Q. I’ve saved up seven old printer cartridges because I was sure that sooner or later I’d come across a company that would recycle them. I haven’t—they’re just junking up my home-office. What to do?  - Ben, FL

A. But Ben, Florida is world-renowned for its dedication to cutting-edge recycling and… oh, wait, sorry, wrong state. Actually, before we bash Florida, let us mention for the record that the state does offer a list of cartridge recycling resources on its Department of Environmental Protection website. One retailer we like is called Cartridge World (terrible name, good service), which will refill or remanufacture your printer cartridges. About eight printer cartridges are thrown away every second in the US (that’s over 350 million per year in North America)—each of which requires roughly a gallon of oil for production, and will take over 450 years to break down if it winds up in a landfill. By doing business with Cartridge World instead of landfills, you’ll save about 50 percent of what you would have spent if you’d bought them new. You do the math. There are currently 25 Cartridge World stores in Florida, and four new ones in the works. All 640 locations nationwide have drop-off spots for cartridges, so find one near you and swing by next time you’re in the area. Also, remember to always read the packaging your toner cartridge comes in; some companies, like HP, send a return envelope with each new cartridge, and run their own recycling programs.

Teacher alert: Cartridge World also has a great program for schools, which allows students to raise money for scholarships, computers, and office supplies, while diverting waste from landfills. Nothing like getting cash back for your trash.

Story by Tobin Hack. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008