Recycling Jewelry to Benefit Kansas City Hospice House

by Kathleen Corbin, Top Drawer

Buying used from a resale boutique is a great way to live a more sustainable lifestyle and help a local charity at the same time.

Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care operates a quality, up-scale boutique that sells jewelry, clothing and home décor. All of the proceeds from store sales support Kansas City Hospice and The Hospice House. Our store, Top Drawer, is located at 9433 Mission Road, Leawood, KS 66206.

We started a jewelry recycling program a couple of years ago. You can donate all your old jewelry to Top Drawer, even if it is not in tip-top shape. We resell all of the pieces that are in good condition, repair the broken ones, and take apart the rest, saving the components to make new jewelry. Nothing in our program is wasted. Broken brooches can become new pendants or collage necklaces, and beads can be reused in new necklaces or bracelets.

IMG_5417-10
A new piece of jewelry that was made from broken earrings, broken brooches and miscellaneous beads that came off of broken necklaces.

Here is a link to our You Tube Video, which explains a lot about our jewelry project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBM7MWLfSxw

We would love to have your jewelry, gently-worn clothing, shoes and home accessories! Your donations assist Kansas City Hospice in providing expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance and hope to the people of our community.

Melting myths about “wax-coated” food containers

If you’re like most recyclers, “wax-coated” paper food containers are a source of confusion for you. They’re obviously made of paper which you know is recyclable, but you’ve gotten mixed messages about their recyclability. Well, here’s the straight scoop: only one type is recyclable, and none are coated in wax.

The wax has waned

Most paper food containers that appear to be coated in wax are actually coated with polyethylene (PE) plastic. These containers are either made of fibers held together by a PE compound, or the container itself is lined with PE. The PE serves as a moisture and gas barrier. As a moisture barrier, it prevents transmission of liquids through the paper container. As a gas barrier, it prevents the absorption of gases in the air like oxygen and carbon dioxide, which can impact the freshness and quality of food products.

Types of containers

The most common types of PE-coated paper food containers you’re likely to come across are shown below. Cartons are the only type that are recyclable in your curbside bin or at your recycling center in the Kansas City metro area.

Image of group of five food products in cartons: Half-gallon of non-dairy drink, individual portion of soup in carton, small carton of egg nog, small protien drink in carton, quart-sized carton of broth.Cartons – These include milk, juice, soup, broth, and wine cartons, and drink boxes. These are 100 percent recyclable.

image of disposable paper coffee cup.Hot drinking cups – These are the disposable coffee cups used by all coffee shops. The only recyclable components are the plastic lids and cardboard sleeves.

Image of fast-food meal: fries in container, burger in box, and disposable, soft drink container.Fast food cups and containers – These are the containers in your average fast-food meal: soda cup, French fry holder, and sandwich box. (Only the plastic lid is recyclable. Straws are not.)

Image of stack of plastic-coated, paper platesTableware (plates, cups and bowls) – This is the classic disposable tableware often used at picnics and special events.

Image of two different types of restaurant-style, to-go/take-out boxes.Take-out containers – These can be anything from the Chinese takeout container to the takeout box used by your favorite restaurant.

Image of a group of frozen food containers: frozen, microwavable entree, frozen vegetable in freezer-safe box, pint-sized ice cream container, half-gallon ice cream container.Frozen food containers – This covers everything from frozen entrees to ice cream tubs.

Why aren’t they recyclable?

Paper that is going to be recycled is shipped to a paper mill where it is mixed with water in a giant blender called a hydropulper. The hydropulper processes the paper into a slurry suitable for making recycled paper products. If the paper has a PE coating, it is impossible to recycle in the standard pulp process because the container will not break apart and blend in with the slurry during recycling.

So, the burning question you may be asking: why are PE-coated cartons recyclable, but all the others aren’t? Cartons have a different fiber composition, and the PE-coating type decomposes enough to break apart during the pulping process.

Convenience vs. durability

So what can you do to reduce the amount of PE-coated paper products in your home? It comes down to opting for durability over convenience:

  • Coffee cups – Take a reusable mug with you to the coffee shop. Coffee shops usually give you a discount since you’re not using one of their cups.
  • Fast food containers – Avoid fast food for this reason, and for your health.
  • Tableware – Use durable tableware at your picnics and special events. This includes plates, bowls, cups, napkins, silverware, serving dishes and tablecloths.
  • Take-out containers – Take a plastic food storage container to the restaurant and box up your leftovers yourself.
  • Frozen food containers – Fresh food has little of the packaging waste associated with frozen food.

For more information on recycling, visit RecycleSpot.org.

green cleaning sponge on top of pair of orange cleaning gloves

Rid your home of dangerous chemicals

icons of bug spray, motor oil, 9-volt battery and paintThe can of bug spray on the shelf… the toilet cleaner and drain opener in the cabinet… the old gas, lawn chemicals and paint stored in the garage… these products are all considered hazardous because the chemicals they contain pose a threat to human health and the environment.

