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recycling_boxes_kid(MCT)—There is a popular topic that I like to tackle every so often. It’s how to recycle items that may be a bit tricky. Never fear, you can Do Your Part to find eco-friendly solutions. Here are few items that I get asked about and ways you can get them all responsibly recycled.

These bulky items usually get replaced around every ten years. So what happens to the old ones? They usually go to waste in a landfill despite the fact that most of its materials are recyclable. Some full service recycling centers will accept them for materials. If the one where you live doesn’t, many homeless shelters will accept mattresses in good condition. Also, if you are buying a new mattress, some companies will take away your old one for free. However, it’s up to you to find out if yours will be recycled. Companies such as Sleep America and Emattress are committed to recycling and repurposing the old ones by giving them to low-income families.

Mercury Thermometers
Mercury thermometers are becoming harder and harder to find. That’s because many states don’t even allow them to be sold because of the toxic mercury inside them. So if you have an old one you want to get rid of, the last thing you should do is toss it in the trash. Instead, contact your local health department to see if they participate in a mercury thermometer exchange program. Many will give you a free digital thermometer in return. You can also bring those mercury thermometers to a full service-recycling center.

Cables and Cords
Who doesn’t have a bunch of cables and cords collecting dust somewhere? These are considered electronic waste (e-waste) and contain materials that can be recycled. Many Best Buy stores will accept them for recycling as will Goodwill collection sites across the country. Check out for more e-waste solutions — including ones that could earn you a little cash.

When it’s time to get a new pair of eyeglasses, you may find that your old pair of glasses still has plenty of life left in them. Lions Club International successfully collects more than 20 million pairs a year and gives them to people who need them the most. Unite for Sight also will take old pairs as will the New Eyes for the Needy organization.

Toothpaste Tubes and Toothbrushes
How many tubes of toothpaste do you think you’ve thrown in the trash after you’ve gotten that last squeeze? What about old toothbrushes? Once you’re done with them there are ways to get them recycled. In fact, Terracycle will pay for you to send them in. From there, they are made into plastic pellets that can then be molded into everything from playground equipment to garden tools.

Do Your Part to get your trickiest of items recycled. It’s actually a whole lot easier than you might have thought!

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living,” available at

Distributed by MCT Information Services