When it comes to recycling, Americans have come a long way since celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency reported only 6.6 percent of trash was recycled.
Today marks the 43rd annual Earth Day celebration, and Americans are making use of their recycling bins more than ever -recycling over a third of their municipal solid waste. Ohioans fall slightly below average, recycling 25 precent of their residential and commercial waste, according to the Ohio Solid Waste Management District.
However, there are a number of recycling opportunities outside the bin that could help those numbers grow.
These items are not typically accepted in your curbside recycling bin, but are accepted by local or online recycling programs:
Torn, stinky, piling up in the closets-plenty of people would love to get rid of some old athletic shoes.
Find out more about how you can recycle unwanted items:
Athletic shoes -www.nikereuseashoe.com
Auto oil-Drop off at auto parts stores or repair shops.
Bike tools and gear- www.bikesnotbombs.org
Compact fluorescent bulbs -Drop off at local Lowe's and Home Depot stores
Eyeglasses-www.lionsclubs.org or drop off at Walmart Vision Centers
Hair dryers and flat irons-www.folica.com/features/recycle
Mobile phones-See a list of mail-back programs at www.earth911.com
Plastic dry-cleaning, grocery, bread, produce bags and more-Drop off at Lowe's, Giant Eagle, Kroger, or other plastic bag receptacles.
Rechargable batteries-Drop off at Lowe's or Radio Shack.
Wine corks-www.yemmhart.com or www.recork.org
Source: Times research.
Many people pass their gently worn athletic shoes onto new owners.
"I've given some of my shoes to different sports teams so that other people can reuse them," said 22-year-old Zane Eschbaugh, of Marietta.
However, for those shoes who have run their course, Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program offers an option for recycling them. The program takes used athletic shoes and grinds them into three separate materials to be used in the new ways.
"I think I've seen stores that have the bins where you can drop off shoes in bigger cities," said Eschbaugh's father, Terry, 52.
Marietta resident Eric Brockmeier, 29, said he has plenty of athletic shoes he would not mind recycling.
"Do they take dirty ones?" Brockmeier jokingly asked.
They do. However, Nike does ask that people not donate muddy or wet shoes. They also can not recycle shoes with metal parts or cleats.
Nike offers conscientious customers the option to ship their unwanted shoes to their recycling facility in Memphis, Tenn.; however, there are no drop off locations locally.
"Collecting shoes sounds like a good project for the college or one of the local school or civic groups," commented Dr. Richard Danford, a Marietta College language professor.
The idea reminded Danford of a recycling project found by a Marietta College student started last year, he said.
"The idea was to take all the left over soap from hotels and recycle that. It's called the Global Soap Project," said Danford.
According to Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe website, the recycled rubber from shoes can be used in new shoes or in things like interlocking gym floor tiles or playground surfacing. Recycled foam and fiber can be used for cushion in outdoor basketball and tennis courts or indoor synthetic courts.
Donating back to sports causes is an idea Marietta resident Jeff Neville can get behind. Neville collects used aluminum cans on behalf of the middle school baseball team, the Marietta Sluggers.
"We recently had about four or five big plastic bags and we got about $25 and used it to buy new bases for Patriot Park," said Neville, 46.
To find out more, visit www.nikereuseashoe.com
Compact fluorescent light bulbs
Using these swirly light bulbs is already an earth conscious move because they use less energy and last longer than their incandescent precursor. According to Mother Nature Network, the bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, meaning it is best not to simply throw used bulbs in the trash.
Luckily, some local retailers, such as Lowe's, have a better option.
"We have a recycling center at the front of our store in which we take compact fluorescent bulbs," said Dave Flinn, store manager at the Marietta Lowe's.
While broken bulbs are not reusable, the store does accept them as well, he added.
The Lowe's recycling center also includes options for rechargable batteries, said Flinn.
"Rechargable batteries would include things like cell phones, laptops, or old drill batteries," he said.
Radio Shack also accepts rechargable batteries, according to their website.
They do not recycle primary batteries, rechargeable alkaline batteries or lead-acid batteries weighing more than 2 lbs.
Lowe's and several area grocery stores offer a recycling option for plastic bags. These bins are often used for people's used plastic grocery bags, said Flinn.
But any type of plastic bag is accepted in the bins, he said.
Therefore those empty bread bags, produce bags, or dry cleaning bags can be recycled at Lowe's, Giant Eagle, Kroger, or any other facility that accepts plastic bags.
At Lowe's, the recycling bins are located just inside the entrance door, added Flinn.
Changing a car's engine oil is one thing. Disposing of it is another. Disposing of used oil on personal property is illegal according to the EPA.
However, your local Advance Auto Parts will happily take up to five gallons of used auto oils a day, said employee Bryan Mullins.
"We accept used engine oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, gear oil, almost any kind of oil from a vehicle," said Mullins.
The oil is safely stored on site until it is sent back to companies who refine and reuse the oil.
The program is convenient to use and is a much better option than other manners Mullins has heard.
"I know people will use it on scrap wood piles to fuel the fire and it turns that nasty black smoke. It can't be good for the environment," he said.
Auto Zone also accepts used automotive oil. Both companies ask that customers limit their oil recycling to five gallons a day.
For auto parts retailers and service locations, call ahead first to see if they accept used oil.
By their very name prescription eyeglasses are prescribed to their individual wearer. While sharing prescribed materials is typically frowned upon, sharing used eyeglasses is actually another great way to recycle.
However, many people are stumped when it comes to connecting their old glasses with someone who can actually use them.
"I would love a suggestion because I have a drawer full of old glasses at home," said Marietta resident Beth Miller, 43.
All of Miller's family members wear glasses, meaning they have accumulated quite a few pairs over the years.
That is where Lions Clubs International can help, said Jim Schneider, a member of the Marietta Noon Lions Club.
For decades, the Lions Recycle For Sight program has been collecting used prescription glasses, clean and sort them, and redistribute them to people in need, he said.
"We send them off oversees and a lot of people who can't afford glasses are getting them," he said.
All of the opticians in town collect prescription glasses, reading glasses, and sunglasses for the Lions.
Additionally, people can drop off prescription glasses, reading glasses, and sunglasses the Marietta Walmart Vision Center.
Worn down to just a nub, there often seems nothing more to do with a used crayon than throw it away, but many people have found a way to breathe new life into their old crayons.
Dianna Eschbaugh, a teacher's aide at Marietta High School, said that her classes have used crayons in crafts projects before.
"You can melt them and reuse them in a new way. There's one project where you shave the wax and melt it to create sort of a stained glass window," she said.
For the less artistic, crayons can simply be mailed in and recycled into new crayons. The National Crayon Recycle Program has recycled over 88,000 pounds of unwanted crayons so far, according to their website.
The program asks that people ship them their unwanted crayons, preferably still with the wrapper, to be recycled into new crayons, the purchase of which supports recycling programs and education.
According to Mother Nature News, Americans throw away 15 million bicycles a year. However, two online companies will accept old bikes, accessories, tools, and gear to recycle for new use.
Bikes of the World takes used bicycles and parts in order to make bikes affordable and available to lower income people and select institutions in developing countries. Bikes Not Bombs has a similar mission.
The Bosom Buddy Program, sponsored by the Bra Recyclers, accepts donations are bras that are still in good condition, and distributes them to girls and women in developing countries around the world.
Not only will hair company Folica accept your used hair dryers and flat irons, but they will give you a $40 credit to the purchase of a new dryer or flat iron.