Hazardous waste generated at your home is called Household Hazardous Waste (HHW). HHW is any flammable, toxic, corrosive or reactive product labeled “Danger”, “Warning”, or “Caution”, and none of these should be tossed into the regular trash.

Even when used as directed, many household chemicals can endanger health and safety and pose risks to children, pets, communities, wildlife and the environment.

Fortunately, there are convenient ways to safely dispose of your HHW. And for many of these products, there are safe alternatives that are readily available, easy to use, and often cheaper than their more dangerous counterparts.

Safe disposal

Missouri residents who live in Cass, Clay, Platte, Jackson and Ray counties, have access to proper HHW disposal through the Regional Household Hazardous Waste Program. Residents who live in participating communities can dispose of HHW for no cost at one of two HHW facilities or numerous HHW collection events. Missouri residents who don’t live in participating communities can dispose of HHW for a fee at Summit Waste Systems in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

Kansas residents who live in Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, or Wyandotte counties can take their HHW to the HHW facility in their county for free.

Please note that these services are for residents only. Any hazardous waste not generated by a resident is classified as business hazardous waste by the states of Kansas and Missouri. This includes businesses, industry, manufacturing, rental property owners, nonprofits, governments, schools, churches, etc. It is illegal for these entities to take their hazardous waste to a residential collection facility or collection event. For more information, visit Business Hazardous Waste.

icons of baking soda, ecofriendly spray bottle, lemon wedge and spray bottleSafe alternatives

There are many safe alternatives to household chemicals. Baking soda, or Borax (a naturally occurring mineral) work well as mild, abrasive cleaners as alternatives to chlorine or silica-based scouring products. White vinegar is an all-purpose cleaner. It can be used on hard surfaces or glass as an alternative to ammonia-based cleaners and other corrosive products. Lemons are highly acidic, which makes them a strong cleaning agent. Plus, they provide a refreshing and clean scent.

For more information, including a list of recipes, visit Safe Alternatives.

Paints

Conventional paints contain several toxic chemicals: volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fungicides, biocides, and chemical pigments. When purchasing paint look for low VOC, low biocides and natural pigments.

Calculate the amount of paint you need for a project before buying to reduce the chance of running out before finishing the job, or having paint left over.

For more information on recycling, visit RecycleSpot.org.

Image of female blowing a dandelion gone to seed, with blowing seeds morphing into recycling symbols/chasing arrows. Photo by Robert Couse-Baker, CC 2.0.

When NOT to recycle

Have you ever put something in the recycling bin that you’re not sure about?

  • If you don’t know if it’s recyclable, but hope it is…
  • If it has a recycling symbol or label on it, so you assume it must be okay…
  • If you’re pretty sure it’s not recyclable, but hope that somewhere down the line someone will be able to recycle it…

…You might be a wishful recycler! You may have the best of intentions, but improper recycling can hurt more than it helps. Take time to learn what CAN be recycled in your area.

If it has a symbol, is it always recyclable?

In a word, no. Just because something has a recycling symbol on it, or says “recycle,” “recyclable,” or “recycled content” does not mean you can definitely recycle it in our metro area.

ChasingArrowQuestionMarkArtboard 1_RSblog-350pxThe numbers you see inside the recycling symbol on plastic bottles are resin codes developed by the plastics industry to help them properly sort plastics for recycling. In the Kansas City metro area, for example, milk jugs (#2) and yogurt containers (#5) are recyclable. However, Styrofoam takeout boxes (#6) and antifreeze bottles (#2) are not. Contact your hauler to find out which types of plastic can be thrown in the bin.

Some items that say they’re “recyclable” may be in other parts of the country, but it might not be true in our area if there is no local end market for reuse, too little value in the material, or both.

“Made from recycled content” doesn’t always mean an item can be recycled again. For example, you may find a ballpoint pen that says it’s “made from recycled bottles.” That’s great— buying recycled is essential to closing the recycling loop — but it doesn’t mean you can recycle the pen.

The unintended consequences of wishful recycling

When you put an item in your recycling bin that isn’t accepted by your curbside program or drop-off facility, you’re merely relocating your trash: now someone at the recycling facility will have to throw that item away. You may also inadvertently contaminate other recyclables in the bin, which can lower their value or negate it entirely.

How? Let’s say you throw a glass pickle jar in your curbside recycling bin, even though your program does not accept glass. As the glass gets crushed in the recycling truck, glass shards and dust contaminate all the other recyclables they touch, lowering their value. Or, let’s say you throw a half-full can of paint thinner in the bin because it comes in a metal can, and your program accepts metal cans. Once that can is crushed in the recycling truck, the paint thinner could contaminate enough of the recyclables that the whole load has to go to the landfill.

What’s the solution?

So, what can you do to avoid “wishful recycling”? Only put items in your recycling bin that your program accepts. To find this information:

  • Contact your hauler or check the label attached to the top of your recycling bin.
  • For plastics, check out our Plastics Recycling page which clearly explains the type of plastics that are and are not recyclable in the Kansas City metro area.
  • Give us a call: (816) 474-8326.

