7 Surprising Ways to Recycle Plastic

Recycling plastic keeps trash out of landfills and decreases our reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

By Kayla Caldwell

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You may never have thought about where your plastic grocery bags came from or how your yoga mat was made. But all that plastic that makes our lives more convenient is made from either oil or natural gas. And with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill still harming southern beaches and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas threatening water supplies nationwide, reducing our dependence on plastic is more important than ever, to reduce our dependence on these fossil fuels. According to the Stanford Recycling Center, recycling one ton of plastic saves 16.3 barrels of oil and 30 cubic yards of landfill space. And the good news is, along with your curbside recycling program, there are more ecofriendly options for ways to getting rid of your plastic than ever before. (Option number 1, of course, is to try to use as little plastic as possible in the first place.)

Here are a few of the more creative recycling programs we found: 

Companies to offer "reverse" vending machines for recycling plastic.1. "Reverse" Vending Machines

Thirsty? The PepsiCo Dream Machine won’t be able to help. But it will collect empty plastic bottles and aluminum cans and, in return, give you points that you can redeem at Pepsi’s online partner in the project, Greenopolis.com, for discounts and coupons at various retailers, such as movie theaters and hotels. This recycling program is slowly expanding across the country, in grocery stores, gas stations, and parks, but at the moment, most machines are concentrated in Southern California and North Carolina, with a few locations in Florida, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania; click here to find the locations of Dream Machines and similar recycling kiosks operated by Greenopolis near you. If there isn't one nearby and you don’t have a municipal recycling program, check out Earth911.org to find other places near you that recycle bottles and cans.

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