Shop time is precious. However, so is Mother Earth. We have only one, and we have only one lifetime to treat her right, both for our own good and those who will occupy her in the future.
Think “children” and “grandchildren.” Therefore, it’s worth the time to make a few extra steps across the shop each day to recycle.
Aluminum is the most valued recyclable, with more than two-thirds of all of the aluminum ever made still in use. If you’re sipping on a Coca Cola right now, rinse that can and drop it into the bin when you’re finished. Other scraps of aluminum you might produce in your work can also be recycled curbside, so keep your mind open to cutoffs and other sources.
Paper is a big recyclable item, and woodworking shops produce a good bit of it. Think packaging, plans, notebooks and mail. When I have scrap paper I may take a momentary break to walk across the room to recycle, or I may conserve my energy by making a pile until it gets in my way.
Steel is one of the most-recycled items in America, but more of it is recycled industrially than personally. That’s too bad, because we use and discard a lot of it. However, as easy as it is to recycle a steel English pea can curbside, other steel items might have to be stockpiled and delivered to a metal recycling center. I am fortunate to have one nearby, and I can store steel and large-format aluminum in my garage at work until I have a load to deliver.
If you prefer to be paid for your aluminum cans, you can save them and sell them at the metal recycling center, too. However, keep in mind that such high-profit items help your local government keep curbside recycling available to everyone.
I’ve never understood the attraction of bottled water, especially little 4- and 8-ounce bottles that are so inefficient. I prefer tap water, which is nearly free. However, America loves them, as evidenced by the “bottle mountains” I see in recycling bins every Friday. Sadly, when I pick up litter on my early-morning walk, I often see them in garbage cans I drop that trash into along the way. Plastic recycling is quite efficient, and the bigger your municipality, the more likely you are to be able to recycle even unusually-symboled plastic beyond common polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
May I encourage you to find a corner of your shop where you can reduce landfill waste by saving your recyclables for the weekly pickup?
I can’t think of anything I do not recycle. If something finally becomes true scrap, I take it to the county recycle center. Paper, cardboard, wood, aluminum, steel, paint, varnishes…anything I cannot find a use for. But it is rare I drop anything off. I’ll store it sorted by type and size. Sooner or later, I’ll find a use for it.
I advertise in the free section of my local paper, ‘Free wood chips, no walnut”. They provide the trash bags, then they use the chips for their horses or mulch for the garden.
I recycle everything that I can by keeping a bag handy to drop recycle items in. Wood scrapes are turned into small toys, given to my intarsia friends, or made into a multiwood band saw box. Very small scrape wood goes to my BBQ pit. Other small scrapes hit the bin.
I Recycle from the kitchen to the shed plastic peanut butter jars make great storage for nuts bolts and screws, the plastic continental powdered stock bottles make great storage for small screws & shelve supports for job lots.
the 425g tins from the Tuna are used for glue tins or parts washing for the guns
the 20 litre lacquer drums gets used to store old thinners from washing out the spray guns
The shavings get saved and placed in the compost bin for the garden
The off cut of timber are kept for smaller jobs or for making wedges and glue blocks for jobs
The list is endless almost every thing that I can recycle gets used