For more information on recycling, visit RecycleSpot.org.

Reuse and recycle your unwanted toys

It’s that time of year when new toys move in and old toys move out. Ensure that the old toys get a second life by reusing and recycling them instead of throwing them away.

Donate

Photo of bathroom sink counter with soap dispenser, plastic shark toy, and toothbrush holder made from Legos.Donating old toys is the easiest option. As long as toys are clean and in good working condition, you can donate them to thrift stores and local charities. Most large thrift stores offer pick up services. You can also drop your toys off at the nearest donation box (only toys that will easily fit in the box’s door).

Three organizations that accept toys for donation and work with local kids and families in need are Operation Breakthrough, Scraps KC and The Giving Brick.

Host a toy swap

Avoid the after-the-holiday blahs by hosting a toy swap. It is a great way to clean out the closet, help the environment, and help stave off you and your kids’ cabin fever.

Recycle electronic toys

Whether it’s a broken video game, remote control car or a Nerf Blaster, it’s all recyclable. Midwest Recycling Center and The Surplus Exchange both recycle all toys that run on batteries or a power cord. If you have a video game junkie in your home, you can recycle old gaming devices at Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot / Office Max.

Repurpose

Who knew toys can be made into a wreath, a toothbrush holder or bookends? Search “How to repurpose toys” on the internet, and you’ll find countless cool things to make from unwanted toys.

For more information on reuse and recycling, visit RecycleSpot.org.

Congratulations to our 2017 SWMD grantees!

One of the most important things the MARC Solid Waste Management District (SWMD) does is provide financial support to organizations on the Missouri side of our region for projects that reduce the amount of material we send to landfills. The district receives funding every year from the fees collected from the landfills and transfer stations in Missouri. Half of that amount is used to fund local waste reduction, reuse and recycling projects through a grant program. So far this year, we have awarded more than $407,146 to 11 grantees.

The 2017 grant projects so far include:

  • Avenue of Life:  $59,428 to support the fourth year of a regional mattress recycling program.
  • Bridging The Gap: $81,187 to provide one-on-one consultations and assistance to businesses interested in starting new or expanding existing recycling and composting programs.
  • City of Grandview:  $23,625 to purchase a recycling trailer for events and staffing for management and education.
  • Composting and Organics Association of Missouri: $8,202 to conduct a regional composting workshop.
  • Folk Alliance: $3,608 to support staffing, signage, and recycling and composting bags for the annual conference at the Westin Hotel in Kansas City.
  • Independence Avenue Community Improvement District:  $17,500 to purchase recycling containers and bags and provide recycling education on Independence Avenue in Kansas City.
  • Kansas City Chiefs: $21,981 to purchase dual containers to collect compostables and recyclables from fans.
  • Mid-America Regional Council:  $48,267 for Recycle More advertising and outreach.
  • Project Central: $120,708 to support the third year of consultations for school composting and/or recycling programs.
  • Scraps KC: $10,881 to provide support for a newly opened creative reuse store.
  • The Rehabilitation Institute:  $11,759 to support the sale of used books online.

We are very proud of our 2017 group of grant recipients and excited about their projects. The district could not accomplish its waste diversion goals without our grantees! Visit the Solid Waste Management District’s website to learn more about the grant program.

When autumn leaves start to fall

colorful leaf on a lawnRight about now your yard is likely filling up with leaves. But instead of raking, blowing, and bagging them, you can put these leaves to good use and help protect the environment: just mulch them with your lawn mower. Mulching provides a natural lawn fertilizer, helps prevent weed growth, conserves water and protects waterways from runoff pollution.

Some tips:

  • Mulch when leaves are dry or only slightly wet.
  • Set the mower blade to its highest setting.
  • Remove the bag that collects clippings.
  • With heavy leaf cover, you may need to make more than one pass. Make the second pass at right angles, perpendicular to the first.
  • Reduce leaf clutter to dime-size pieces.
  • You’re done when about half an inch of grass can be seen through mulched leaf layer.
    • If you’re done and can’t see any grass whatsoever, reattach the bag and go over the grass one last time to pick up some of the leaves. Place bagged leaves in your garden beds or compost pile.
  • Consider mulching on a weekly basis during the height of the season to prevent a challenging amount of leaves from accumulating.

You can mulch leaves with any type of lawn mower. If you prefer a mulching blade, they can be purchased at most hardware and home improvement stores.

If mulching isn’t an option, you can bring your leaves to a community collection center. Some yard waste drop-off facilities also offer residents opportunities to obtain mulch or compost at low cost. Search RecycleSpot to find a center near you.

A number of communities also offer curbside yard waste collection in addition to regular trash and recycling services. Search by community in RecycleSpot to see if your city has this service (and call to verify). If you don’t have municipal leaf and brush curbside collection, there are private companies that also manage lawn refuse. RecycleSpot includes a list of many providers; contact them to find out about costs and procedures.