Recycle, recycle, recycle 
By now, we all know to recycle office paper, ditch the plastic bottles and fill the break room with reusable coffee mugs. Got it. But did you realize there are a few items lurking in your office that take a little more energy to recycle, but definitely should not end up in your office trash can?

Batteries
Just about every cubicle or home office has a wireless keyboard and mouse. Some have charging stations, but many take batteries. Most of us are used to picking up a package of single-use batteries, using them until they die and tossing them in the trash. Not good.

According to Earth911.com, Americans throw out almost 180,000 tons of batteries each year. About 14,000 of those tons are rechargeable batteries; the rest are single-use. Eek. Batteries that end up in local landfills emit heavy metals and toxic substances into the air and water.

First, look for a keyboard/mouse that has a charging station, which eliminates the use of batteries altogether. If that’s not an option, purchase rechargeable batteries, which certainly have a longer life span than single-use batteries.

Eventually, though, the rechargeable batteries will need to be replaced. The good news is they can be recycled. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. is a great resource for figuring out how to recycle rechargeable batteries.

California is one state that requires retailers who sell small, rechargeable batteries to provide customers with a free system for returning those batteries for proper recycling or disposal. In California, the same goes for retailers who sell cell phones.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs
While natural light is always best, sometimes a window-less conference room needs a light bulb.

It’s great to put a CFL bulb in your desk lamp, but what happens when it burns out? It might be tempting to loss it in the garage can, but CFL bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury (about 4 milligrams, according to www.EnergyStar.gov) and should be recycled.

This EPA site contains information about CFL bulbs and how to recycle them. We give a Green Thumbs Up to Home Depot, which last year announced it would recycle CFL bulbs at all its store locations. The service is free. In April 2007, Home Depot announced a number of Eco Options, including recycling at its corporate headquarters and a store recycling program focused on recycling shrink wrap and other plastics. Read more about Home Depot’s efforts here.

Ink cartridges
Always stop and think about whether you really need to print a particular document. Scaling back on your overall printing saves money on ink, paper and printer wear and tear.

Of course in any office environment, some contract or schedule needs to live on paper. When it comes time to replace your ink cartridge, be sure to recycle the cartridge. If you have a super-duper deluxe printer, check with the manufacturer about how to recycle the cartridges.

If you’re using an ink-jet printer, most office supply stores will take your old cartridges. Some will give you credit toward future purchases or a free ream of paper. Some companies, like Ecco Recycles, will pay you for used ink cartridges or make a donation to a charity.

You can’t have a truly green office if you don’t recycle everything you possibly can. Even though it take a little extra effort on your part, recycling everything from batteries to keyboards is getting easier. Besides, you’ll feel better knowing yesterday’s batteries aren’t tomorrow’s pollution.

Check out this great resource: Plug your zip code and what you need to recycle into www.Earth911.com to find the recycling center closest to your office.


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