Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I could never have expected that the recycling article would turn into a three-part column, but here we are. The number of e-mails you sent regarding difficulty with the recycling program was staggering, and it would be wrong not to follow-up (again) with some of your concerns. However, I promise next month we’ll move on to a different topic.

It’s important to note that not all of you responded with difficulties. Some of you just have helpful suggestions. For instance, Cathy from Menard Electric Cooperative wrote, “I just finished reading your follow-up article for the e-waste issue. One place not mentioned is Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Springfield off of Jefferson. They take all e-waste as of last week when I called. They also take old Christmas lights. It benefits a good cause and keeps metals out of the landfill.”

Thank you Cathy! That’s a very good suggestion. The past two articles focused primarily on adhering to the new law by using recycling centers, but many organizations can also find ways to reuse electronic materials. And we’re not just talking about computers either!

Debbie from Egyptian Electric Cooperative points out, “A lot of time, electronics still work but people get rid of them because they get something new. Don’t forget usable electronics or parts can be donated to Goodwill, or local thrift shops. A local thrift shop in Carbondale (Lutheran thrift shop) has organized drawers and bins of all kinds of stuff. I have gotten everything from a new charger for my cell phone when mine went bad (for $1 instead of $25 at the Verizon store) to keyboards and a mouse for my computer when they went bad. I have also found other things like a new glass coffee pot for my coffee maker when mine broke, again for $1 instead of throwing out the whole unit that still worked fine. We throw away or recycle far too much stuff that hasn’t even reached the end of its usable life.”

I’m guilty Debbie! Being one of those “techie” people, I do enjoy getting new electronic toys. Perhaps we all could take Debbie’s advice and find uses for more things that we are just upgrading. Of course, many of you are actually trying to reduce, reuse and recycle but are finding it difficult.

Roy from Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative sent this note to the EPA, “What are people in extreme Southern Illinois supposed to do about recycling? The closest place for people in Alexander and Pulaski County and possibly other counties is Carbondale. That’s over an hour drive for most people in this area.”

Roy definitely has a point. In fact, the majority of responses to last month’s column echoed Roy’s problem. Recycling centers are generally located near larger populaces. But, we definitely don’t want to see people dumping e-waste by the roadside. It’s the same dilemma that Dean was faced with last month.

I have found that the EPA is pretty responsive to requests for help in finding recycling centers. In fact, you can reach them by e-mailing Someone will usually get back to you fairly quick with some options. But, you might also take a page out of Debbie’s book and contact your local thrift shops, or follow Cathy’s suggestions and donate to organizations such as Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity.

Keep in mind though, that there will probably be some things that just won’t be accepted. In those cases you may end up having to visit a recycling center, and it might not be in your immediate vicinity. Perhaps you could speak to your neighbors and load everything up all at once to make a single trip? I would certainly be interested to learn if a community put something like that together.

Many of you reported having difficulty getting the link last month to work. If you had trouble, please try instead. It should open up a page that has several tabs on it. Click the tab that reads, “Collectors/Recyclers/Refurbishers” and then under the “Other” section you’ll see a link that reads, “List of Registered Residential E-Waste Collection Sites.” If you click that link, you should find the information you need.

Looking for an fun way to recycle your old electronics? Try this link for some unique ideas:

Ed VanHoose is the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield. He is a specialist in the IT field with over 12 years of experience working in leadership roles for technology based projects in Illinois and Missouri.