Most of what we consume can be recycled, but not by the city of Phoenix. With a little bit of planning and research it's possible to find cleaner ways to dispose of hazardous items, even here in Ahwatukee Foothills.
Phoenix recycling is limited to blue bins and quarterly pick-up dates, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency recycling is much more than that.
Consumer electronics have become increasingly popular in past years but when they are not disposed of carefully they leak lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous wastes into our environment, according to the EPA. In 2006 the U.S. generated 2.9 million tons of e-waste. Of this, only 330,000 tons or 11.4 percent was recycled. Though the city will pick up old electronics quarterly there are other companies willing to take old electronics at any time.
Goodwill, 15633 S. 32nd St., accepts electronics working or not. If the items work, they are resold and if not they are sent to a metal company to be stripped down and reused. Envirosolve LLC, 2844 W. Broadway Road, will also accept any non working electronics to be disposed of properly. Residents can call (602) 276-7602 for pickup of larger items.
With more electronics also come more batteries. Most household batteries are considered non-hazardous and can be placed in the trash or replaced by rechargeable batteries, but once rechargeable batteries die they need to be disposed of carefully. Companies that sell these batteries will usually take them back once they are dead to ensure proper disposal. Radio Shack, 4722 E. Ray Road, and Best Buy, 5051 E. Ray Road, are just two examples of local companies that accept non-working batteries.
Another item the city of Phoenix cannot accept for recycling is anything containing hazardous household chemicals. Things like paint, drain and oven cleaners, antifreeze and used motor oil all need to be kept out of landfills.
The best way to avoid throwing away hazardous chemicals is to avoid them in the first place. Greenlivingideas.com has a recipe for cleaning a stubborn drain without hazardous chemicals: Pour about a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar. Plug up the sink quickly to keep the bubbles inside and after about 30 minutes wash it down with some hot water. It may not be as easy as using chemicals, but it is an easy way to avoid sending hazardous waste down the drain.
Envirosolve LLC accepts hazardous chemicals from residents if they are impossible to avoid. The company also accepts antifreeze, used motor oil, old car batteries and more.
If Envirosolve is too far of a drive, earth911.com allows residents to search for closer places to dispose of various items. For instance, the site lists Mike's Tire Factory in Tempe, 2160 E. Guadalupe Road, as a nearby option to accept used motor oil or antifreeze.
Recycling yard trimmings and food scraps may seem difficult but it can be simple. Liz Lonetti, executive director of the Phoenix Permaculture Guild, says composting doesn't always mean a pile.
Leaving grass trimmings in the yard instead of bagging them can create natural mulch for the yard. Tucking organic wastes like yard trimmings. fruit or vegetable scraps under 4 to 6 inches of mulch in the backyard will keep it from smelling and give earth worms a chance to convert it to useful compost.
Lonetti suggests keeping chickens as pets.
"I keep chickens and they will happily eat much of the scrap fruit and vegetable matter, converting it to delicious eggs and ‘fertilizer' for the garden," she said.
A final option for recycling yard trimmings and organic waste easier is find a local community garden that has a composting site and asking if they accept donations.
Textiles are also recyclable by simply donating. Donations to Goodwill not only keep those items from landfills but the proceeds from resale also help the community. Other items like ceramic dishes (which are not recyclable) and furniture are welcome at Goodwill.
A complete list of items that can be recycled in Phoenix's blue bins can be found at http://phoenix.gov/garbage/recycle.html. The next bulk trash pick-up days are coming up in December. Residents can check their Phoenix Garbage and Recyclable mailer (or Water Notes) or go online at phoenix.gov/publicworks and click on "garbage" and then "bulk trash" and enter their address to verify the dates.
Though the city may not offer immediate options for recycling everyday items, it can be done. It just takes some research.
Allison Hurtado is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.