Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Recycling the Un-recyclable

I have thousands of milk caps. Thousands. I’m not lying. I started collecting them about the time we began curb side recycling. I put the bottles in the recycling, but couldn’t bear to throw out the bright plastic lids. Why couldn’t they be recycled too? I figured the recyclers would figure it out eventually, and until then I’d save them. But then they never did.

The lids piled up (along with the yogurt containers, sour cream cartons, deli plastic, etc.). Slowly I found solutions to for my rapidly growing bins of plastic crowding the corners in our basement. Yogurt cups make perfect seed starter pots if you poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Sour cream containers are just about the right size to freeze chicken broth for future recipes (just under two cups). Ice Cream tubs are excellent for sending cookies to school for parties, and also for refilling with homemade ice cream.

But what to do with all those lids?

When my kids were young the lids made great sorting toys, and the new elementary art teacher at school took hundreds of them to make a repurposed mural of a giant butterfly. My kids go through 7-8 half gallon bottles of milk a week. So that’s 7-8 new plastic lids added to the collection each week. It was getting kind of ridiculous.

I went in search of a solution and discovered Preserve Products. This company takes any plastic #5 that your recyclers don't. This would include yogurt cups, food containers, and lids! If you have a Whole Foods near you, there is a “Gimme 5” drop off box at the store. Other Gimme 5 drop boxes can be found by looking up your city and state on the website.

I've discovered there are Gimme 5 boxes near me at Sonnewalds food in Seven Valleys and Trader Joes in Towson, MD. Lucky me, but if you can't find a box near you, the other option the company offers is to mail in your No# 5s. No, they don’t pay for postage, but they do offer “recyclebank points” which can be redeemed for discounts at local and national partner retailers. To heck with the points, I’ll just be glad to unload the lids and relieve my guilt.

Preserve Products is a young fast-growing company that uses unrecycleable recyclables (the stuff your regular recycling program doesn’t take) to make high quality products for the home like colanders, tooth brushes, cutting boards, tableware, and razor handles. All the products they make are recyclable either with your curbside recycling or with the postage paid labels that come with each product. This is my kind of company, so this is an unpaid shout out.

There’s never any reason to throw away plastic. The earth can ill-afford it. It’s like I tell my kids, “A dinosaur died so you could have that bottle, show some respect.”


  1. Hi, What about the 3d printing industry-It seems like at least one of the materials they print in. I would say somebody must be doing it but.... Although I did come across a company who's business is making new products from those you send them-Terra something, can't remember exactly.