and in the world is made from scrap.

Recycling in North Carolina is a job creator and a growing part of our state’s economy. Recycling employs more than 13,000 North Carolinians and recycling jobs have increased about 48 percent in the last 10 years.

With the amount of trash North Carolinians throw away, we would fill enough Dumpsters to line the length of N.C.’s Interstate 40 more than six times in one year. That’s 2,555 miles of Dumpsters each year.

Steel is one of the most recycled materials with a 64 percent national recycling rate. Many steel products are recycled at a high rate in North Carolina, though less than 20 percent of steel cans were recovered in 2001.

Each month, North Carolinians throw out glass that would fill up more than 13 miles worth of tractor-trailers lined up end-to-end. That’s a half marathon of tractor-trailers each month!

Glass bottles can be used hundreds of times over to make new bottles. North Carolina has three glass plants capable of consuming thousands of tons of “cullet” or recovered glass.

Newspaper and corrugated cardboard are the highest recycled types of paper – in North Carolina, we recycle 57 percent of all newspaper and 50 percent of all cardboard.

Only half of aluminum cans are recycled despite a statewide disposal ban on the material. Other items banned from disposal in North Carolina landfills include whole tires, appliances (white goods), yard waste, lead acid batteries, used oil and antifreeze.

Aluminum and glass companies rely heavily on secondary materials for their product, and many plastics manufacturers also depend on recovered material.

North Carolinians throw away more than $20 million in aluminum cans each year.

Every 43 days, North Carolinians throw away enough trash to fill Dumpsters lining the entire North Carolina coastline.

The amount of trash North Carolinians throw away in just five and a half days would fill Dumpsters that reach as high as Mount Mitchell. That’s 6,684 feet!

Each week, N.C. workplaces throw away enough potentially recyclable office paper to fill two soccer fields three feet deep.

Almost 80 percent of U.S. paper mills rely on recovered recycled paper. In fact it supplies 37 percent of their material.

The amount of waste disposed in North Carolina has increased from 6.8 million tons in 1991 to 10.23 million tons in 2003.

The state picked up more than one pound of litter for each of the state’s 8.4 million citizens in 2003, according to figures released by the state Department of Transportation. You can help report litterbugs by reporting the license plate of a car and the date and location of an incident to the DOT. Forms can be obtained by calling (800) 331-5864 or reports can be made here.

Ultimately, the major industrial sectors would suffer severe difficulties if the supply of recycled materials suddenly disappeared.

In 1994, our state had 306 recycling companies. In 2004, we had 532 recycling businesses in North Carolina, a 74 percent rise in only 10 years. That means more materials are being recovered, more jobs are being created, and more money is flowing through our economy – all because of recycling!

A 20 percent increase in recycling would create as many as 500 new jobs, according to information from the 1994 study.

North Carolina recycles 26 percent of its waste stream, composts 6 percent, sends 67 percent to landfills and incinerates 1 percent.

North Carolinians throw away enough trash to fill Dumpsters from Boone to Bald Head every 47 days.

*Unless stated, all facts are from DPPEA or DENR 2003 data, and are referenced by

ADDITIONAL REUSE AND RECYCLING INFORMATION EPA’s Consumer’s Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste (suitable for children as well as adults) EPA’s Puzzled About Recycling’s Value?  Look Beyond the Bin GreenTreks Television’s “EnviroArt” Video GreenWorks for Pennsylvania Television’s “Dealing with Waste” video Plenty Magazine, where it IS easy (and pretty darn cool!) being green! Purchase reusable grocery bags, veggie storage bags, lunch bags, and a variety of other great reusable products! The Unnatural Resources Institute is a place for you to display your creations and inventions made from normally discarded materials or leftovers from a larger project.  Get creative!


Uses for vinegar:

  • Clean Windows:  mix 2T with 1qt water
  • Clean Copper:  mix with salt
  • Air Freshener: open flat container
  • Floor Cleaner: mix 1 cup with 2 gallons water

Uses for baking soda:

  • Clean Oven: mix with salt
  • Clean Tub/Tile: use with hot water
  • Clean Silver:  mix with salt and water; soak with aluminum foil
  • Diaper Presoak: mix 3T in warm water
  • Absorb Grease: dry
  • Carpet Deodorizer:  dry

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • Mix 1 gallon hot water, 1 cup sudsy ammonia, ¼ cup vinegar, and 1T baking soda.

See your neighbors littering instead of recycling?  Get their license plate number and report them to the NCDOT’s Swat a Litterbug Program!