Plastic is everywhere. It packages our food, it makes the utensils we use to cook our food, it makes the plates we eat our food on. It’s inescapable. So what’s an alternative?

While plastic is made from petroleum and natural gas, bioplastics are made from renewable biomass, including sources such as animal fats and cornstarch. The idea of these bioplastics is not biodegradability (not all bioplastics biodegrade, although some do) but to create items from sustainable resources, so that we can continue to make them even when fossil fuels run out. Bioplastics tend to require less fossil fuel in production, and usually introduce fewer greenhouse emissions when biodegrading.

While these are all good things – renewable resources, less emissions, etc. – we are still relying on fossil fuels. We use them to power farm machinery, to produce fertilizers, to transport the crops to a factory, and even to craft them into bioplastics. The use of fossil fuels has become so ingrained in our society that one green invention still relies heavily on a system that is much less green. But it’s a small step, and a start, and sometimes it takes these small steps to get the ball rolling.



Athletic Shoes

Nike collects worn-out athletic shoes and uses pre-consumer shoe waste to make a material called Nike Grind, which is made of rubber, foam, and fabric. The material is used to make athletic and playground surfaces. 1.5 million pairs of shoes are collected each year.

The Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Program accepts shoes of any brand. They can be brought to a Reuse-A-Shoe collection location (at most Nike and Converse retail stores) or mailed to Nike’s recycling facility. They do not accept sandals, flip-flops, dress shoes, boots, or shoes with metal like cleats. If the shoes still have life in them, consider bringing them to a thrift store or other clothing collections.



Tennis Balls

Project Green Ball accepts old tennis balls with no bounce in them and is working on creating different surfaces with them. So far, it has created two equestrian arena turfs, and they are working on making tennis-ball based playgrounds.



Caps-n-cups accepts cleaned caps from soda bottles, shampoo, milk jugs, etc.



The Recycling Center of America accepts and recycles CDs, DVDs, and even cracked CD cases and sleeves. The only price you pay is to ship them.



Keys for Kindness accepts keys and melts them down to scrap metal. The metal is sold and all profits are donated to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis.


Wine Corks

Wine corks are collected by this group to protect the cork trees. The cork is recycled into many different products, depending upon the material. They have a wide array of drop-off locations, and likely one very close to you!


Do you have electronics that no longer work? Consider dropping them off at Staples or Best Buy.

Staples offers quotes for old technology devices, and will pay you in Staples rewards. For devices no longer working, Staples will accept them for free and recycle them, even if they were purchased somewhere else. Staples accepts many items including computers, keyboards, shredders, DVD players, and rechargeable batteries.

A list of items Staples accepts for recycling can be found here: http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/marketing/easy-on-the-planet/recycling-and-eco-services.html

Staples also accepts empty ink and toner cartridges. You get $2 in Staple Rewards for each one.

Best Buy accepts a wide array of electronics for recycling, including TVs, rechargeable batteries, video game gadgets, and cameras. For the full list, see:


For every minute Best Buy stores are open, they collect more than 400 pounds of product for recycling.