National Garden Clubs | Recycling

Recycling initiative: the next steps

Going beyond curbside pickup: renew, reuse, reduce, reclaim

Many states have developed successful recycling programs for our original initiative to keep empty laser and ink jet cartridges and used cell phones out of the landfills. Some states have received refunds from recycling companies; some have turned in cartridges to local businesses which give credit toward future purchases; some have adopted police or abused women programs which give out cell phones for protective purposes. We want to continue these projects that have been successful, and broaden our recycling efforts in this current year.

We are asking individual garden clubs and districts to look beyond curbside pickup for local organizations that will take items that are discarded every day, and recycle or reuse those articles. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Recycle rechargeable batteries: www.rbrc.org or www.call2recycle.org (nationwide stores such as Best Buy, Circuit City, Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot, Radio Shack, Staples & Target)
  • Multiple unwanted articles: www.freecycle.org (e-bay without the price tag-no money changes hands!)
  • Gently worn shoes: www.soles4souls.org distributes shoes to the needy in 60 countries worldwide
  • Worn athletic shoes: Nike "Reuse-A-Shoe" program makes "Nike Grind" from old athletic shoes to produce playground and sport surfaces. Contact Nike at www.letmeplay.com/reuseashoe
  • Packing peanuts: take to UPS or other mailing centers. For the closest business to you, call the "Peanut Hotline" at (800) 828-2214
  • Coat hangers: take to a local cleaner or use for wreath frames
  • Plastic Containers: contact local preschools, elementary schools, and craft groups
  • Grass clippings and leaves: Compost!
  • Pine needles-use as mulch
  • Film canisters: check with high school science departments; use for crafts or seed storage
  • Clothing: Disabled American Veterans, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Purple Heart; homeless shelters
  • Mesh bags: store flower bulbs
  • Plastic bags: eliminate these eyesores from our landscape! Supply your own cloth bags for groceries or whatever else you purchase

Garden Club Recycling Ideas Roundup

Many new recycling ideas are being developed and shared as local clubs are looking for ways to preserve and protect our environment.  Here are some of the responses from garden club members and other sources:

  • Bring your own mug to meetings for tea and coffee (save $ and styrofoam)
  • Use reusable "laundry balls" in dryer instead of softener sheets (from 7thDistrict, Federated Garden Clubs of New York State)
  • Donate gently used books for public library used book sale
  • Collect metal can pull tabs for Ronald McDonald House recycle program (from Bowmansville Garden Club, District 8, New York State)
  • New-type used screw-shaped light bulbs-Home Depot will accept them (from Garden Club of Ohio, Pat Rupiper)
  • Some Aveda salons (call first) will accept plastic bottle caps, which are recycled by the company into new caps for their products (from The Garden Club of New Jersey, Wini Applegate and Idaho Horticulture Society, Idaho Garden Clubs, Joanne Lechner)
  • Vermiculture (red wiggler worms) recycle all kitchen waste except meat & dairy (from The Pedal Pushers, Idaho Garden Clubs) 
  • Old magazines, periodicals, trade publications and books-take to "Friends of the Library" bookstores (from Riviera Garden Club, California Garden Clubs, Kay Kanuit)
  • Broken pottery and dishes-use as drainage in flower pots; make a garden border out of old plates (from Golden Garden Club, Idaho Garden Clubs, Happy Ford)
  • Buy less, especially disposable products
  • Don't idle your vehicle more than 10 seconds, to reduce air pollution
  • Unplug Wall Warts (rechargers, TVs & appliances not in use)-"Standby electricity" eats up energy and is polluting (from Glee Mania & Company, Fairfax, Virginia, Sue Cournoyer)
  • Start seeds in the toe of a sock-done by a 100-year-old lady with a super garden
  • Take plastic plant pots and trays to nearby nurseries & garden centers
  • Plastic liners from cereal boxes make great covers for microwave dishes
  • Use old jeans to make stuffed teddy bears (from Sun Prairie Garden Club, Wisconsin Garden Club Federation, Diane Powelka)
  • Use egg cartons to start seeds; fill with single servings of baby food, freeze till needed
  • Put dryer lint out for the birds to build nests
  • Clear plastic containers from salad bars:  cut in half and use under flower pots (from Tanta-Cove Garden Club, National Capital Area Garden Clubs)
  • Plastic newspaper bags:  insert hand and arm like a glove, grab poison ivy to uproot it, pull bag down over the plant, and tie a knot with poison ivy inside.   Place in trash! (from Rockshire Garden Club, National Capital Area Garden Clubs)
  • Keep tires properly inflated.  Your car loses about 1% of fuel efficiency for every 3 lbs. of pressure less than what is recommended
  • While waiting for faucet water to warm up, catch that running water in a bucket and use it to water plants
  • Print on both sides of paper, or save documents electronically instead of printing (from Southern Living magazine)

Watch the NGC website for a Recycle Initiative listing of additional suggestions, items, and places which can be used. If you would like to share your club's ideas, please send them by email or "snail mail" to your State Recycle Chairman or to the NGC Recycle Chairman Patricia Grossi. Include website locations if available. We will add to our list as we receive your comments!