You know the benefits of recycling, especially if you’ve been an avid reader of this I.N. H.O.P.E. column.  You also know how convenient it is to recycle most items. You may be aware that effective July 1, North Carolina became the 18th state to place a ban on “E-waste” in landfills…all electronics must be recycled, now and forever. 

You may not realize that there are other state laws on items prohibited in the landfill.  Some things are also banned from the recycle bin, so look at available options before discarding these common items:

Oyster shells. NC has an innovative program to recycle oyster shells.  Why?  To help the declining oyster population, which is in jeopardy of extinction.  As an individual or a business, you can recycle your shells and they are used to form an oyster reef. By stacking several together and placing them back in the ocean, they help produce oysters and give sea life and organisms a habitat to dwell and prosper.

Here’s a bonus – one oyster has the capacity to filter almost 50 gallons of water every day.  The larger and healthier our oyster population is, the cleaner our water will be!

You can find out where to recycle shells and more about the N.C. oyster recycling program at

Aluminum cans. Aluminum is a huge commodity and easily recyclable over and over.  One can will be recycled and back on the store shelves in a month!  Why can’t we trash these?  Aluminum is harmful to the environment, takes 400 years to decompose and releases toxic chemicals when incinerated and released into the air.

Aluminum cans also amount to serious cash (instead of trash)!  A friend recently shared a great idea for a Recycling Club.  Her husband started collecting cans years ago, getting friends and family to contribute…and began a local club.  From the money he made scraping the cans all year, the club members went to the beach for a week long vacation every summer.  Why not start our own recycling club?  I’ll volunteer to be on the collection committee!

White goods, such as refrigerators, microwaves, stoves, etc.  Not only do they contain several metal components, all of which are toxic to some degree in a landfill, they often have fluoride gases (as in refrigerators).  These gases, when released into the atmosphere, are a major culprit in depleting our ozone layer.  White goods are bulky, and replaced every few years, so imagine the amount of expensive space they take up in landfill sites.  Look to your area Hazardous Waste Facility for drop off dates, and if your appliance has life left in it, consider a ‘Social Recycling’ option instead, to help your neighbor and help your earth.

Wooden pallets. Manufacturers and contractors take note.  When you take or receive a delivery of any product or material, remove the wooden pallet and take it/send it back to the manufacturer.  These are easily reusable and when they are retired, can be broken down for scrap wood.  You can also find companies that restore old pallets or a building project like Habitat for Humanity that can use the wood for other purposes.  Never add them to your dumpster!

Plastic containers with the symbols #1 through #7.  Many recycling programs accept these items.  What’s wrong with adding them to your everyday trash (other than being illegal)?  Plastics contain numerous hazardous chemicals that leach out while sitting in the landfill for years and seep into our soil and water systems. Did you know there was 6 times more plastic than plankton in our oceans currently?  We need to reverse this environmental embarrassment and recycling all plastic is where we can make a big difference…”In Honor of Planet Earth”.

In H.O.P.E.,

Tracy Himes (“Verde Mom”)

Tracy Himes recently published her first book, a social recycling guide, “Think Outside The Bin”, is LEED Accredited in New Construction, a Founding Eco-Consultant for Chartreuse, a local speaker and operates and