How to recycle unusual stuff in Sonoma County
January as the month to lighten up and unload, whether it is to lose pounds, a bad habit or stuff cluttering up your home or garage.
Most people now have curbside recycling, but it has its limits. There are a lot of other places to offload stuff either for recycling, upcycling or for use by someone who needs it.
The Sonoma County Waste Management Agency puts together a comprehensive Recycle Guide that goes far beyond the do’s and don’ts for curbside recycling and where and what you can bring to the county’s Central Disposal Site at 500 Mecham Road in Petaluma.
“A lot of ideas come to us through various needs that come to our attention from callers to the Eco-Desk,” said Karina Chilcott, a waste management specialist for the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.
The Eco-Desk is a helpline, run under the auspices of the agency, with information and referrals for disposing of everything from household toxics to computer ink cartridges. (Try Staples stores, Lazerjet Tech at 899 Gravenstein Hwy S. or Rapid Refill Ink at 571-1965.)
It was from callers that she realized that people really want to know where to take cooking oil they may have used for deep frying. The guide now lists at least half a dozen restaurants that accept used cooking oil.
Weirder calls include the citizen who wanted to know how to dispose of a collection of taxidermy birds dating back to the 1880s. Agency staff found a willing recipient in the California Academy of Sciences.
The guide also offers a host of surprising ways to make smart use or re-use of stuff we all have sitting around, everything from old eyeglasses to vacuum cleaners.
“People love this whole idea of being able to get rid of tools or things you bought at one time or another and are no longer using and you’re just storing it for years. We don’t need to put it in landfills” said Thomas Gonzalez, who manages ReStore, which resells donated building materials and appliances to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
The Sonoma County Recycle Guide is updated each year, with the latest expected to come out in April. In the meantime, the 2014 guide is available in printed form at most county library branches and online at recyclenow.org.
The guide is full of tips for where to take e-waste, rechargeable batteries, yard waste, medical supplies and equipment and even old smoke detectors.
Here is just a sampling of some of the places where you can safely disposes of some items and find good homes for others.
Concrete, Asphalt and Brick: Do you have an unsightly pile of old concrete, asphalt or brick left over from when you removed a walkway, driveway, steps or foundation? Local quarries and rock and soil companies will take it off your hands for a modest price, substantially lower than the county refuse disposal sites, which charge $115 a ton. Among them is Wheeler-Zamaroni in Santa Rosa (3500 Petaluma Hill Road), which grinds it back into road base. They will also accept clean drywall, which has a high concentration of gypsum that, if ground up and mixed with soil, is desirable for vineyards, Manager Tony Bamico said. Wheeler charges $65 a truckload for concrete and asphalt or $31.50 per ton for drywall. Stony Point Rock Quarry in Cotati also accepts asphalt and concrete as well as bricks, porcelain tiles and even asphalt roof shingles. Cost is $10 for a pick-up truck load and $20 for a small trailer load. 7171 Stony Point Road, Cotati. Kjell Kallman, a spokesman for the company, said over the last five years, they’ve diverted over half a million tons of rubbled material from the county landfill for recycling.
Books: One of the big sources of household clutter are books. It is so easy to collect them, so hard to store them or get rid of them. Box up anything you’ve read and will never read again and pass them along to a worthy cause. Friends of the Library in many towns collect books and books on tape, which they then re-sell to raise money for new books and programs. In Santa Rosa, leave boxes on the dock behind the main branch in downtown Santa Rosa. Check with your local branch for further drop offs. Another charity is the Free Bookmobile. The non-profit group collects donated books and donates them as gifts to schools, community centers, homeless shelters and other needy people. Check out Freebookmobile.org or call 520-4536. Both the Goodwill and the Salvation Army accept old books. Outdated texts and encyclopedias are recycled.
Cell phones: We’ve all got them, taking up space in drawers and cabinets. Offload them safely at Best Buy, Mead Clark Lumber, 2667 Dowd Drive, Santa Rosa and Bennett Valley Ace Hardware, 2739 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa, are among many places that take old phones and batteries.