Whether it’s your regular AA alkaline batteries, all the way through to the rechargeable cell in your phone, nearly all our non-plugged-in power sources can be recycled.
They’re packed with useful metals and, in many cases, chemicals as well, which makes them ideal candidates for reclamation, rather than spend a few thousand years decomposing in a landfill.
And in Canada, that’s a LOT of batteries. Environment Canada estimated in 2007 that 671 million non-rechargeable batteries were sold in Canada, making up 95 per cent of all battery sales.
Rechargeable are probably more common now, but the number of single-use cells is expected to grow to almost 750 million sold by 2015.
Recycling is getting traction among people who formerly used to throw them out. It varies from province to province, but many municipalities across Canada offer to recycle batteries if you turn them in, and nationwide programs, like Call2Recycle, set up collection depots across several Canadian cities not only for a staggering variety of usable and reusable batteries, but also old cell phones.
Disposable razors are way safer than the old straight razors, but as with most other disposable consumer products, the price we pay is not being able to recycle them.
So rather than risk your skin with an old-timey barber blade, try make the disposable one last as long as you can.
You can also keep them sharp, though not with a whetstone. Numerous sites suggest running the blade backwards along a strip of denim, some in combination with mineral oil.
The motion will work out tiny imperfections in the blade that combine to make for an increasingly rougher shave (others say even doing that on your forearm works just as well), to the point where you can make them last many months past their advertised lifespan.
Most mechanics who change your motor oil for you will dispose of it safely, but for handy types who prefer to do it themselves, there are lots of options for you.
Almost all provinces and territories have some kind of collection program, although they are most advanced in the western provinces and Quebec (click here for a province-by-province view).
They partner with industry associations, businesses and even municipalities, and most will take not only motor oil, but oil filters, containers and other products like transmission fluid and lubricants.
And it’s not for nothing. One litre of oil can contaminate up to a million litres of water, but recycling eight litres of oil rather than producing an equivalent amount of new oil can conserve enough energy to power your home for a day.
Recycled oil can be refined and reused, but it’s also useful in producing asphalt for roads and highways.